You Can No Longer Have It Your Way

By Patrick Settle

Back in the early days of the Internet, there was a simple idea… provide the information, let the client sort out how it should be presented.

Note, I did not say displayed… presented. This opens up the information to be presented in a number of ways, beyond just being displayed on the screen. The information could be presented to the user, via braille terminal, pure text, spoken via text-to-speech software, or even printed out.

This held true for many years, but as more and more people joined the internet the original way of thought gave way to an influx of designers and others from the world of print and other visual arts. With them came amazingly beautiful designs.

However, this came at a cost, users lost the ability to look at information how they wanted to view it as the designers and developers forced their designs on them… adopting one of the worst design limitations of print and video, the unyielding static singular design.

As if handed magical paper which would allow the designer to literally be able to make the content, design, layout, colors, and themes dynamic and dependent on when, where, how, and the desire of the user… instead said, “No thanks, we prefer the static nature of the old fashion print”

To this day websites are often designed in the method of Gutenberg printing press… predesigned one-size-fits-all…

Some have jumped through loads of hoops to instead adopt a several-sizes-fits-most which makes minor layout changes depending on screen size. But at it’s root this still denies the end user control over how they want to view the data.

Designers and Web Developers do not hold the sole blame… Browser developers share in this, as each option to customize the view taken away from the end user… to “save them from themselves” reinforces this static internet.