Theory Is Awesome, But So Is Doing

24 ways is one of my favourite web design traditions. Always full of thought provoking ideas and really interesting stuff. It is billed as “24 ways to impress your friends” after all. And it certainly does!

But, I can’t help but think that the one of the most important points of this last one, Composing the new canon, gets lost in length of the article:

“Let’s not be naïve, of course; designing web pages is even less like composing music than it’s like designing for print. In visual design, the eye will always be sovereign to the ear; following these principles will only get us so far. We cannot truly claim that a carefully composed web page layout will have the same qualities and effect as any musical patterns that inform it. “

It’s such a long article, but that right there is the most important point of the entire thing. Knowing the ratio of a major 10th isn’t going to make you a better designer any more than being able to span that major 10th on a keyboard will make you a better piano player.

As interesting as these comparisons and journeys into theory are, what we make is more important than whatever rules we used to create it.

It’s human nature to over-complicate things. It’s very hard for us to keep things simple, but sometimes simple is the answer we’re looking for. A complicated process doesn’t necessarily mean a better end result.

I completely agree with the idea that we need to start being more articulate about what we do as our industry matures. Let’s keep talking about why what we do is important and looking to other disciplines for ways we can improve ourselves. These are important things for us to do!

But let’s not forget that talking about it is only one way of coming up with new ideas. Sometimes it’s better to just make something instead of talking about it. Or, as Brendan Dawes so elegantly puts it: “Talk – Action = Shit”.