If you’re not a web designer, chances are that you’ve never actually Googled “web design inurl:blog” and looked at the results. Try it. No, seriously, don’t try it. I’ll show you what you get:
You get a list of results, the majority of which are themselves lists of results. Now, this search is actually a little better than a few I’ve gotten recently (web searches for blogs change frequently due to the rapid-fire release of new posts), but it still demonstrates the point: web design blogs are quite regularly little more than a huge list of pictures of various websites, with a short note on the front that points out some sort of factor that makes all of those websites worth looking at.
I just got done looking at one site that was talking about textured backgrounds — as in, having a picture rather than a solid or gradient color as your background. It was actually 165 words, not counting all of the website’s names, followed by 24 pictures of other people’s websites. Apparently these people aren’t terribly worried about ‘thin content.’
The thing that really gets me, though, isn’t that one blog did it once — I’ve posted some pretty skimpy articles around here occasionally myself — but that it’s consistent. It’s phenomenal how many web design blogs there are that simply find different excuses to show you long lists of other people’s websites week after week.
So I sat down and I asked myself, “Why are they doing this? It’s obviously profitable.” (I also asked myself why I wasn’t doing it, if it works so well, and we’ll get to that in a minute.)
The conclusion that I came to — and I have no real way of validating whether or not this is correct — is that all of these websites are geared toward a certain stage of web design: the ‘inspiration’ stage. The stage where you have exactly two things: the client’s list of demands and desires, and the limitless, intimidating void of your imagination staring back at you like the world’s blankest canvas.
I can tell you, I have had this problem. And when I did have that problem, I certainly did sit down and do a little web surfing to come up with some inspiration. So I’m certainly not ragging on anyone here. That said, I’m not done with the whole ‘collections of crap’ concept yet, either.
That’s because another very common version of the ‘collection of crap’ web design blog post is the ‘look at these clever bits of code’ collection. This is similar to the ‘look at these websites’ collection, except with various HTML, CSS, and/or Java code that are designed to do clever things like create pagination effects or start playing music when you mouse over an icon.
I think the reason why I’m pondering the need for all of these is that I’m wondering if web design has been ‘solved’ to the point where there’s little need to continue discussing the principles, philosophies of, and steps involved in web design anymore. Have we gotten to a point as an industry where, other than variations in visual effect and ‘cute’ coding tricks, we’re all doing essentially the same existing tasks in a manner that is proscribed, codified, and static?