A little over a month ago I wrote a response article entitled “Sorry Art Javid Blogs Are Not the Problem.” This article was my response to the article “Blog and CSS Only Sites” which Art had posted on the American Design Awards website. Since then Art has addressed the concerns I raised in my response and posted a revised version of the article as “Cookie Cutter Creations.” My original response to the article created some very strong options from Positive Space’s readers, so I wanted to follow up and post my impressions of Art’s revised article.
At the time I originally wrote my response I was slightly upset by the way the article was written, but I did see the point Art was trying to make. On August 3rd Art did post a response to my article in the comments, but unfortunately I did not see it at the time. Because many of the readers of this site may have also missed his comment, I have reposted it here at the bottom of this article.
MY OPINION AFTER THE REVISIONS
Art seems to have taken the concerns raised by my original response, and the reader comments to heart. His article is now less about the tools used, and now focuses on the true point he was trying to make. The point is that web design and websites all seem to be morphing into blogs or at least the same format as typical blogs. When this happens, it truly is a shame. I am a true believer in the power of blogging and what it can do for an individual or company. This however does not mean that every site out there should have a blog and look like one too.
WHAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM HERE?
The real problem is that the content management systems developed to allow for blogging are so well done that they are being applied to everything. That fact coupled with clients who are seeking to find a “trick” to top search engine placement leads to mass adoption of blogs and their accompanying software. What Art definitely gets right about this problem is that designers are getting lazy. A large majority are just taking a template developed for a blogging platform and modifying it to meet their needs. At this point all they have done is decorated a blog, not designed anything.
HOW TO DESIGN A BLOG, NOT DECORATE ONE
First and foremost it takes a ton of time. This is not going to be a $1000 dollar blog design, unless you are charging $10 an hour. The design processes needs to start like any other website you would do with sketches, comps, and then finally fully custom web development. This is not a screen grab of a current template that you overlay graphics around.
When I approach designing a site that includes a blog for a client it actually entails designing a number of comps. Before any of that begins client discovery happens, research, planning, and concept sketches. Usually, the blog is only a portion of the site, so a homepage comp is developed, then followed by the blog page, and the article page itself. Next individual page designs for static content are designed, and any other extra functionality like author pages or custom archives. The most important thing about this process is that I am not compromising design to fit the blog system. I am using the system because it is able to fit my design. Any content management system can be powerful, but it becomes a crutch if it limits your creativity so don’t let it happen to you.
ART’S RESPONSE FROM AUGUST 3RD
Thank you for your comments regarding my article on American Design Awards. We have been receiving mostly positive (and some negative feedback) from designers around the world via email, but this blog by far offers the most passionate responses to the article yet.
Having said that, I apologize if some of you may have taken offense to the article or misunderstood my point. It was not meant to offend anyone, nor did I mean to come across as arrogant. As a matter of fact I have learned a great deal by reading your responses, and for that I thank you guys for your feedback.
Functionality, design, and usability are by far the most important aspects of any website – and CSS as well as other web development tools are why the industry has progressed so impressively. However, our design awards judges (I don’t have an active role in the grading) have seen an alarming trend in cookie-cutter type blog and template sites blossoming everywhere. Blogger-type and Template Monster-type sites that have barely been customized and passed off as original “web design” work by graphic or web designers who seem to have put aside their HTML scripting skills, PhotoShops, DreamWeavers, and most importantly their imaginations on the shelf, for a quick and easy fix.
I personally don’t claim to be the authoritative figure on the latest tools and methods, but one doesn’t have to be one to realize that template-based design, blog-customization design, etc. does not bode well for the design industry.
The article has been removed from the site pending an editorial review – it may be reworked and posted again in the next few days. If you need to discuss this further or want your positive criticism or opinion included in this or any future articles, please feel free to email us at: suggestions [at] americandesignawards [dot] com
MY THANK YOU TO ART
I also wanted to thank Art for voicing his opinion, not many people are willing to do so. My initial concerns were addressed and I now completely agree with what he is saying. I agree there is a problem developing, the reasons are many but something must be done about it. Maybe it is a lack of proper design education or the result of laziness, either way the difference between designing a website with a blog, and decorating a blog template should be clearly separated.
I encourage each of you to read Art’s new article as it has raised a great point. This is something that may be hard for some designers to accept, but ultimately beneficial to those who do.