Bad User Interface Kills
Christian recently pointed out the new Bad Design Kills effort. It's a great page, and an effort like this is way overdue, but... well, how to best say it?
Their UI sucks.
They have lots of unimportant graphics taking up oodles of screen space, and then they restrain the actual content to an at best 400x400 pixel scrolling text box (I mainly mean the "Propaganda" page, which downright hides the list of files by lumping it in with endless description text).
And to add insult to injury, it's one of those designs that has a fixed size. Even on small screens, there are huge white borders around the content (I think it's Flash), but when you enlarge the browser window, the borders only become larger. The poor jolly roger looks kinda lost in there.
And it doesn't stop there. They're using this small typeface (don't remember the name) that fits in four or five pixels and still is readable. Now, if you have a small screen, that is. But if you have bad eyes or a big screen, this is simply too damn tiny.
Bad UI kills, too.
There's actually a very nice article somewhere on the web how a bad UI in an airplane killed several pilots, but sadly I couldn't find the link :-( I searched NN/G, Woz, Tog... anybody know where I saw this?
I talked to Christian about this some more, and I think I need to clarify some things:
I am not complaining about their site because I'm mixing up design with usability. Rather, I think you should never have design without usability. Nor the other way round, nor either of them without functionality.
The main purpose of a web site is not just to have content, but also to make it accessible to others. In the case of BadDesignKills.com, that would mean being an example for the advantages of a good design and how it will help people who own web sites to better reach their audience. (or in Jamie Zawinsky's words, how it will help them get laid)
Instead, the people of BadDesignKills have made the same mistake many music and movie industry web sites make: They have created an absolutely gorgeous site that subjugates everything to their beautiful design. The result is that it doesn't adapt to the visitors' system, and shows the same large image several times on the same page, instead of using this valuable screen space to show more of the actual information.
A good web site is one that finds the balance between usability, an appealing design and functionality. Usability and design are simply tools to connect your users to the functionality. BadDesignKills, sadly, is too appealing and not usable enough, and people will perceive it as just another example how fancy design impedes usability.
Now don't get me wrong: I love the site, and I agree with their mission. They just need to fix the usability before they do more damage than good.
PS - My mention of "lots of unimportant graphics" doesn't mean I'm against graphics. Quite the opposite. I like them. The reason why my site has so few graphics is that I don't consider myself a good graphics designer. I just take too long to get decent results.