Content Marketing

Should Web 2.0 Design be Scrapped?

Elliot Jay Stocks is putting out the battle cry for designers… abandon the Web 2.0 look and fight your clients who push for it.

NOTE: Be sure to visit Elliot’s site, the design is absolutely stunning.

I disagree with Elliot that it should be destroyed. Working in the Marketing field, you recognize that there is a herd mentality to design. Companies like Apple have some deep pockets and have an expectation of design genius associated with their brand. The consumer expects that the designs associated with Apple’s products, packaging and marketing will break new ground. (Except for the black background ads with the bright light on one side of the spokesperson… I think it looks ridiculous).

The rest of the companies are best suited to follow the lead. Just as fashion follows trends, so does design. The ‘herd’ appreciates visual aesthetics that provides indication that it’s related to a specific trend or technology. When I come across a new application like Mixx or rssHugger, before I ever dig into the application, I’m struck with the visual cue that this is an application built on the newest technology.

Individuality and creativity are important, but when everyone else is wearing boot leg jeans and you show up in bell bottoms, people will immediately question your fashion sense. Right or wrong, this is human behavior. In this day and age where consumers are swiftly moving from MySpace to Facebook, or Twitter to Tumblr, it’s important that your design emulates that you have adopted the latest fashion on the web.

I respect Elliot’s opinion as a talented artist and unique designer, but I’d recommend companies don’t scrap Web 2.0 design just yet. Even Elliot admits that there are good reasons to follow the herd. Elliot and I do agree on the real challenge: How to work within the boundaries of Web 2.0 aesthetics and still come off as being original. And if you’re looking for what elements are key, Elliot’s put together a great presentation with all the aesthetics associated with Web 2.0 design!

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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  1. Typical myopic and self-centered designer. I read his post then viewed his presentation expecting to gain some real insight yet only found a post that preached to the choir of his FOWD audience; a group whose shared ethos is wanting to have creative freedom without having to worry about business goals. Ironically it’s the Web 2.0 version of the ad agency that focuses on winning creative awards instead of focusing on driving revenue to their client’s bottom line.

    I’d pay a lot more attention to Jakob Nielsen and Nielsen’s Law: “People use other people’s website far more often than yours (so making your site consistent with other sites will increase usability and hence better help you achieve your business goals.)

  2. See, the challenge is that many non-designers do their own site design.. Some of us would love to be able to design a site like Mr. Stocks, however we lack the skill and/or the budget to do so.

    When talking about “Web 2.0”, yes design isn’t mentioned, however, we all understand the look: glossy stuff, lines, beveled edges, reflections, and outer glows… (I think I’ve got them all covered too!). Sure, everyone is jumping on board and going buck-wild with it, however, if we look at the alternatives, we’re left with large hunks of colour (which may or may not even work together), a complete lack of depth, and sad Webdings or worse, clip-art…

    The web 2.0 look is for the rest of us who understand that we lack the skills of a really good designer, yet understand the value of actually putting some effort into it beyond changing the text in the default WordPress theme…

    1. One of the great things aobut WordPress (ok. about CSS) is that it seperates design and content. Which means that you can download a beautifully designed theme and not worry about design too much afterwards.

      I for one am currently trying to go the minimalistic way, and am playing around with a type-centered theme.

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