Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

Searching for answers in sales and marketing

Archive for April, 2007

A Camel is a Horse Designed by a Committee

I’m still a student of design (aren’t we all), but was still surprised that I had not heard this famous hilarious quote until recently. And how true it rings.

I first saw it in this SEOmoz blog entry posted last year, in which web designer Matthew Inman demonstrated the ghastly results that abound when multiple people are involved in the design process. The following graphs are taken from that post (click to view larger).

The Design Curve

The Design Curve 

After I finished laughing (may cause eyes of small children to bleed?!), I got to thinking about it. It’s funny initially, mostly because it’s somewhat true. It’s true that the bigger a team of designers (a team of anything is bound to have its plights), the harder it is to produce something everyone will agree upon, resulting in a sub-par design. Designers across all disciplines have certainly made good designs go bad with the wrong kind of input from the “wrong kind of people,” which Matthew described in his post – basically people with little to no design skills. We’ve all heard “It just doesn’t feel right,” from someone with zero design background, as someone observed in a response to Matthew’s post. What subsequently happens is, the designer goes back into the design, frustrated for hours, and tries to solve the problem of making it “feel right,” which is theoretically impossible to do.

While it’s funny, and true to an extent, input is still input. And input is valuable. It’s important to understand how people (designers and non-designers alike) react to imagery, because they’ll all be exposed to it. I could easily get on my high horse and disregard what my cousin or eye doctor critiques, but why shouldn’t their opinions matter? Aren’t they, like everyone else potentially, visitors to my website or audiences to my designs? Ultimately, it’s up to the designer to make the decisions based on those reactions.

The Blog Age

I blog, you blog, we all blog. Here’s a blog about blogging.

Who doesn’t have a blog? Technorati, blog search engine, currently has 71 million blogs indexed. I am surrounded by feed fiends, blog bookmarkers, and (recently) Diggers of social content. I call it The Blog Age.

The Blog Age is marked with the saturation of user-generated content. People have always been creating the media we consume, but that once elite group has now transpired to become…anyone with a computer and internet access. Welcome to the blogosphere.

Before they are anything else, blogs are diaries. With the introduction of the world wide web in the 80s, diaries moved from paper to cyberspace, and have grown (and grown) ever since. In the early blogging days, they existed as open forums or personal homepages and usually were manually updated parts of a website. They were called online diaries before blogs came to be. The word blog was officially adopted when Peter Merholz broke the word “weblog” into “we blog” on his blog, Peterme.com, in 1999. The Blog Age begins.

Several online diary sites began to launch in the late 90s, most notably Xanga, still a leader in the industry. It was quickly followed by Open Diary, LiveJournal, Diaryland, and Blogger (later to be bought by Google). It was shortly after this time that current blogebrities like Andrew Sullivan started to gain popularity. The blogosphere has since kept snowballing, and the hill seems endless.

The concerns vary with the huge presence of blogging on the web. How do you gain blog visibility? How will companies incorporate blogs into their marketing mix? Where do you draw the line between personal blogs and business blogs? When does time spent writing/reading/searching blogs become too much time? They’re slowly consuming the web, and with what benefit? Sure, communication, amusement, selective news…but at the cost of hours upon hours of time? Worth it? I guess that’s your call.

For now, we can’t escape it. There is a blog for everything, even a blog about nothing, or a blog about blogging! We’ve even developed a blogging language to further niche-ify the community. It seems a forever-growing trend (a là iPods and Hybrids); so pervasive we choose to keep feeding the fire.

So go write another blog.