On the art of serving business
Let’s go back to the second half of the 90s. The golden time of the formation of the Internet in Russia. The birth of the neologism “Runet”. High-speed modems at 28.8 and fashionable providers: Cityline, Russia On-Line, MTU. Popular columnists are Ivan Parovozoff and someone else who is not at all remembered. Conceptual disputes with FIDO fans (not always in our favor). Geocites.Com server, where everyone (!) Can create a homepage for free. Remember?
And now – the next step. Recall what were the first Russian (well, or – Russian-language) sites. Recall and have some fun. Either – red letters on a turquoise background (schoolchildren now have such sites on narod.ru, and even that seems like a parody), or – very beautiful, very heavy and completely non-functional resources. Clearly expensive. Clearly made by professionals. But – by professionals in some completely different field. Beauty and functionality did not find points of contact. Ugliness, however, too – but the ugly sites, at least, were cheaper for the owners.
So, it’s not surprising that beauty has become a web designer’s dodger for almost a decade. It is ugly, but in principle, functional Internet resources set the fashion for many years to come. The design requirements were very simple: it should be invisible. It should not interfere with the visitor to get acquainted with the commercial offer. That, given the origin, is not surprising: de facto this approach meant that the site should not be scary. The site is a tool. The beauty of the tool is in its functionality.
Flawless functionality = flawless facelessness?
And here we plunge into the endless sea of modern sites. Functional and transparent, with perfect usability (this is how functionalist designers call their absolute idol – usability) and … empty. The endless sea of sites turns out to be just a crowd of clones, mercilessly exploiting several successful principles. The whole world is moving towards differentiation and individualism, and corporate websites and electronic outlets are dragging users into the swamp of totalitarian GOST and unified, typical solutions.
The individuality and “shock force” of the resource – what is needed to attract the attention of users – were left out of the lined white liner of modern web design. And many companies are already beginning to reap the benefits of this approach. Users (who in this context are better called “potential customers”) are not interested in seeing the same good visual solutions for the hundredth, thousandth time. Of course, it becomes easier to navigate. And the interest disappears. On this occasion, by the way, you can recall the plot of Eldar Ryazanov’s story “The Irony of Fate” – the part that deals with typical houses and typical districts of Soviet cities that made the “acclimatization” of visitors almost instantaneous. Only here in the film all this is presented with inimitable sarcasm, and it is clear that the authors of the picture in no way put undoubtedly functional boxes of nine and sixteen floors above the unique architectures of old Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Modern sites users do not notice. Pass “through” them, take the necessary information, close the browser window and forever forget about the existence of the resource. If the next time the search engine brings the same person to the same resource, he will not be able to remember whether he was here or not – only the changed color of the link can serve as a clue. What kind of branding can there be? .. Many companies donate substantial sums to “typical” designers for the right to place their website in orderly rows of “meta-Internet” – sites with identical way of presenting information. Money, therefore, fly away … no, not into the pipe. Sales are coming. Tactical tasks in varying degrees are performed. But there can be no talk of the realization of strategic goals with such an approach. Facelessness cannot create devotees.
Beauty will save the Internet
So, it becomes clear: individualism is necessary. Not a bad and tasteless individualism of a violet font on a green background, but a real one. The visitor will definitely pay attention to the beautiful and unusual site that stands out from the gray crowd. Just as he will turn him on one good oil portrait among thousands of photos from covers of glossy magazines.
If a person is given the opportunity to choose, he will choose not the simplest solution, but the most beautiful one. A beautiful site with unusual “chips”, non-standard color, unusual (but logical and natural) arrangement of navigation elements immediately draws close attention to themselves. In a fraction of a second, the user understands that he didn’t get to the next dump of typical information and standard offers, but to a place where they love their work and respect those who show interest in it.
And for this, for this passion for beauty and individuality, the user forgives the site unusual navigation (which even on the most unusual site can be made convenient, you just need to know how and not be afraid to design interfaces, rejecting the thoughtless copying of others — even successful ones that have become standard) development). And a little longer loading also forgives. Because you can look at the white sheet without the Internet, and on sites you want to see something that is not found elsewhere. In general, users like beautiful and unusual sites. They like it so much that companies that are concerned with such an “aesthetic business tool” strengthen their positions every day.
The power to change the world … and generate income
Famous musician Chris Carter said: “Art is not a mirror, but a hammer”. Ordering ordered solutions and ordinary (even if convenient, familiar and functional) sites, in the long run, are commercially unprofitable. Users do not notice and pass by the reflections of blinkered and fearful “artists.” They need something amazing. The fact that once again will break the frame of perception, will bring to a new level their understanding of what the site should be.