Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Design iphone

We don't need offline design concepts, online.

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Design iphone

I don’t write too many blogs about design.

I claim to have been a web designer in my formal life and whilst I am proud of the web design I pushed out in the late nighties, I know I should damn well stay away from Photoshop for my own good and the good of our clients.

I’d like to think I know what I like however.

And what constitutes good, current, contemporary design.

And whilst I appreciated the web design style that started around 2005 of incorporating real-world objects and concepts into web design and interface design back then, I am totally bored of it now.


What do I mean?

In 2005, simply putting a photo on a web page was not good enough.

We needed to emphasis it by putting it into a polaroid frame.

We stuck things onto our websites with visual sticky tape and paperclips.

We sometimes even showed coffee cup and wine glass stains on our web designs to help users understand that they were looking at a ‘real’ ‘interface’.

(Think back earlier and we used lens flares in web design until we all realised how terrible, unnecessary and unhelpful it was.)

And no apologies for any this.

In 2005, web designers were seriously pushing the limit of what we knew and were trying to bring users into interfaces they could understand and appreciate.

Web interfaces that made them feel more at home.

As if they were at home with their leather chairs, book cases, movie reels, pencils, envelopes and glass of red wine.

Fast forward to 2012 however. And the concept is pretty dated.



Since 2005, we’ve learnt how (web) interfaces work and how people interact with them.

They need to make sense.

They need to be logical.

They need to be usable.

A user doesn’t need to see a photo in a photo frame to know it’s a photo anymore.

We don’t need to use wood veneer and leather to sell luxury.

Indeed, this shit just gets in the way.

And worse, confuses.

Facebook doesn’t pretend it is something that it isn’t.

And people seem to have worked Facebook out.

It doesn’t need hand-drawn arrows and pencilled notes and 3M stickers to make people feel more at home.

Facebook simply has a reasonably usable, clutter-free interface that is efficient and logical and makes sense for the screen through which the average user interacts with it.


Which brings us to… Apple

This blog was sparked by a very interesting article on Apple’s (increasingly) "tacky" Operating System (OS) design.

The article certainly summarised how I have felt for a while about Apple’s continued and increasingly overuse and abuse of offline concepts in its interface design.

Think about it.

The Apple bookstore contains… a bookshelf to store your books.

Of course!

The gaming centre is a casino table with velvet.


The notes application actually looks like… notes.

The sort of notes you scribble on a yellow pad; worse, in handwriting font!

Do we need this sort of visual prompt?

Does it help the experience?

Or hinder?

Does it make us think we are putting books on a bookshelf and playing games in a casino?

Not at all!

It is 2012 and we should by now know how interfaces work.

We have them in cars, ATMs and Facebook.

Usability is not enhanced by designing movie reels onto digital videos or representing forms with pencils.

It simply clutters and worse, confuses the concept.

At best, it is a waste of space and does nothing.

Whether we design for iPhones, websites or cars, interface design is just that. Interface design.

Leave the wood, leather, lens flares and the rest of it where it belongs.

It helps nothing.