Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lorem ipsum mortuus est

The minority who studied Latin or the majority with access to, may wonder why I have decided to declare that paragraphs of random text are dead. The simple answer being that I cannot find a latin translation for "mocking up" which is what should really on the digital coroners slab.

In one of those handy yet ultimately fruitless moves, "mocking up" is one of the many practices that have been transitioned between the print and online environments, despite being utterly unfit for purpose.

When working in print there are a few important variables that revolve around content, design and readibility. However, in the digital environment this list expands to content, interaction, usability, accessibility, response and readibility. If we put the primacy of content to one side for a moment you are left with two quite different lists, where the former is largely down to aesthetics and the second more defined by function. In this instance a flat Photoshop document is of extremely limited use as it fails to address any issues of function which ultimately are far more important than physical design.

How something reads, works and responds when put in front of a user is not defined by design but by its architecture and build. Its why studies show that users make decisions around web page design in microseconds, as these are simply not what the mind is focussed on. Look at the web pages you use the most - are they fantastic designs or are the the most useful to you (think Google).

Which is where the problem really comes to a head. You cannot have function without content on the web. A link that doesn't go somewhere isn't a link its a dead end. A page without meaningful content that you can react to and with, is a dead loss.

In the digital environment we need to be thinking of user experience, content streams, wireframes and usability. Not flat designs and mock ups. Think of your favourite movie and then think of it again "mock up" with meaningless content. It won't be your favourite movie any more? So if you find yourself wanting a mock up of a site, an app or anything else then you are probably asking the wrong question, as it will have the opposite to the desired effect.

PS I realise the incongruity of using a latin headline on a page demanding clear content, but that is the point, isn't it?