Establish a (bad) Mood with typography…

I like Codrops (the developers’ blog, “pushing the boundaries of how websites are built from the fundamental structure to the most delicate interaction effects.” http://tympanus.net/codrops/ ) but when expertise in one discipline is pasted over into another the cracks start to show.

Take the latest mail

Establish a Mood with Typography | Codrops.

that arrived this morning, along with a string of well-intentioned but rather less well-worked through recommendations (captured neatly in the picture). The ‘rules’ such as they are (Project Goals, Moods, Themes, etc) while all laudable suffered from the mistaken belief that simply stating them makes you an expert and the examples cited simply under-scored a lot about what’s not good about what I’m going to call ‘distributed design’.

‘Distributed design’ takes whatever’s ‘free’ online (layouts, css, fonts, images, etc) and mashing them together to compose a presentation of someones products or services. The outcome you might politely describe as ‘vernacular’ and while your experience might be great the impression of the business less so.

Why does that matter?

Because despite everything that we see and hear to the contrary, simply giving people software tools doesn’t make them Designers. Or artists or experts of any kind. It gives them – falsely – the impression and the result is an awful lot of screen that’s not easy on the eye.

Why’s that a problem?

Because – and especially because of the way we interact now – making a first impression has never been more critical to the currency of communications – trust. The technologies we now have allow everyone equal and direct access to individuals and their businesses and that means we have to put an awful lot of faith in place of the intermediaries that once played that brokering role. And this is especially true for small and medium-sized business and organisations where the competition is fiercest – and the temptation to fall back on ‘Distributed design’ all the greater.

Which doesn’t mean that ‘Distributed design’ as a tool for owner-operators and one-man-bands looking to make an impression, can’t work. Open-source (whether through direct access to the tool-makers tools or via the desire to show the world what you do) has fueled the progress of what we can do with the media we now freely take advantage of.
But what we need to remember is that skills are called that because they’re hard-won and while it might be unpalettable to hear it, entitlement to claim them only comes with experience and use.

Craft is not, ironically, a cut-and-paste job. It’s something that doesn’t come ‘bundled’ and to be a successful organisation means being able to clearly define what you do through how you, uniquely, look. And finding the skilled crafts-people to help you express that.

Here’s a few examples of my current picks of ‘Distributed design’ in action for the better;
http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/
http://re-foundobjects.com/shop
http://beautifultype.net/links
http://littlebigdetails.com/
http://www.theleagueofmoveabletype.com/
http://www.cardsofchange.com/

Ok, that’s enough. What’s your view?

PS. As to my site, shout-out’s to
http://www.code-sucks.com for access to great, simple css templates
http://www.fontsquirrel.com for access to great fonts and code-generator
http://www.theleagueofmoveabletype.com/ for Chunk Five and other great fonts
http://www.position-absolute.com/ for js and other tips and hints
of course, http://tympanus.net/codrops/ which got me going this morning and you, WordPress, for being able to do this!