John Naughton, in his Guardian’s article Graphic designers are ruining the web, says «I value content more highly than aesthetics». Although I [really!] don’t agree with his viewpoint, I believe this is an interesting article to read.
One of the things he says is that websites have been gaining weight over the past few years, and that it is the designers fault. I can somehow understand it, imagining those websites built with Flash, that seem to take forever to load (I usually get bored and switch to something else). What I can’t understand is how can someone prefer an “underdesigned” website like this. Yes, the information is all there, but yet… the information is ALL there! I just didn’t knew which part of the page to look first, I got easily confused and wished to “change the channel” the moment I entered.
Mr. Naughton mustn’t be aware of the tons of empirical studies and papers around the subject of the relationship between aesthetics and the credibility of a webpage. The aesthetic part of a page doesn’t merely serve to make it beautiful but also functional. In the Stanford’s study How Do People Evaluate a Web Site’s Credibility?, the subjects attended on the design’s look as taking the most important role in evaluating a webpage’s credibility (46.1% over all the other characteristics [information design, company motive, advertising, name recognition and reputation, etc.]).
So, to the question Are graphic designers ruining the web? I answer: No, they aren’t. They are making it more easy to read and navigate. Of course this isn’t always the case, having in mind that as in every profession there are good and bad professionals. But lets focus on the good ones, who accomplish the goals of aesthetic importance to information readability.