Sunday, June 08, 2008

12th Webby awards announced - beauty remains in the mind of the beholder

The Webby Awards are beginning to resemble the Oscars in their level of hype.

However as the most prestigious global award for digital media I can excuse them the need to make their mark alongside the older media awards.

The Government winner this year was the Peace Corps for their teen site.

It's an attractive marketing site, with a consistently strong theme and subtle interactivity.

The People's Voice Winner in the category was the Transport for London site.

While not as pretty, this is significantly more functional as a 'working' site designed to deliver services day in, day out.

The two sites are excellent examples of the pressures in the online world - stunning visual design (form) or clear consistent functionality.

Humans as a species react strongly to design - take our ongoing love affair with fashion or architecture for example.

This isn't limited to the physical world - beauty is in the eye and mind of the beholder. Our thoughts and, particularly, our feelings, colour how we respond to any digital product.

Of course design must also be useable - but isn't that one of the qualities of good design?

Government has some legislative considerations to ensure websites are usable and accessible, which often appear to bias us us towards focusing on function at the expense of form.

However as online communications we must keep in mind that form, the visual and interactive design, is equally important in winning the hearts, minds and ongoing use of citizens.

We have photogenic politicians, can we please have more attractive government websites?

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