Bread analogies

For a long time I’ve been intending to study HTLM5. Even before that I’ve wanted to design my own webpage, mostly for any blog I was currently writing on. However, that never came to anything due to my decision of actually building the page from scratch. While there are multiple of good tools you can use to build your own site, which help quite a lot when you really want something done, they really don’t tell you what’s really going on. It’s like buying readily made bread and eating it contrasted with bread you yourself prepare. No, that comparison falls short, because that’s more an analogy of buying a website from someone else. OK, here’s a better one; it’s similar compared to bread you yourself baked with vegetables you have grown and with meat you yourself have slaughtered contrasted with bread that has store bought ingredients. You basically know what goes into both of them, but the store bought ingredients will never be on the same level as the one you yourself have taken care from the very beginning. It’s a matter of craftsmanship. Designing a webpage is easy, but actually crafting one isn’t nearly as easy.

So what goes into a webpage? When we start to think about it, a lot of it is dependent on the subject and the theme of the site, but the whole function of the site really will be hanging on the ease-of-use; how the content is displayed, how easy the menus are to navigate, are things clearly showed and so on. I’ve sat through a handful of web design classes, but none of them really dwell into these things and it shows. When I look pages made by professionals, I can see how and why certain things curve and why the colours are selected as they are. These things don’t just come to yourself naturally, or from design, but from psychology. It would be neat to see at least one course of web design that goes deeper into what goes in the users’ head and how certain elements should be put to good use because of how human psyche works.

This is why I refuse to use ready page builders. Before taking tools into my hand I want to know what I am going to do with these tools. Before I went to a forge and hammered my first red hot steel, I studied how metal works and what is needed to be done. Then I hammered the glowing steel, knowing what would be happen and why, and then I let experience teach me for the rest of the time. The timings, the angles of the hit, and all other little things that make the whole. When I know why certain things need to be made with the tools at hand, I can start experimenting and working on them.

It’s hard to do that when I have no real knowledge on what those things are.

Granted, visual and graphics design isn’t my forte by far. That’s something I need to work on, but I do know the basics of shapes that affect the human mind. For example, kids like round shapes. Adults like certain round shapes as well. One also needs to know how colours affect and why, how to combine them and so on. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into designing these things, and the 90’s and early 00’s Internet was full of people trying to figure these things out. I love using the WayBack machine to check some of the old sites that function miraculously well, even thou the overall look is outdated. Then again, there’s a Japanese video game site that looks something straight out of February of 1997 with its flashing banner and scrolling text. It’s awesome. It’s also a decent source of Japanese retro games, thou the postage costs can be rather high.

Nevertheless, such site works because at the core level the design is dead simple to navigate and go through. As much as one needs to emphasize on the look of the site, more important is how it ultimately works. The two can’t be really separated from each other, as a site needs to make a good impression at first sight. Companies either tend to have a splash page or something to make that good impression, but splash pages have a bad habit of being heavy and a signal of upcoming FLASH hell.

That’s one thing; the use of FLASH is overbearing nowadays. This is the main reason I wish to learn HTML5, is because I should be able to control the code as I want. A light web page is a page where people wish to visit often and even more often if it has good content and nice visuals.

When you are able to control all the aspects that a site has, then you’re able to make anything you wish. With the site builders this isn’t the case; you only control the looks of it, which can result in very heavy sites, thus not in a very pleasant browsing experience. It’s a balance between complete control with heavy duty versus lack of control with light duty. While anyone would like to see themselves going where the fence is the lowest, it rarely gives out satisfactory results. Then again, I need to ask who wouldn’t want total control over something they’re designing and building? Here it’s not a matter of what’s the easiest or fastest way, it’s a matter what’s the best way. After all the basics have been learned and the coding itself starts coming out naturally, then the designer can start doing those awesome webpage designs.

But Aalt, it’s not the designer’s job to know how to code. In that, you’re somewhat right, but also somewhat wrong. Designers are really multiskill people to some extent. A proper designer would always get into the very bottom of anything he is designing and wouldn’t be scared of learning the hard way. If they can’t give a damn about what goes behind their own creation, then those guys can just go work in Subway and make me that damn bread.

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