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3 July 2007 @ 7pm

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design

constraints


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I’ve been really impressed with Joshua Porter, the Director of Web Development at User Interface Engineering. (A quick nit to pick: the UIE website uses the design form of the “tag cloud” / clump of words in the top right of the page. Just the other day, I was thinking about that form and how bad it is for conveying information, as it de-prioritizes the content: you have no idea which of the words is most significant. The text with the highest contrast? The largest text? It feels kind of “public service anouncement-y.” Odd, that a usability site would utilize that design form. I digress.)

Anyway, Joshua Porter consistently writes interesting, informative posts on his blog, Bokardo. He just posted one this morning, GrandCentral is People-Centric, where he gives a really nice nuance to a previously oblique opinion I had: that constraints are a good thing.

First, though: a preamble.

As David Heinemeier Hansson noted in his post, What if I actually like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript?, “As a web developer, I’d like to confess my deep appreciation of the restricted canvas that we get from the basics of the web.” I was totally on-board with this. I mean, my job as a front-end developer consists of working with a fairly specific toolbox. And, honestly, it’s really nice. The constraints of CSS and web standards are comforting.

But then Joshua makes this point, in GrandCentral is People-Centric: “Some people laud those who can design within constraints. But the best designs bust through the right constraints, work only with the absolutely necessary ones, and provide people-centric services.”

As Joshua notes: the trick isn’t knowing how to work within constraints. It’s knowing which constraints to embrace and which constraints to completely throw out the window. Thanks for that clarity, Joshua.


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