“Design doesn’t matter”

Every year or two a fresh crop of internet blowhards decides design doesn’t matter. Indeed, they proclaim that bad design is good. Not merely is it good, it is the secret to internet wealth and success, they tell us. Whereas, they assure us, user-friendly, brand-appropriate, professional graphic design — or even mere competence — is the royal road to Failureville.

I don’t understand the siren song of this demonstrably idiotic claim. I don’t know why it seduces a fresh crop of assh*les each year. I only know it does. And then, just as predictably, all the year’s hot young digital designers get in a huff defending design against the fools who attacked it.

Seems to me it might be better to let the anti-design dummies rant themselves out and roll along their happy ignorant path in search of new things to attack. Such as air. Or babies.

Maybe I am jaded. Or maybe it’s hard to get exercised over inanity you’ve seen recur so many times. The assertion that “bad design is good internet” has been made by one set of dolts after another since at least 1995. One prominent consultant aside, nobody can remember who these blowhards were. They charged full bore into obscurity, as folks of their ilk generally do.

So to this year’s hot (under the collar) web designers, remember: next year, you will still be designing beautiful websites. And the people who claim that bad design is good? If they’re lucky, they’ll be selling apples on the street corner.

Originally published at www.zeldman.com on May 1, 2006. Yes, 2006. This is “Let Me Repost That For You.”


Designing and blogging since 1995, Jeffrey Zeldman is the publisher of A List Apart Magazine and A Book Apart, co-founder of An Event Apart design conference, and founder and creative director of studio.zeldman. Follow him @zeldman.

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