Anyone who’s ever been in the web design industry knows this: there is a war between what clients want, and what users need. If you’ve built a website for someone else, it’s a familiar dilemma: there’s this disconnect between the person footing the bill and the audience they hope to attract or the customers they serve.
There’s a facial expression common to all web designers. Clenched teeth and furrowed brow – the result of intense concentration as we silently hope, wish and pray that the client gets it: that helping their customers in return helps them. Too many hours have been wasted changing colour-schemes because clients liked the cover of a book they were currently reading.
So there it is, the user’s need for efficiency versus the extravagant indulgence of the owner. We often end up with webpages garnished with unnecessary graphics splattered about by committee, navigational devices that are more cute than functional, websites that perpetuate the narrow worldview that everyone has broadband, big screens, perfect vision and hand-eye coordination.
We’ve been trying really, really hard to change that. Really. But truth be told, it’s been 4 years and we’re no closer to helping the Singapore government achieve the epiphany that is needed.
So we’re going to ask you to participate in the irony of ironies – to vote for the MOE website at Singapore Government Web Awards. Yes we know that the voting site is everything we’ve railed against, but it only stresses how immediate and great the need for us to shift the government’s mindset towards good design.
We’re not saying that the MOE website is the best site there is or there ever will be. But when we crafted it we wanted to send a message, primarily to the rest of the government: that good web design stems from a profound sense of empathy for those that use the site, and manifests itself in bold strokes clothed in intricacy – the result of countless hours of poring over tiny details – all culminating towards solving the problem, answering the question and serving the user.
So help us send this message. Vote. Much as we’d like to send you directly to the MOE voting page, we can’t, because of bad web design.
It really needs to stop here.