The Rubber Duck, by Florentijn Hofman, meant to help spread joy around the world by evoking childhood memories.

When I started designing for the web you couldn’t do a lot with html. Everything was just plain text, images and hyperlinks. You could only use a handful of fonts. Maybe an animated GIF here and there. And if you wanted to create a layout, you had to use standard tables, or image maps. But then came CSS, Javascript and Flash. And with that came the possibility to design fresh and crazy layouts. We could use audio and video and all the fonts in the world. We were unstoppable!

Then the smartphone came. We started having access to the internet everywhere at any time. It also meant the death of Flash. Screens started getting smaller. Everything had to become “responsive”. We started using frameworks for code and design. We created layouts that start with a big hero image with a white text overlay and a single centered text column below it. Simple and sufficient.

Every website looks the same.

By Dave Ellis

Patterns are there for a reason

Not just a webdesign problem

The Big Duck

And then there are the “decorated sheds”. The generic buildings, only identifiable by their signage. These buildings are all around us: offices, shops, restaurants. Put a logo on a glass and concrete shape and you’re done. Wouldn’t a city be much more interesting if it had more unique buildings? It might even function better, because the purpose of the buildings would be more apparent.

Not all is lost

Learning from print design

Editorial Design for Escapades Magazine by Matt Chase.

Of course the web is not the same as print. The web is so much more. It’s interactive, lives on multiple screens and has to take data transfer into consideration. Some websites do have great design, but why do we see so little of it? Is it because of the CMS? Maybe. Is it because there’s a limited budget? Probably. But I think we shouldn’t use this as an excuse to only create decorated sheds. We as designers have the responsibility to find solutions within those restrictions. If we believe a “duck” will help our clients reach their goals, we should go out and make those ducks.

Let’s try harder

I think that’s the beauty of the web: it empowers creators to make anything they want. So let’s put in the time and effort and start creating some ducks!

Freelance Digital Designer

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