"Design is about understanding and using form and content, not the debate about them." /Jan Rikus Hillmann, 72-dpi

What do you NOT see on the Web?

Do you feel restrictions such as technology and corporate clients compromise your designs or help your designs and why?

What do you think design on the internet ISN'T?

What has happened with the current online design scene?

What is your favorite site and why?

"Design is about understanding and using form and content, not the debate about them." /Jan Rikus Hillmann, 72-dpi

One of many things this says to me is that form and content are inextricable. That DESIGN EXPRESSES IDEAS. Design supports and deepens the meaning of words. Words shape design.

Years ago I saw what looked like a Christmas card or wedding invitation, except that it was much better designed than normal. In immaculately rendered type, the card read: "Fuck You." Now of course it was a joke, and the surprise of it made you laugh. But the reason it worked was that the form was fighting the content. You expected one thing and got another.

I often think about that card, because it was a such a perfect demo of the way design sets up expectations and helps us understand what's being said.

At the moment, a lot of design has come unmoored from its role as a key component of content. I see this in advertising and especially on the web. In the past two years, an incredible number of new, very gifted designers have arisen. They seem to create one stunning visual tableau after another without breaking a sweat.

Intoxicated by their own power to create a rich new visual vocabulary, many of these designers have forgotten to say something. The visual pleasure they create is undeniable, but in the end it serves no purpose, and that failure to communicate limits the greatness of their achievement. I don't think a lot of them see this. There's a competitive vibe, like with rappers. It's generating a lot of new and interesting textures and effects, as one designer riffs off and tries to outdo another. It's definitely enlarging what design looks like. But when it doesn't communicate, after a while it leaves you with an empty feeling. Eating candy makes you feel good, then it makes you feel sick.

A few of these contentless designers have attained such a level of mastery that their work is more like fine art than design. Beauty that exists for its own sake. And that's great. But when it's not at that level - and especially when it's derivative ("I have a 3-D program too") - it's no longer design and it's not quite art. I don't know what it is. Competitive masturbation, maybe.

Maybe it's just that so many of these designers are really young, have not had any kind of real mentoring, and have been rewarded by a hungry industry that can't wait for them to mature. The industry needs creative directors and lead designers, so it gives these titles to supertalented kids before they've had much branding and content experience.

Without real mentoring and real experience, they fall back on raw talent, of which they have a seemingly endless supply. But it's all form, no content, and that becomes mannerism.

Then again, maybe our society is rewarding mannerism right now because our leaders really don't want us to do much thinking. So design becomes simply another thing to consume. We eat one style after another, raise up one designer after another, and when we're finally bloated enough to rest for the night, we forget to ask if any of it meant a damn thing.

jeffrey zeldman -- zeldman -- alistapart -- webstandards

I don't believe in trying to define what design or fine arts for that matter is or is not, I believe in getting on with it. Defining is for old people.

toke nygaard -- k10k

What do you NOT see on the Web?

You certainly don't see enough space. You'd think that people were being forced to pay for all that 'wasted space' or something. Pages with less on them because we can use intelligent functionality to hide things and make them more structured *and* beautiful at the same time. *sigh* my last client...

paul cleghorn -- senior designer -- razorfish

I think there's so much technology to bathe in now, and I'd love to see more people abusing it to create something, instead of having to figure out how to live with it mostly..

kim granlund -- design technologist -- dieselprint

"I agree with Paul Cleghorn (Razorfish) with the view that there is not enough space on the internet, or should I say not enough effectively and beautifully structured screen layout. The 'white space', the negative areas of space that the eye uses to travel through or around content as an aid or banister rail have gone. Like the paperback in the early 20th Century, the internet 'space' seems to be perceived as being economically liable if not filled and crammed with as much graphical content, devices and information as possible. Obviously the reading of a book is much more a passive experience than the information hunt that is the majority of internet usage, but there again, the destination of a new page in a book is dependent on the enticing nature of the one which precedes it.....a vote for concise, unambiguous 'hidden' content structure there then!"

daniel bonner -- creative director -- akqa

Do you feel restrictions such as technology and corporate clients compromise your designs or help your designs and why?

I feel that technology is not restrictive, it is a tool that you have to grow with on a constant basis. I believe it helps in design especially in the web arena. It gives us designers more options to deal and push it over the edge further and further.

Corporate clients are good bread and butter but I feel that they can be harmful sometimes to your credibility as a designer if you let them push you into a direction you know goes against your knowledge and skill to help them (that's why they hired you in the first place). We have had to let some clients go because they would not take our advice. Sometimes they come crawling back because they figure out that you actually do know what the hell your doing. That, makes it all worth it.

I strongly feel that every experience you have builds your skill level, if you take it in a positive way. If you don't keep up you'll fade away. I feel this forces you to develop much faster being exposed to these elements. A brilliant form should always have functionality, that is the way you achieve it.

Tim Parsons, Art Director - [TheGarageInc.com]

What do you think design on the internet ISN'T?

The internet isn't - html, shockwave, flash, java, JavaScript, asp, interstitial pages, banners, pre-loads, animated gifs, size 1 live text...

The internet is - A domain of communication through which the above tools help to challenge, create, inform, sell, organise, structure, prompt, empower, teach, clarify, engage...
Ranzie Anthony, Creative Director

I think design on the internet IS, but I think that due to former technological constrictions the finer elements of graphic anal retentiveness often were impossible to apply, now they are often forgotten or deemed unnecessary, creating a lack of typographic finesse on the web.
Wild crazy modern design fits easily into the 'new media' world, but clean, timeless design seems to be lacking and somewhat called for in an overflashified world of twirling logos and drop shadows.
Jay Prynne, Designer

Ranzie and Jay - [Tonic Design Ltd.]

What has happened with the current online design scene?

I would say design has become more streamlined are more standardized in some respects but simultaneously more complex because the ambitious pioneers of experimentation have found more time and more ways - with new advancement in computer software tools - to push the limits of abstract computer interfaces. This pushing of limits - like dynamic creations done by Entropy8 and many others in new young design communities (Uploading, Praystation, etc) - is simultaneously merging back as streamlined designers create high-end designs like Smashstatusquo by Method.

While the technology advances it allows designers to either experiment more or to steamline more. Then in turn these two merge back together to create streamlined-experimental - or 'best-of-breed' - sites. This simultaneous convergance and expansion occurs at all levels of design and technology, leading to this current explosion in design. I'm excited to see what the next 15 years brings.

Filip Stoj - [www.digitalthread.com]

What is your favorite site and why?

Because it's so extremely beautiful and well contructed. No unnecessary templates, all the pages are almost individually designed which is so cool. Plus that it updates with new stuff all the time, I love it.

Peter Ström - [www.abelbaker.se]

I think if you got an e-mail from HEL13 asking you if you were interested in supplying them with an interview. . . kill yourself - you have reached your prime.
One can never know what to expect. A perfect union of Design and Technology.

Joshua Davis - [www.praystation.com]

It's got a lot of content packed into a nice original design that has worked for quite some time now. It's not often you see a website that can stand the test of time since the webyear only has seven days. There are sites with better design but they're mostly about design and have no content to show.

Daniel Achilles - [www.precinct.net]

...is one of my favorite sites , it has a classic style which I envy. It's also updated weekly which makes me come back week after week looking through all of the issues and desktops designers have submitted. It's a beautiful site which captivates its audience.

Anthony Kyriazis - [www.onyro.com]