Let’s Get Critical.

01/21/11 Joe

I think it’s time web development had a critical culture. Sure occasionally people pop off on Twitter, but it’s seldom reasoned, or well thought out. It’s a half-dashed sluffed-off thought that nobody, especially the critiqued, can profit from.

I think it would benefit clients and developers alike to see factual discourse on more than just “it looks cool on my monitor.” We should be assessing work on several attributes: design, architecture, copy, interactivity, compatibility, as well as the technical aspects living under the hood.

My hope would be that we can raise the bar for our chosen industry- treating it like the liberal art that it is. Giving credit where credit is due. Pointing out where the critiqued, and we as a whole, can get better. I think the “community” feel of web design is fantastic. But mutual back-pats are not going to elevate our craft to the status that oil painting or even editorial magazine design holds in the history of art.

So who’s ready? Do you have a critical eye, a cutting whit, and impeccable taste? Are you unafraid of being adored by some and loathed by others? Are you the type of person who can love someone dearly yet still tell them that their breath stinks? Then you have a lot of work to do. Public critical analysis of web development is in its infancy, and we all need you to help it grow up.

  1. Hi there, I tend to agree. Some practical suggestions might help get things started, and in that vein this Mashable post is a good summary of some of the web design feedback tools available: http://mashable.com/2010/07/22/web-design-feedback-tools/

    I realise that being measuredly critical – and ready to receive and act on critique – is not specifically a “tools” issue. This article includes practical guidelines for giving and receiving constructive web design criticism: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/03/02/web-design-criticism-a-how-to/

    I also agree with you that Twitter is not a suitable medium for proper design criticism. Many tweets are typed in during momentary frustration and don’t give a balanced view of the overall experience. Personally I can’t stand this “drive-by criticism” – Jazon Z. of 37signals recently wrote a good post about this, too: http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2732-there-is-no-place-for-just-shitting-all-over-other-peoples-work

    Thanks for a good post, and an interesting call to action!

  2. Joe says:

    Jussi,
    Thanks for writing back!

  3. No worries at all Joe. Just spotted this over at Think Vitamin too, very timely:

    The Art of the Design Critique By Aarron Walter
    http://thinkvitamin.com/design/the-art-of-the-design-critique/

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