When I think back to the mid-to-late 1990s, when I first started taking my tentative steps onto this whole new, “exciting” medium called the Internet, I think of all the promises that were made and the promise the medium was reputed to hold. And in those days, it did promise a lot that was exciting to a technology-dreaming boy like myself. But promises are like wishes. Put one in one hand, then shit in the other hand. See which one fills up first. And never has there been a better example of this truism than the Internet after the commercialists realised that it was not just some “geek” trend, that it was not going to just go away whilst they ignored it, and that it posed a real, credible threat to them. And since then, they have been working overtime to try and negate what made, and to a degree still makes, the Internet a far better medium for all concerned.
Now, you have probably noticed that I inserted a capture of what I see when I load this journal in one of the web browsers on my computer. It is not for vanity reasons. For one thing, I am not that vain. For another, I do not like to use graphics in these things unless it is for an actual purpose. And if you have even the slightest interest in design, one glance at the image I have placed near this paragraph should be able to tell you what that purpose is.
As mentioned elsewhere, I recently had a very serious equipment failure that basically necessitated the upgrading of my desktop computer. Now, you can disparage the Apple corporation to your heart’s content (believe me, with some of their products, I will join you), but one thing you cannot fault is the neat design work that has gone into OS X. Hence, although I find the limited choices in terms of models and options in iMacs disconcerting in a few ways, it was pretty obvious to me which machine I was going to purchase. Having said that, however, one design element that has been popping up on the World Wide Wait more and more is making me really wish I had more control over what my monitor displays.
Web designers, take a look at the graphic above. Really, just look at it. And know this: when people who truly understand graphical design (that is, photographers, filmmakers, etc) see designs like this, it shits us all up the wall. Maybe you do not mind having more than half of your miniscule little monitors pissed away on firing redundant or white pixels, but when you have a 27″ monitor that can resolve more pixels than a HDTV, being greeted with huge areas of white whenever one loads a page screams “waste”. No, let me put that with maybe one percent of the required emphasis. It screams WASTE. And after listening to baby boomers for years scream about how we have to tighten our belts on resources to pay for their overbreeding last century, I am sure you can imagine how this degree of waste can get aggravating in a hurry.
Sometimes, when I am musing on the idiocies of people employed in varying industries, I like to reflect to myself about how I could do their job better than they can. I started doing this when I was moved to a certain location, and it has not stopped since. Every time I go into a McDonald’s in Queensland, at least one thing a staffer does makes me think that after a certain cooling period, I could probably do their job better. And I repeat, that is in a McDonald’s. The sheer level of incompetence being displayed in industries where supposedly people are more qualified and thus more competent is utterly mind-boggling.
A good example is in the design of nearly every web site out there. You might have noticed that on the elements of this journal that I can control (background picture, text, and so forth), I have chosen very dark backgrounds. This is for a reason. Try this experiment on for size if you think it is a bad design. The next time you wake up in the morning, instead of doing all the usual shit you normally do, go straight to your computer (preferably have it left on overnight), and open a browser window. Load the Google main page or any page where the background is predominantly white. And just look at it. Hurts, does it not? To borrow a Maddox-ism that people have been saying for yonks before Maddox actually published it on his site, your monitor is not a piece of paper. And I personally could not care less how hip or “now” you think your design is. If it causes me pain to look at and I can do what I need your site for in a place that is less poorly-designed, the clock is ticking in terms of how long you have to rectify it before I go elsewhere on a permanent basis. You want to sit there and tell me that most people are accessing your website using a mobile phone? So fukking what? One, this means that mobile phone interfaces need a serious shake-up in terms of how the display is used. Two, statistics have it that Mickeysoft Windows is the most widely-used operating system in existence, but that does not make it a good system.
Three, Human eyes are not designed for narrow images. Want proof? Well, aside from the fact that Human vision is based on a binocular design, I am as of now sitting about a foot from my new 27″ screen, yet I can still clearly see where the monitor ends and the sides of my computer desk begin. In fact, in spite of being 27″ and a 1.6:1 aspect ratio, this monitor does not even occupy more than half of my field of vision when I am not fully concentrating on it. And I repeat: I am sitting a foot, maybe eighteen inches at most, from it.
Imagine for a second that you are a predatory animal that can only see in a .5:1… hell, I will be generous and say 1:1 aspect ratio. How long do you think your species would continue for? I will give you a hint. I am not a scientist in any sense of the word, but I have studied enough about science to know that I would give such an animal three generations, tops, before extinction. Humans are the only predator in the world that ever gives its prey the courtesy of a head-on confrontation, and even on the rare occasion that this happens, it is almost always with another Human. Being able to see what is approaching from one side, even when one has to turn one’s head a bit to do it, is a survival advantage. Widescreen is not just better from a picture information point of view: it is an evolution. Wider means more information on less screen real estate, so this insistence that we narrow all of our displays to suit devices that are structurally obsolete, and have been since the get-go, is obscene.
So if you are a designer of websites or of internet things in general and think the current designs on websites that are so wasteful as to be criminal are in any sense good, do me a favour. Throw away all your digital devices and go back to the nineteenth century. Or better still, go and kill yourself. Because the greatest cry of the people who call themselves mankind today is forward, not backward.
Everyone else, thank you for reading again.
Powered by Qumana