Logical vs. Physical

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Content Web site design -- as www.2x4.org -- have not gone unnoticed among designers (first pointed out to me by artist/educator Abby Goldstein), but so far, seem to be been seen as just a web-based gimmick, not real "design." As you might surmise from the side-by-side screen caps above, 2x4, appears as text, then opens to reveal content in the form of text and images. All very semantic, no Flash, just good "old-fashioned" text/Javascript.

I am not proclaiming this as non-design, but it springs from a different well than traditional "web design."

When I first began looking at the web in 1994, like most, I filled my pages with links built with little icons, and images -- and this method of navigation has persisted to this day, reaching its awful zenith in sites like www.cnn.com, so busy you can barely find the content, in the clutter.

Print designers keep attempting to re-purpose book/magazine design to somehow organize the jumble, but frankly, even on the best sites, like the NY Times, it is not totally successful (close though, by my eyes, since it uses a browsing-based layout).

Web design can [should?] find its roots and inspiration in web function, rather than from print. Not that I want to return to - every page looking like Jacob Nielson non-designed it. But I am seeking an understanding of logical design based on function.

It is a battle not easily won. Talk of blog-design, removing traditional navigation, using browsing rather than searching, limiting the number of images to essential (as in traditional book publication) do not meet with enthusiastic understanding. But I am making minor headway as I find a voice for the design principals.

And there is the problem, explaining web-based design, so it does not appear I am trying to give design back to the geeks in the IT department, who in some ways are responsible for all these zillion-image web site designs in the first place.

The core of this code-wise has been beaten into my head by my friend Rick Frankel, who's mantra starts with "logical markup" -- an H1 tag is a header, not just big bold text, in a nutshell.  The key here however, from my point of view is "logical."

But I am seeking more, a clearer design sense - more clearly articulated, outside of showing examples like 2x4.org. Programmers are talking about "logical," but the results are marginal, except "under the hood."

I continue looking for fellow travelers.

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