John Burnside writesJohn Burnside describes his first tentative step at Web page design...
Having worked in the computer industry once, I still find myself scanning the IT jobs pages in newspapers, just to see what's around. Force of habit, I suppose. Recently, what's been interesting is the growing demand for web page developers, people who bring with them a certain design flair and, more importantly, an ability to develop the client's web page as a corporate asset. In other words, as a medium for PR and marketing.
This is no surprise. The Internet is too obvious an opportunity for businesses to miss out on. It's no surprise, either, that presentation wins out in such developments. After all, businesses want to be seen in a good light. What is surprising, however, is how the presentation over content mentality so quickly and radically permeates one's thinking and expectations.
By now, we all know that you can't talk about the real world on television. This is because the real world is complex and subtle, while television subsists on simple, thirty second soundbites. If you want to be heard, you have to learn to talk in soundbites, or risk being cut or, worse still, misrepresented.
It needn't be so. And it needn't be so on the Internet. The trouble is, there's a danger we are all going to be "raised" to the level of the corporate image makers. Home pages that look like something from IBM. University libraries that resemble corporate sales departments. I sincerely hope we'll stop short of that.
Recently, though, I was working on a modest web page of my own. It was fun writing the basic HTML, and I thought it would be fun to develop things further. The purpose of the page is, basically, to offer a few examples of my work. Yet when I started thinking about the design, I found myself gathering obscure pictures, working out how to put together panels, adding links for the sheer hell of it and generally missing the point. It was some time before I could bring myself to discard the fancy design, and just put up a few poems.
They look okay.