26 February 2004
Design, particularly Web design, is all a matter of balance. Form vs. function, whitespace vs. text, load times vs. content. Then there's a new struggle: code vs. branding.
I've noticed a couple of web sites that use plain old (X)HTML text to render the main heading of their web pages, which is usually the name of the site/entity. Whilst their commitment to accessible, fast-loading web pages is admirable, I can't help but feel they've tipped the balance too far.
I consider branding and identity to be an integral part of any design – probably one of the top five – because it gives the viewer clues and context to anything that they are experiencing. By utilising run-of-the-mill text to render your identity, it makes it very hard to distinguish yourself from anyone else delivering a message. Granted, usage of plain text can itself be an identity, but I think that Eric Meyer has pretty much cornered the market on that one.
Not only does the usage of font-family: sans-serif make your identity generic, but it makes it unstable. Fonts vary across operating systems, computers, even users, so it's highly likely that your identity will not be perceived consistently between two people. There is a sort of deconstructionist beauty in the usage of non-identity as an identity but its novelty soon wears off, and Coca-Cola's multi-million dollar marketing budget seems to indicate that consistent branding has its benefits.
Although semantic coding aims to reduce all data into its most minimal textual form, there are just some things that can't be captured in 255 characters: the calming effect of the colour blue, the professionalism of Myriad Roman, the tech-savvy of a pixellated WIRED. Although it might pain the purists, sometimes only an image will do.
Follow me on Twitter
To hear smaller but more regular stuff from me, follow @themaninblue.
- Resolution dependent layout update
- footerStickAlt: A more robust method of positioning a footer
- widgEditor: A simple, standards-compliant WYSIWYG HTML editor
- Accessible, stylish form layout