3 components of good web design

3 components of good web design

Actually the site PSDTUTS has great tutorials for Web Designers. But one of the recent articles about what design roles that constitute a good web design discipline did not convince me. The reason is that the author uses rather weak definitions of the core terms.

The article proposes three components:

  1. Aesthetic Design
  2. Interface Design 
  3. Information Design

These terms are not very specific in their application to web design – and yet the article uses rather narrow definitions.

But a better terminology for the core question the article is raising would be

  1. Visual Appearance
  2. Interaction Design
  3. Information Architecture

With these terms a reader would find much more useful information.

Content, structure and form

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Any design problem can be separated into questions of content, structure and form. This is most simple approach is to reflect them (even web design). A given design task touches three domains:

  • Making sense with given CONTENT
  • Creating appropriate STRUCTURE
  • Finding the optimal FORM

And this is how these three domains relate to the terms I proposed above:

  1. Visual Appearance asks »How does FORM interact with CONTENT?«
  2. Interaction Design asks »How does STRUCTURE interact with FORM?«
  3. Information Architecture asks »How does CONTENT interact with STRUCTURE?«

PS: While I have concerns about that particular article I think the PSDTUT website offers a lot of very good tutorials. The site even offers a $9/month plus membership with additional material for people with professional ambitions. I think that is a very fair deal!

New seminars – summer semester ’08

The new seminars for summer term 2008 are fixed. It is always a very exciting moment to think about new topics for projects… or rather: to pick the best from the ideas floating around.

And I always love to define topics with a leightweight appearance but at the same time much depth.

Here are the two candidates:

Project seminar: »Habits«
Design research about our habits and how they shape our daily life and how we use things.

Project seminar: »PIM«
Design for Personal Information Management systems.

Design for discovery

One of the most interesting topics for information architecture is search. There are ways to find, explore, browse and discover things in digital domains. The value of information increases with the possibility of being found. So design for findability becomes the most important strategy to increase the value of information.

One of the distinct experts in the field of Information Architecture is Peter Morville. He gave an interesting one-hour talk at Google about »Ambient Findability and the Future of Search«:


He talks a lot about the problem of search in general (he is speaking at a search engine company). How to enable better search and findability is a question of a) metadata and b) representation.

It is the representation aspect of searching and finding, that is still a huge area for design innovations. While improving the Google search result page may be too difficult, there are a lot of very specific problems where searching and navigating an information domain gets a very interesting and particular design issue.

A designer needs a good understanding of the fact that users have different approaches of locating things depending on

  • the nature of the information,
  • the structure and relations,
  • the quantity of data,
  • their habit of solving things systematically and
  • the prior knowledge about the domain.

Design podcasts

As there are more and more programs offering podcasts I think there is more interesting content appearing in this subscription format that is interesting for design:

  • DESIGNsuisse
    A german/swiss language series from swiss television mostly with portraits about designers and/or design agencies. These are spotlights about design processes and help to demystify design as a service instead of an artform.
  • Cool Hunting
    Cool Hunting is a daily update on ideas and products in the intersection of art, design, culture and technology, and features weekly videos that get an inside look at the people who create them.
  • Elektrischer Reporter
    This is a “more or less experimental” podcast by the german news magazine Handelsblatt. It features stories about internet culture.
  • Diggnation
    A weekly “boulevardesque” commentary of two guys about the weekly top stories on digg.com. Running for over 2 years now.
  • Icon-o-cast
    This audio podcast is presented by Lunar Design. Explore and demystify the world of design.
  • School of Visual Arts New York
    A series of different podcasts from the SVA NY.
  • UIE Brain Spark
    This site features several podcasts (e.g. “The Josh and Jared Show”) related to “User Interface Engineering”.

There are much more for sure. I’ll just leave it here now. If you know a podcast of interest for designers, let me know.

Luke Wroblewski on Design thinking

On the »SHIFT« conference Luke Wroblowski presented his ideas about »Design thinking« (see his post here).


I think there is a lot of refreshed awareness in die business community about what »design thinking« might be and if it can help to improve business processes, services and products.

Right now it seems there is a lot of very hypothetical talk about that. And as Luke Wroblowski shows by quoting other designers, it is also a very open what »design thinking« is. But there are some prominent figures propagating the concept, so I expect business people and economists will start to discuss what (or what not) »design thinking« may be good for.