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January 17, 2011

Landmark //

Let’s be honest — over the last several years, there’s been more than a metric tonne of website and web interface design flaunted by “designers” (finger quote emphasis mine) that has been little more than pixel for pixel copies of the creative work and aesthetic that’s originated out of Cupertino. Does it actually count as original? Is it appropriate? Is there real strategy or conceptual thinking to stand behind it? Is it really that interesting — that a designer took someone else’s “style” and painted it on a layout?

I think Warren Buffet’s comments about imitators (via Liz Danzico) gets to the heart of the issue — that like spec work, it undermines the efforts of serious practitioners.

…there’s a “natural progression” to how good new ideas go badly wrong. He called this progression the “three Is.” First come the innovators, who see opportunities that others don’t and champion new ideas that create genuine value. Then come the imitators, who copy what the innovators have done. Sometimes they improve on the original idea, often they tarnish it. Last come the idiots, whose avarice undermines the very innovations they are trying to exploit. (20:45)

Perhaps it’s just perception or that I’m getting old and crotchety but the sheer amount of attention “shiny” gets over actual substance in the web world is disheartening. What happened to original thought? If someone else’s “style” is your secret sauce, you’ve failed, and your clients’ goals may not be far behind.

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