The Usability Post
Thoughts on design and user experience by Dmitry Fadeyev

On CSS Galleries

Look at a list of top websites in the world. One thing you’ll notice is that none of them are particularly attractive. Let me put it another way: can you imagine any of these sites being featured in CSS galleries? With the exception of one or two, there’s pretty much no chance. And these are the most popular sites in the world.

CSS galleries focus on one specific thing: aesthetics. Because CSS galleries celebrate the best of web design, they misleadingly shift the focus of web design from the underlying product design and problem solving, to style and decoration. The galleries cannot function otherwise because visitors cannot evaluate the usability of a site at a glance–something they can do with looks. Good design becomes associated with good style, rather than what it really is: good product design.

The sites on the list of top websites above from Google may have plenty of flaws, but their designs focus on solving countless problems within a multitude of constraints, rather than creating visuals that cater to emotions. CSS galleries are misleading in that they’re not really examples of good web design, but rather, examples of great illustrations or great typography, and while those things are parts of web design, they’re just that: parts.

“For even falsehood, uttered by the tongue of man, seemed like truth and light before this hopelessly-deaf and unresponsive silence.”

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Further Reading

Proust wrote that the true voyage of discovery is not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes, to behold a hundred universes that each of them beholds. Thus, in the words of Ruskin, what good books give us is not mere knowledge, but sight.

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