Archive for June, 2009

What’s missing? Graphic design.

kindleI admit it; I’m intrigued by the Kindle, Amazon’s large-screen electronic reader. With it, you can download books for cheap, have newspapers delivered electronically, and have all your reading gathered and organized in one handy digital device.

Friends I’ve asked have said they’re not at all ready to give up carrying around their paperbacks and print versions of their newspaper. But I believe these are simply familiar habits that we all ultimately will break.

But a post today on Slate.com raised a drawback of the Kindle I had not considered.

The Kindle, Farhad Manjoo writes, is “missing what makes print newspapers such a perfect delivery vehicle for news: graphic design. The Kindle presents news as a list … It’s your job to guess, from the list, which pieces to read. This turns out to be a terrible way to navigate the news.”

I think the parallels to our marketing and branding work are apparent. In our quest to provide our audience with all the interactive tools they could ever want, we sometimes forget to use our design tools to help guide their selections.

“Every newspaper you’ve ever read was put together by someone with an opinion about which of the day’s stories was most important,” Manjoo writes. “Newspapers convey these opinions through universal, easy-to-understand design conventions—they put important stories on front pages, with the most important ones going higher on the page and getting more space and bigger headlines.”

“You can pick up any page of the paper and—just by reading headlines, subheads, and photo captions—quickly get the gist of several news items. Even when you do choose to read a story, you don’t have to read the whole thing. Since it takes no time to switch from one story to another, you can read just a few paragraphs and then go on to something else.”

Keep the Kindle’s drawbacks in mind the next time you approach web design.

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Robert Hyndman

can be reached at his Laguna Beach studio, 949.497.3179, or by using the form on the Contact Me page.
June 2009
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