Awhile ago I wrote ‘The Unsurprising Truth About Good Design‘ as a response to Mark Daoust’s ridiculous post about the design of Plenty Of Fish and how bad design (or no design) is good in many circumstances where content is the primary attraction. To make it worse, Robert Scoble agreed with him in his post ‘The Role of Anti Marketing Design’ which was a poorly constructed idea that mainly consisted of him bitching about committee driven marketing. Sure, committee driven marketing blows but that doesn’t mean bad design makes good websites. That’s not the conclusion at all. The conclusion is that committee driven marketing slows the process down.
And to call Scoble out again, I want to reference a particular section of his post. He says his page loads fast because he doesnt have a font declared because that would result in bloating his CSS. Well, first of all a single line in a CSS file adds around a byte. If that hurts performance than you should really look into a new ISP. Secondly he says he wants his page to load on cell phones quickly and that, “I read a LOT of blogs on my cell phone and mine loads WAY faster than many blogs out there.” Sweet. So use a mobile media attribute in your stylesheet link. You dont have to make your normal website look like shit to adhere to different mediums. That’s one of the beauties of standards based CSS design.
Now, since I’ve been spouting about evidence based management lately, here it is: The New York Times. In my response to Mark I noted that although I agree content is likely the driver of the most popular sites, proper design enhances that user experience. The NYT is a content site and that’s the primary motive for its online existence — content delivery through an online medium. So if they took Scoble’s advice they’d throw a bunch of text on a screen and come up with something like the Drudge Report and lose readership because viewers could not make their way through the maze.
The NYT decided not follow the bad advice and to design its site with content in mind creating a much more user friendly experience by implementing far better layout and navigational elements. Six Apart has a nice review on the design of the site. And although the NYT redesign is not breathtaking or aesthetically stunning they designed for their content.