Chris Richards

The transcendence from a traditional to modern digital designer.

First off, I’m going to tell myself to “deal with it!”, We’re in an industry of perpetual change that is governed by changes in technology ever approaching its singularity; if we don’t embrace and ride the wave we get pulled into the riptide.


Part 1: Death

Over the last three or four years the playing field has altered, from conceptual site designs – whose purpose was to inspire a creative experience – to usability-driven, mobile-first, responsive tetris-stacking sites.

Now, I’m classically trained and from an era when one to three design routes were submitted to the client: one safe (the banker, client’s most likely choice), one that pushes a different concept, and the final wild card (just to prove we’re creative).

Within our little design section of the studio it was the third that truly stood the test of a creative mind. Although the clients always wanted a Frankenstein’s monster of all three, that third wild card was embraced and nurtured within the team – the creative idea was King.

Today, the Gods of Responsive have muddied my classical training and previous nurture.


Part 2: Denial

Example in context:

So I’m at a new project kick-off workshop and from the moment I hear the name of the client I’m instantaneously conceptualising a holistic concept, as well as analytically placing this flurry of ideas alongside the client’s KPI’s. Not only that but I have two more on the back-burner that, with some fleshing out, could make solid second and a wildcard third route. The client’s going to be happy that I’ve met the objectives and created an aesthetically pleasing design, I’m happy because I’ve still got it!.

But then the Gods come to weigh their verdict: “Looks nice, have you considered how it will stack responsively?” or “Will that work on mobile, because we don’t have budget to build a bespoke mobile version also?” I look back at my wildcard, the third route and delete it.


Part 3: Acceptance

I deleted it for three reasons:

1.  My ego
I realised I’ve designed something today that very few end-users will appreciate in all its glory, except a few other designers with a similar hi-spec monitor setup. I battle with denial telling myself its future-proof and America has these monitors by default, but on reflection I have been designing for designers subconsciously .

2.  Content is king
As much as I’d like to think it’s the design, content is king. When I’m browsing objectively, the design is subconscious and the content is in the forefront, so I’m happy as long as I get what I need with as few clicks as possible.

3.  It’s not that responsive
Whether it’s fluid, adaptive, or designed within safe parameters and has a mobile version, the smallest size is these days the most important. From analytical data, devices are the most preferred browsing method, and why shouldn’t they be? If you’re at home wouldn’t you rather chill with a tablet rather than feel the weight of a laptop and it’s overheating processor on your thighs?


Part:4 Transcendence

Final thought:

The modern designer still tries to find that creative concept whether it’s based on Frank Millers SIN CITY comic style, or it scrolls up not down, as long as it works within a fluid grid, at the smallest size, with the easiest, most gorgeously simplistic IA, that strives to not make every design look like it’s a white minimalist  modular responsive WordPress theme, it’s a worthy evolution.

Just look at any Google experiment microsite, or any editorial news site that’s worth it’s weight in recognition.