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Damn my Britishness

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

Last week Brendan Dawes posted about the UK design scene and caused a rather heated debate. I was in total agreement with what he had written, but certain comments about positive noise rang true. Is it simply the way we communicate doesn’t allow us to feel as if we can give negative comments, or is it our own view of ‘if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all’.

This week a website was launched, it was mentioned on twitter and gained a few congratulations. Personally I didn’t get it, the design seemed too simplistic, certain elements of cross browser compatibility didn’t seem well considered and I thought the redesign was no great improvement on the previous iteration. In my opinion the site also looked as if it was designed in the browser, something that is gaining a lot of positive promotion on the web. In my opinion it’s since web designers have been working this way I’ve seen a lack of creativity in some instances, but this is a completely different argument.

There’s two things to highlight here, first I made no comment about the site on Twitter, 140 characters left no room for a considered opinion. Neither have I mentioned the site I’m talking about above, and would not unless talking to people one on one. It’s possible that given a post about the design in question, from the creator(s) I may be tempted to give my view, but even here I would try to formulate a balanced view, stating elements I liked and disliked and reinforcing that this is my personal opinion which could be in the minority.

This inability to complain or upset people is a well known British trait that was been carried into the web design community. If people do complain they usually hide behind a fake name; something I find rather immature. The problem is that we all know it can hurt to have ourselves or our work spoken about in a negative way, so we try to limit doing that to other people in the hope others would treat us with the same courtesy. Unfortunately this could be damaging our ability to learn and improve, having praise constantly pilled on us instead of being told that’s shit try again.

I’d like to see more balanced responses when people comment on a new design, rather than write simply ‘Awesome site, love it’, why not add to that one piece of criticism, surely no site is perfect. Take for example Simon Collison’s new design which was mentioned via comments in Brendan’s post. I did really like that site, and commented as such but I also made mention to a problem with the Tab+B function described in the footer. It was probably an oversight but rather than say nothing I added it to my comment in the hope it would be fixed.

In this way we get the positive feedback we crave while being fed information that helps us improve not only the site in question but also our work in the future.