Web Design: Art or Craft?
There’s no arguing about taste, right? And opinions differ on the question of whether modern web design is creative art or solid craftsmanship. Regardless of opinions, web design is now a stand-alone course that’s being taught in many universities in Asia. A short term course on basic web design is also offered to many inmates at correctional facilities in the South East, as part of government programs intended for therapy for the imprisoned.
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The design of a website is the first thing that catches the user’s eye and it is not uncommon for it to decide whether to win or be knocked out before the first click or scroll. But there are indications that make one side good or bad.
Web Design: Art or Craft?
Very few web designers are free to reinvent the wheel and simply breakthrough contemporary best practices in the manner of Andy Warhol – they shouldn’t be. The creative process in web design is rather minimal, it is much more a craft that is subject to certain rules. This does not mean a gradation: After all, a “Craftsman” is by definition “a skilled manual worker who makes items that are functional”, as front-end developer Denys Mishunov explained at IPC / WebTech 2013. The “material” that web designers transform into a product is psychological, geometrical, and neurological in nature.
The psychological aspect of the design is useability. More precisely, it is Gestalt psychology, which is based on the principles of proximity and similarity in color, size, and shape. Anyone who knows Picasso’s cubist paintings: Here the painter had made use of Gestalt psychology on a large scale by completely breaking through it. A simple example of Gestalt psychology in websites are, for example, background colors that separate content from one another on the one hand and combine it into groups on the other.
Neuroscience stands behind what we understand as user experience. Even if visual stimuli are picked up by the eyes, the processing takes place in the brain, and that is happy about a kind of image guidance. If we get onto a chaotic, cluttered page that we don’t even know where to look first or at all – then we probably don’t either. The only thing we’re still looking for is the close button. It is different from pages that take us by the hand through their design, are clear (psychology) and aesthetically structured (geometry).
Geometry creates aesthetics. As we know, the origins lie in ancient Greece: 600 BC, Pythagoras established the most important mathematical rules that significantly influence design today. For example, websites are arranged according to the “Perfect Third” principle, that is, in three horizontal and/or vertical columns that keep the content in a comfortable balance for the user – a technique that famous painters have also used.
While developers don’t necessarily have to deal with design issues, Mishunov advises not to completely lose sight of design. And to do this, it is essential to understand the essential principles and ideas behind it.