Why Do All Websites Look the Same?
Boris Müller
40K120

Hi guys, thanks for you feedback! Here are a couple of quick comments:

1) Templates should work for the design

Templates are part of the current web. One grumpy essay will not change that.

Templates make sense. They allow for quick publishing and they combine technical reliability with streamlined work flows. They are very efficient.

But my impression is that right now, designers tend to limit their creativity so that the design works for the template. And I strongly believe it should be the other way round. Instead of asking how they meet the demands of the template, designers and developers should ask themselves how they can create templates that meet the demands of the design. This is one of the reasons why I believe that designers should be able to code for themselves. If you want to push the boundaries, you have to understand the limitations.

2) Form — Content

Please allow me to quote myself:

One of the fundamental principles of design is to establish a deep and meaningful relationship between form and content. This connection works in both ways. The form both reflects and shapes the content.

In other words, you need specific design solutions for a specific design problem. A one size fits all approach rarely produces satisfying results. A hospital information system is clearly not an appropriate space for experimental typography. I would not ask David Carson to design books for primary schools.

But there is more to design than hospital typography and school books. There are many applications — especially in culture, music and the arts — where visual design can do more than just ensure readability. This is true for print — and it is also true for the web.

3) The paperback web

If we draw an analogy between the world wide web and the world of books, then we are in the paperback-age of the web.

Paperbacks are small, inexpensive books for quick consumption. They are held together by glue, use low quality paper, have bad image reproduction and mediocre typography. But they work well for a mass-market. They are very efficient.

There is nothing wrong with paperbacks. In many contexts they make sense and there are even a number of really well-designed paperbacks out there. But the claim that there should only be paperbacks is downright silly. There is a space, a market and a need for hardcover novels, photographic travel journals, extravagant exhibition catalogues, lavish cookery books and so on.

So the claim that there should only be paperbacks is silly. But regarding the web, I have the impression that this is exactly how a lot of people view the web. They expect that every web page should be cheap, practical and efficient — damn the context and the visual quality.

There are many different kinds of books, from pragmatic paperbacks to experimental art books. I would like to see this diversity on the web.