The Web’s Grain
Frank Chimero’s article talks about the need of designers to bring more innovative content, and how this is bringing more than an issue for the whole of the public to consume that content, which is not completely accurate to work on every screen, monitor or device.
We encounter this problem because of the inner features of each piece of multimedia, for instance, text can be resized because it doesn’t have a fixed resolution, while an image will not behave this same way for the opposite reason. The author states this issue is unavoidable, so the best approach to this would be trying to work on strategies to manage this instead of trying to fill the web with this not so well composed content, as it happens in the case of the Mac Pro’s website.
So to try to avoid the disappointment this would bring as designers when trying to control what it can not be, Chimero advices to come back to the origins of your skills, to try and re-engage with your foundation knowledge, and be able to give it a new fresh perspective when assuming a complex responsive project.
He defines the web as “an edgeless surface of unknown proportions comprised of small, individual, and variable elements from multiple vantages assembled into a readable whole that documents a moment”, and shows how David Hockney’s work with multiple photographies taught this artist, painter and photographer to encounter a new dimension of the photography. This allowed him to discover space and time in his concepts — realising he could tell a chronological story or narrate an scenario — just by arranging multiple pictures in one, first with non-resizable materials (polaroid pictures) and then with more flexible ones (borderless photographies, rearranged and overlaid).
What the author means with this, is that thinking outside of the box when trying to come up with a web design concept, does not necessarily mean to use as much technologies and resources as they are available, but using the content which is crucial for the web, such as images, flat colours which will resize easily, text interfaces which don’t have fixed proportions, and also, the genuine feature of the web itself, which is being edgeless.
Now ,this “edgelessness” the author mentions is in the Web’s structure, a Web is mainly structured by individual pages linked together, so it can brach out forever. As obvious as it sounds, a screen can also show more content than what is able to show in a single shot. This feature of the Web, allows to design for mobile, tablets, and mainly every device does not matter which it’s resolution is. If we would not have this, it would turn really tough to clear an edge spectrum which would be valid for every single piece of hardware.
A good habit to control this, would be to use a different work flow, knowing first what is going to be placed and what are its characteristics and then sketching and arranging the “box” where that content will place with the other content “boxes”, in the author’s opinion this will turn breakpoints into points of reassembly.
Then, talking about the technologies we will design spaces for, we tend to design towards the simplification, but technology is in constant growth adding more and more tools or resources we can hand. To avoid the mess, our aim would be to drive the right technology through the right channel, so the story will reach the consumer in the right way and intention.
As a conclusion, swapping autonomy for ease is a good deal, but we can become dependant of something that is not completely in our control. The solution to this would be an act of will of those who create and consume this new wave of technology, before we lose the track.