Why I Hate Designing Websites

Don’t get me wrong, I love designing websites, but providing the service to random strangers is what I hate. While talking to Erik (kartooner.com) about why we do what we do, and building standards-compliant designs, I realized a few things about my attitude about designing websites for pay.

I killed Designtopia, my site offering my web design skills as a service, because I got sick of people telling me to use marquee or blink text which are a usability nightmare for any website design, or to do anything outside what I know is the right thing to do with designs. I got sick of people emailing me and telling me to use a bright green font on a white background, which as you probably know, is very, very difficult to read.

I’m very picky, and I don’t want to make non-standards compliant or unusable website just because they pay me to. My goal is to make the web a friendlier place, not continue to facilitate 1995-like conventions that hurts the web, more than anything else.

Too many people think that because they paid you to do a design, gives them the right to email you everyday and make you do small changes on the site that you don’t like, that’s not what I do as a web designer.

You don’t tell a plumber who comes in how to fix a toilet, and you don’t tell a cabinet maker how to do his job either, so why do these people feel they can tell you what to do with their site? They don’t know better, they don’t know about usability, typography, whitespace, etc. As web designers, we’re trained in what works for a website the best, what will produce the best results, and what will help companies the most for their business. We employ tricks and semantically-correct conventions to ensure search engines like Google understands the content and gives a thumbs-up, thereby giving the site a better ranking and more exposure.

This is why I hate designing websites for random people. I’m lucky in that the past couple of projects I’ve worked on with Erik were with people that understood our talents and let us do what we do best. That’s why I figure as long as I stay amongst people who love standards-compliant designs, and work with people that want us to do our best, I’ll love designing websites.

9 Responses to “Why I Hate Designing Websites”

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  1. horai

    It’s the same with any design work I’m afraid Matt and with websites, worse than ever. I get the impression that random people thing that a flash interface with moving words and spinny tings are clever and cool. Yuch
    I get the same at work when designing flyers or brochures.
    They think it can be done in minutes because you use a “computer” and all of a sudden they become design experts and photography masters. It drives me and obviously you absolutely nuts.

  2. Unfortunately I have to concur with Horai. ~17 years ago, when I was designing corporate video titles on the Amiga and Video Toaster, it seemed as if every single company wanted to have 3-D extruded chrome titles flying through space. That, and every possibly transition in the box.

    Now I work for an internet company in the Netherlands that wants designs, but nothing leading-edge and worse, as a template they can screw-up at every chance. This means a CMS with a controlled CSS frontend, but that doesn’t stop them. They put 500K GIF photos online (scaled-down to 25% of course), tables in tables in tables, carnival-colors and blinking texts and logos. I’m just lucky that I’m the only one here who uses Flash.

    I love to design and program, but often the only thing keeping our website from looking like a complete screw-up is that theyt have to get past me and my “bad attitude” (bad attitude being that I tell them they can’t do something…)

    The problem is that design is fashion, and there will always be leaders and followers. And worse, those without any design sense at all who think they can design anything. Modern management expects 80% delivery and 20% finageling, and guess where they come in.

  3. See? This is why I dumped computers for a career in food. Much more satisfying. No one ever asks for crappy ingredients in the meal you’re preparing for them ;)

  4. James McCarthy

    If you were Bill Gates, would you ask the plumber to design your bathroom?

  5. If you were Bill Gates, would you ask the plumber to design your bathroom?


  6. Good post. The real problem is that everyone and their cousin is a web designer, and in 2005 there is 15 years worth of crap “design” polluting the information highway. It is often hard to tell the difference between the professionals and the amateurs.

    Design is largely a marginalised profession. Partly because good design is invisible: things just seem to work better than in bad design. It is something that is subtly perceived through experience – not an overt message distinguishable to most consumers.

    Web design is marginalised more so than other design specialities because it is an easy entry profession, and worse, you can buy software that proclaims to do the work for you – yep, I’m talking about dreamweaver and it’s ilk.

    Partly it’s because many designer’s can’t actually articulate the value of design, or what role it play’s in the larger scheme of things (either at all, or in terms that make sense to the client) and/or they think that design is about artistic expression and not the business of solving problems.

    In defence of the client I would think anyone wanting green blinking text thinks they have a business need that is not being met – that is, something they think needs communicating clearly is not being done so in the design as it stands – and in that respect the design doesn’t work.

    The real skill here is to address that need while maintaining the integrity of the overall design. Achieving this is what sets the professionals apart from the amateurs.

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