It’s taken three weeks but we moved into our new old house this morning. Laptop got upgraded thanks to the good folks at Winnipeg’s finest Mac shop.
I’ve been thinking much about design lately and have come across few very good sites recently. But it seems to me that design for the Web has taken a new turn and a new life the past few months. Much of this is thanks to Web standards and the undaunted promoters of good markup and clean styling. A few notes:

  • Usability is in. Small fonts are out.
  • Identities on websites have become smaller, more obscure, and perhaps more risk averse. Clean, clear (almost Web safe) colors are important and technologically sophisticated look is relatively important.
  • Blogs are overblown. There is a recent article in Macleans [ed: Oh, he’s so Canadian, now] this week noting that 99% of blogs receive 10 or fewer hits per day. Perhaps Deckchairs is on its way to fantastic obscurity right now.
  • Concomittantly, RSS is overblown as a reading mechanism. Contextual design is still very important to online visitors who want to get a sense of the writer and his or her place within an information hierarchy and in relation to the site being published. While a good many people are slightly aghast that Google is talking about patenting its advertising RSS feeds, those good many probably amount to a city the size of Schenectday. And I like Schenectady!
  • There are a few examples of talented Web designers who recently built sites that don’t cut it in terms of good design. To wit, CapGemini was redesigned by Douglas Bowman and it’s very average. Subnavigation is, oddly, on the right side of the site. I showed the site to one client and she couldn’t even find the subnavigation until I pointed it out to her.
  • Underlined links are, rightly, coming back but I think this is a trend and not a solid sign of better usability becoming of import. I hope I am incorrect.
  • Navigation generally has become a more naturalized (or standardized) component of good Web design. We no longer see, much, repeated navigation at the bottom of a site. There are fewer drop-down menus. There’s less Flash menuing, which is often used to obscure the navigation itself. And larger typefaces are being used to pull in all those aging boomers. Still a lot of new sites stink.
  • Photography is playing a more important role on almost every website, often too much. There are now so many bad stock photography sites that any old designer can find something that seems cool (a picture of an outlet with lightning rods coming out of it or an image of a girl screaming excitedly into her cell phone to a friend) that stock has become immature rather than mature. Oops, here comes a plug.
  • Companies like 37Signals and Firewheel are doing the design world justice by making applications that are useful, pretty, fast, functional and serious.

Now I can go to sleep.