wow – that's cool…

If you find a likable creation on the web, then you may utter a quiet “wow – that's cool”. If you're a web designer, or aspiring to become one, then you may want to learn how you can make “cool” creations like that.

As you look around for more “cool” creations, you may pick up terms like “Web 2.0”, “Ajax”, “Flash” etc., and you might be excused for thinking that these terms describe elements you definitely need in order to create something “cool”.

The fact is that these terms means next to nothing, and although the inclusion of what's behind these terms may improve your “cool factor” inside certain narrow groups, they may limit your chances to ever reach outside those groups. None of these elements means you'll have to live with such limitations if you include them, but you definitely have to know what you're doing if you want to avoid built-in limitations.

the importance of being “cool”…

To most people it is more important to be seen as “cool” than to know what they're doing, how things work, and how to make things work it they don't. It's the same both on and off the web, but the web has the added factor of being “the new kid on the block” where many think that “anything goes” – even if it doesn't work.

Too many “Web 2.0” sites don't work well, or at all, outside the creator's sandbox (his/her own browser), but there are plenty of visitors who think these sites are “cool” because they (the visitors) play in the same narrow sandbox. The “cool” factor seems to be enough to justify these sites existence, and you'll find plenty of people who think that's all these sites need – even if they don't work.

the “cool” factor goes in circles…

I have time and time again seen clueless “web designers” in the process of starting their own businesses or careers based entirely on the “cool” factor. They copy and steal everything that looks “cool” and “Web 2.0”, and often end up copying and stealing from each other – creating a clueless circle.

At some point they may start wondering why something doesn't work, but they often have a hard time accepting that it's their own fault. Protecting their own cluelessness behind the opinions of their equally clueless peers, is a quite normal defense for the really “cool” ones – shielded from reality within their own clueless circle. Well, burying ones head in the sand may provide better “protection”.

I'm not “cool”…

I am technology centric when it comes to web design. Not because technology matters to me, but because technology is all that's available to me in my attempts to get through to humans across the world wide web. Being “cool” amongst the “cool” doesn't appeal to me – I want solutions that work for the many.

The media – “hypermedia” in this case – matters most, so I need a pretty broad understanding of the many media my creations may end up across or on. Investigating that part of technology is definitely worth spending some time on. It is also important to know how people use, and sometimes abuse, these media.

My position is that we have to master the technology in order to use it to our users' advantage, so there's nothing wrong in being technology centric – as long as we understand our users needs.

Once we have acquired a bit more than basic knowledge about technology and users, we can start finding combinations that work for the many. Knowledge means we're not limited by existing technology, but rather that our ability to use technology to enhance our creations are improved. We can create pretty “cool” things that improve all our users' experience, as long as we know what we're doing.

the “un-cool” approach…

I first figure out what a particular combination of technology can do for all users, and then I focus on making the most out of that technology. Then I add more technology based solutions – even if it doesn't work for all users, and make the most out of that for those it works for.

After that I may keep on adding even more, and add to the experience – and maybe even to the “cool factor” – for those with preferences a bit closer to mine than the average web surfer. I know there are a few of those non-average web surfers around, and I can't see any reason not to add something extra for them.

I'm not excluding any technology, term or method when I go into the creative process. I can add whatever I want – I just have to make sure I'm not transferring any limitations from my creations into visitors' software.

my “un-cool” conclusion…

I don't like the unfriendly reception provided by many of the “cool” web sites, so I don't think I'll ever go very far into those circles – neither as a designer nor as a visitor.

I like to know what I'm doing while I'm doing it. That is after all for the most part why I am doing what I do – whatever it is, so I see no reason to change.

The technology centric circles provide a more solid base, from where I can reach out to all humans, across the world wide web. Everything works far better that way – especially for visitors to my sites.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 18.mar.2007
last rev: 18.dec.2007


fashionable: fashionable and sophisticated ( informal )
— MSN Encarta

excellent: used to indicate approval or admiration ( slang )
— MSN Encarta

OK: used to indicate agreement or acceptance ( slang )
— MSN Encarta

unfriendly: unfriendly or unenthusiastic
— MSN Encarta

I want to reach out to all humans, across the world wide web
— Georg

addition to:
external resources

method of applying technical knowledge: a method or methodology that applies technical knowledge or tools
— MSN Encarta