by Duncan Wilcox — July 7, 2014
A Radiohead song I love says “Anybody can play guitar”. Maybe you won't play like Radiohead right from the start, but the incredibly inspiring message from someone like Radiohead is empowering and encouraging. You know you can, as you scream “I wanna be in a band when I get to heaven”, if only you want it.
Compare and contrast with web design, which you might think means:
• learning to “code” in multiple idioms;
• using a symbolic textual medium to produce a two dimensional graphic;
• figuring out obscure details about web browsers.
This doesn’t sound much like design at all.
Anybody can play guitar, not everybody can play with web design.
In 1985 the desktop publishing market exploded, with the introduction the Apple LaserWriter printer and Aldus PageMaker.
The combination of LaserWriter and PageMaker were the key turning point in revolutionizing an industry that had relied—for centuries—on movable type and the printing press.
PageMaker was running on a monochrome 512x342 Mac screen. I can almost hear the skeptics, citing the superiority of typesetting lead casted letter forms, or the superiority of offset lithography over the LaserWriter.
It did take a while, and for the most part we don’t even print anymore, but desktop publishing was an amazing enabler. It separated the highly technical skill of running a printing press from the graphic design skills, and essentially solved the former.
Sure people did go nuts with fonts and colors and created some truly crazy pages, but DTP was a huge liberation. You knew you could create a great looking page if you wanted, anybody could play.
Some highly skilled and technically minded people, which I truly respect, have worked through the past years to define web standards and ensure that HTML documents are universally accessible and future proof.
Today web development is at a point where managing the print process was 30 years ago. Part of the process is highly technical, and not about design at all. Sure web development does have some specific concepts that anybody designing for the web medium should know about, it’s not rocket science.
Design has always been about dealing with constraints, and web design isn’t any different.
With proper tools the technical development part of web design is solved, and the graphic design part is open to anybody with a firm grasp of the constraints.
We believe the Sparkle website building app is a turning point in web design, in the same way PageMaker and the LaserWriter were for printing presses.
We might be in an equivalent of the monochrome Mac era still, but there’s no turning back.
Sparkle loves graphic designers and is striving to become the best visual tool to create websites.
We will soon be adding more articles with example websites and more thoughts on visual web development.