Web branding run amuck

This morning while I’m drinking coffee and reading the paper, my wife and partner in our web development company – Just Imagine, Inc., having just finished dealing with overnight emails, decides to check the menu of a Charleston, SC restaurant we’ve talked about visiting. Of course I didn’t know what she was doing when she started. But after a few choice words about Flash and FireFox, I had to look up.

Not only had she encountered a site with an elaborate (nice way of saying long) Flash intro, the site didn’t work properly in FireFox – 2 cardinal sins in the first 15 seconds. Now normally she would have been on to another site before getting upset, but she really wanted to see the menu of this fancy establishment. So she was forced to open IE – sin #3.

Now my wife is a pretty experienced web user, in fact she is webmaster to two sites – a Mayan Riviera travel site and her own group travel site. She knows all about user expectations and dos and don’ts of effective web development.

My question is (rhetorical, of course) why do THEY do it? Why do web designers/graphic artists insist on trying to turn our thirst for immediately accessible information into an irritating lecture on branding or some other such silliness? Why can’t a website be a website, a video a video and a brochure a brochure? Don’t they get that by alienating some large percentage of visitors that they do their client a disservice?

The answer of course to all of the above is they do what they do through the prism of design being a message, in fact THE message, unto itself. Certainly true in the world of print, where one has time to appreciate it. The web, however, has different requirements.


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