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Mar 12 2006

SXSWi 2006: Traditional Design and New Technology

A few good questions were raised at this panel, mostly about aesthetics and emotional responses to design on the web. Mark Boulton proposed that we aren’t doing enough to evoke an emotional response from our audience. Many people didn’t quite agree, but I’m inclined to think that there is a lot that we could to to streamline the messages our websites send.

It seems in today’s internet most websites suffer from multiple personality disorder: trying to accomplish the goals of each constituency involved in their creation. The result is a confusing, emotionless message, regardless of aesthetics. We need to focus on concrete goals, and design around those with purpose.

A member of the audience challenged the panel to consider their definition of emotional response given that there are sites, like eBay, that have a very loyal following in spite of poor ‘design’ or aesthetics. I tend to agree that aesthetics are not the only part of a website that tell us if it is designed well, or designed usefully. I do, however, believe that aesthetics are a key part of the user experience, and if you compared two websites with exactly the same function, people would choose to use the one that ‘looked better.’ What do you think?