Design matters

Fast Company posts a lengthy article about design and designers, hoping to make the case that the way to differentiate your product from someone else’s is good design.
Including profiles of trendsetters like ex-Gucci man Tom Ford, Ford wunderkind J Mays and Robyn Waters who turned lowly retailer Target into trendy retailer Targét, we also learn The 5 Lessons of Design, none of which we took into account when creating the eye-bleeding masterpiece you see before you now.
So, why does glassdog look like it does?

When I started my re-design of the site, I knew only three things: I didn’t want it to look like any other collaborative (or non-collaborative) weblog out there; It still has to conform to certain informational placement and navigation forms; The spirit of the site would be defined by words or phrases like “in your face,” “combative,” “fresh (cheeky),” and “abrasive.”
I chose my collaborators carefully, I told them that there were no rules about what they could link to or say (anonymity was up to each individual for their own reasons—I could hardly be anonymous on my own site, now could I?), and I wanted the site’s visual design to broadcast those ‘take no prisoners’ rules while still hanging on (however faintly) to the idea of “pretty.”
Lately, I was enamored of Alexander Girard’s Millerstripe textile design. Girard was head of textiles at Herman Miller through the 60’s and based Millerstripe on materials he saw during his travels in Mexico and India. The uppermost strip of the header is my own Web-safe take on his design.
From there, all else came. The colors are pulled from that headpiece, the presentation ‘floats’ on a somewhat more subtle lavender background, entries appear on their own slight gradients and I built the interface to be both simple and loud at the same time.
Comments I’ve read around the Web seem mostly negative, but another goal was to simply grab attention, which it appears to have done.
Frankly, it would have been very easy to make yet another gray or blue web site with single-pixel lines delineating one piece from another. And an argument can easily be made that this design detracts from the content, overwhelming anything that is placed within it.
When I look at this design, I can’t help but smile. It’s way over-the-top, lacks any semblance of subtlety and uses maybe the most annoying palette of colors possible. It’s riding the fence between ugliness and beauty, and I’m sure that for many of you it falls very strongly towards ugly.
Luckily, you’re not my client for this project. And as far as goals are concerned, this achieves the ones set out for it beautifully.

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