EP 62: Like a black eye on Brad Pitt

(I filmed a video with more thoughts at the bottom)

“The internet is so young, it still hasn’t had sex yet.” – @garyvee

In social media circles, that quote is famous and it’s also very very true. Last week I stumbled upon a site (I’ve forgotten what it was and didn’t capture the address in the screenshot) that was pretty well designed, but one thing stood out like a black eye on Brad Pitt. On the left hand side I found these 7 social media sharing buttons looking like they had been just slapped on at the last minute.

My initial rection was to blame their designer, but after a few minutes I began to think more about what had actually been the cause that resulted in the buttons being placed so poorly. I wrote a blog post about it, deleted it and then tried to solve the problem myself. Through that process I realised that it may not be the designers problem, its actually more likely to be a reflection of where we are at in the history of the internet and digital design.

Social media is here to stay and each site wants their own sharing button, fair enough too. What is more important for most start-up companies is having a product that works first and then is beautiful second. That’s good, it’s the way it should be, but when it comes time to focus on UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) a lot of standard and common elements that appear everywhere get re-created from scratch.

From that thought I started to entertain the idea of creating a universal set of visual guidelines for commonly used visual icons, devices and buttons. What would it look like? Would it be possible for designers around the world to put together a some basic visual guidelines that companies and designers could use? Would this create a more consistent, beautiful and user friendly internet? With those questions in mind I decided to try and test the idea…

It could look something like this:

…and with it, you could create something like this:

…which applied to the original example would look like this. Not perfect, but I think it’s a bit nicer:

The situation is this, the internet is growing up fast. Overtime things will start to settle down. For now, we’re being bombarded with all sorts of visual solutions, some elegant (like the Square site), some creative (like the Field Trip site) and some not so nice (see above). It might be a bit premature and you might even think unnecessary  or silly,  but a universal visual system for commonly used web elements could be the kind of thing we see develop as we get our heads around the colossus that is The Internet. What do you think?


About nickhallam

Creating things that I think should exist, like @positiveposters. Lover of clever ideas, dancing bare footed & freestyle rap battles.
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5 Responses to EP 62: Like a black eye on Brad Pitt

  1. timcruicky says:

    I think I’m with you, sitting on the fence style ha ha. Although I’m perhaps leaning a little more toward the “against” side… Simply because I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of standardising. And by ‘I don’t know’ I mean I have not looked into the pro’s and con’s enough. I know that standardising has quite a few pro’s about it but it also means that there is inevitably restrictions and if there is one thing that the internet is all about it’s the hate of restrictions.

    You are right that website would be better as far as navigation goes, but should we be offering a solution for them? If they have not put the time and effort into thinking about navigation then why should we make it better for them? I do sound like a bit of a snob here, but my thought is that if you don’t put the effort in then why should you be rewarded?

    Just a thought… But I’m still not strongly either way. If there were standards though I’m sure I’d be one of the people to say “screw your standards… I’ll do what I want” ha ha.

    • nickhallam says:

      Good points mate. I agree, if someone told me “This is how it is supposed to be”, I would say screw you I’ll do what I want.

      Your point about helping people who don’t put in the effort…Not sure I’m with you there. I think that some people just don’t know what they are doing and actually might be putting in a lot of effort but still producing poor visual solutions. A base system would help them…

      • timcruicky says:

        Ha, yeah it is a hard one… in my head I mean. The whole “I want to help people, but not people that don’t want to be helped” thing… I guess it’s like anything, there will be a lot of people use it for ‘bad’ and a few use it for ‘good’. By that I mean there might be a great idea that someone has had, not enough money to get a well designed website made and therefore would miss out on ease of use because they would have to design it themselves. In those situations I am all for helping them out, I think they would deserve it because they are putting in a huge effort, its just that (as you said) they might not know how to design it well. Then there are those that would use the nice navigation for something they dont put effort into but will help it look better and might trick some people into thinking its worth wile. But I guess you cant not help the good ones just because it might be abused by the lazy ones ha ha ha.

      • timcruicky says:

        Actually you know what, I scratch that comment ha ha ha! I don’t think what I was trying to say is that you shouldn’t give it to everyone to use… It may have come across as that, and perhaps that is what I was thinking deep down…

        I have always said “create and give” as in, always make new good things and give it away. Learn new things and give the knowledge away. This, I think, is the only true way we will advance as quickly as we can as a civilisation. I just sometimes forget that I want to do that and try and hold things back… as a safety, but the minute you start ‘playing safe’ is the minute you start falling behind.

  2. nickhallam says:

    Fair point mate. Much to think about.

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