Christopher Schmitt

designer, web developer, author, strategist, dreamer

Working with the web since 1993, Christopher Schmitt directs, Inc., a small new media publishing and design firm. The author of several books, including CSS Cookbook and Photoshop in 10 Simple Steps or Less, Schmitt is also a contributor to many web development magazines.


An Event Apart: Understanding Web Design

8 years ago

The first talk of An Event Apart in Boston was delivered by Jeffrey Zeldman. He talked about the difficulties of our profession and the lack of respect we receive since the dot-com bust days.

  • Zeldman asks for a moment of silence for George Carlin, who passed away the night before.
  • Jeffrey talks about what Web designers need, asks for laugh
  • Empathy. “If you look it up a dictionary…”
  • Puts forward example of bad web sites
      • Has two competing goals for the site, which makes it hard for a single message to get out.
      • Link colors don’t have to be blue and underlined
    • ConsumerSearch
      • Site contains great articles on consumer product research
      • however, Web site is hard to use.
      • “No one figured out how to make the front page sexy.”
      • Figure out what content is important to the consumer and make them want to click that link.
      • Recommends guerrilla, cheap user testing. [Ed. note— See Steve Krug.]
    • Failure of Empathy to get yourself into the mind of the user
  • “The unmotivated need not apply.”
    • Main education courses come from product/software companies that build Web-related products.
    • “Teaching Excel is not the same as teaching business.”
    • They don’t teach you strategy in Web design courses, but they will teach you the software. [Ed. note—This is so true.]
  • You have to keep on learning.
    • Worked on creating Web design survey since they wanted facts on our profession
    • 33,000 all over the world took the survey.
    • Education is mostly relevant 53%
      • The more money you make, the less your college education matters.
      • Project managers need the less educatin’
  • Web designer
    • Gets no respect
    • It’s disturbing that in a profession that demands so much knowledge and skillsets, that we don’t get respect
    • One reason is there isn’t respect is because there isn’t a standardized title
    • Different kinds of organizations, have different breakdown of
  • Who owns the Website?
    • The Web site IA should not be reflective of org charts
    • [Ed. note—Lawyer joke warning.] Lawyers spend a lot of time on work on communication. So naturally they should be in charge of the Web site.
    • “Creative people are at work, but are being beaten down.”
  • Web designers don’t get paid very well.
    • A lot of people are making 20k
    • Women who think there is bias against women in the industry, you do better.
  • In Search of Excellence
    • “They take people who have achieved.”
    • Communication Arts is about graphic design, not about usability, not about Web design
    • This particular Web design is graphic design intesnive,
    • Journalism talks about real estate not architecure–who ever is making the most money.
  • We have to avoid “guitar solo” approach
    • Forget the showing off, but focus on the empathy of the clients.
  • “Empathetic Web Design”
    • Sounds better than “User Center Design”
    • Used more and more around Zeldman’s studio in talking about what they do and how they differentiate themselves from other shops

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Designing Web & Mobile Graphics

by Christopher Schmitt

New Riders, 2013