J. Allen wrote:
I figured most web designers, like yourself Owain, would take a look at the new site and wonder just how the hell a user is supposed to navigate through everything.
Yeah, that's what you'd think. Sometimes I wonder if the designers ever end up using the websites they design. I'm not even a professional designer, yet I tend to see these things as I've self-taught myself at an early enough age, so design mistakes pop right out at me. Mainly the main reason why sites like these get redesigned like they do is due to what I like to call executive intervention. Sometimes it's not even a designer's decision, but rather an executive who has a bright idea on paper, which might not be such a great design philosophy, and then has the design passed on to the designer where it's up to them to implement, whichever way they see fit. Sometimes, I guess it can be a bit like a marketing group trying to come up with ideas where it's not a single person doing the job. Point is, that the person doing the actual designing doesn't always know or follow the design guidelines, and the end result is getting something like that Netflix redesign. Because an executive had something in mind and they want to see it achieved no matter what. I've often had people request things to be designed a certain way without knowing if it's possible or not to design it the way they want it. It's a bit like having someone who knows nothing about designing a house telling a designer how it should be designed. The house itself might look like it was designed by a kid in the end. To that end, that's exactly what it looks like happened in the case of the Netflix site. It looks like an executive wanted the site redesigned in a way they thought looked good and wanted their designers to implement the design, despite the fact that it removes some key usability points. I feel I stare at that website and wonder where my eyes should go, which isn't a good thing. At the same time, there's also the issue that a site can also be too sparsely designed. There's a website I visit from time to time that has gotten a redesign, only I feel like it's almost empty, to the point of not knowing where to go for the things I want. Then again, maybe it's because I've expected things to be too complicated.
I'm a trained journalist, and I see a similar thing with these amateur news blogs. People think just because they can design a website or write news stories that they actually CAN design a website or write news stories. Just as competent journalists have to abide by the rules regarding libel and the use of reliable sources for information, so too there are design rules for layout - print or digital - that need to be followed otherwise it creates a mess.
Ahh, yeah, the blog. See, the thing isn't so much the blog itself, but rather the way it's used. The blog originally was meant as a diary for people to have a place to write but and have a little corner for themselves for friends to follow if they wanted. I don't think it was ever meant to be used professionally. But like you say, that voice comes out and people tend to feel like they can write like journalists. Heck, I've even done it myself, I fully admit. The blog itself though? I think it breaks several design rules, but it also became popular after my webdesign course in college, so I can't really complain. Things evolve. I've recently helped convert my astronomy club's website to a blog format, not so much to be a blog, but for it to be easier to update and be more active and dynamic. I think that it serves the purpose as a content management system. So, design first, content second in this case.