I came across this post by Joshua Porter on bokardo.com – his recent visit to the “design” section at Barnes & Nobles led to a spirited discussion about design and publishing, and how design should be about solving a client’s problems. I couldn’t agree more.
“Most books that claim to be about web design aren’t about web design at all. They’re about publishing in HTML and CSS, which by and large has little to do with the problems of the users we’re supposed to be designing for. (…)
Maybe we see a glut of “web design” books focusing on technology because design is such a difficult topic to pin down. “What is design?” seems to be a universal question that any designer can give you an opinion on.
To me, design is about solving problems. But not the problems of designers, the problems of users. It’s a not-so-subtle distinction. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have these discussions…obviously we need to know the technical details of how to publish. But the inordinate amount of time we spend focusing on technology is wasteful…imagine if we could shave off 50% of the time we spend publishing…would we use that time to focus more on the other problems?
The problems that matter are the ones that aren’t ours. They’re the ones that live in a different context than the one we find ourselves in. Our context is one of a designer and publisher. The users’ is one of goals and activities. They don’t care about browsers compatibility or semantically correct…anything. They care about paying bills, purchasing toilet paper, being entertained, and getting the latest news. That’s their problem set. It doesn’t include HTML or CSS. (…)”