Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson
We were recently asked why we remain unexcited about the latest capabilities on the Web-development frontier. It's groundbreaking work! We can do things no one has been able to do before! We're past "[skip intro]" for that Flash front end, and well in to the "real" Web experience. So why aren't we levitating with anticipation?
Web technologies have finally made a tremendous leap forward: Interactions are richer than ever, and UI functionality is so mind-boggling that we are easily...um, returned to where we were on the desktop 25 years ago. It's a momentous shift! Now we can do what we've been able to do all along, only in a different medium!
For the professional designer, Web 2.0 can be the dream to open up the user experience. For everyone else, we predict the kind of behavior evident when desktop publishing was the newest craze. You have 20 fonts? Use them all!
As a result, we can now watch as the trendy Web-designer community differentiates itself into "real" designers who know what to do with a selection highlight, versus those who can create cool animations in Flash, versus those engineers who, experimenting with HTML, discover that design really isn't all that hard.
With real-live state transitions, comfortably familiar controls, and mature tools, the Web is truly ready to rock. In a way that doesn't separate the artists from the problem solvers, the newly enriched Web 2.0 medium is guaranteed to spawn unfortunate new user requirements, just as Flash has inspired the dynamic feel everyone wants from their cell phone. What can the average user expect? We predict a caffeinated jolt of dynamic confusion before desktop-application design standards are adopted.
Consider, for effect, the humble mail client. Some Web-mail clients are nicely designed and well thought out (we call to mind the Yahoo! email client featured in our last issue). Others are extended experiments in porting a desktop client rather than suiting a design to a different medium.
For the professional designer, Web 2.0 can be the dream to open up the user experience. For everyone else, we predict the kind of behavior evident when desktop publishing was the newest craze. You have 20 fonts? Use them all! Seasoned designers know how to craft a design to fit a medium. We are about to witness an entirely new generation of designers who have never had the pleasure of laboring through platform guidelines. What will serve as their heuristics? Who will be their gurus? What will constrain their imaginations and provide their inspiration? Will the YouTube/MySpace generation design for everyone? We can hardly wait to see what happens. Web finance fun? Information architecture delightful? Interactivity elegant or pedestrian? Check back in a couple of years. We should have some answers.<eic>
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