“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Web Dogma – by Eric Reiss — Hmmm?

Enclosed is a copy of Eric Reiss’ Web Dogma as proposed at the IA Summit ’06 in Vancouver this past March. I’m not so sure I’m buyin’ it … Let me explain.

The Web Dogma

  1. Anything that exists only to satisfy the politics of the site owner must be eliminated [sic. internal politics]
  2. Anything that exists only to satisfy the ego of the designer must be eliminated
  3. Anything that is irrelevant within the context of the page must be eliminated
  4. Any feature or technique that reduces the visitor’s ability to navigate freely must be reworked or eliminated
  5. Any interactive object that forces the visitor to guess its meaning must be reworked or eliminated.
  6. No software, apart from teh browser itself, must be required to get the site to work correctly.
  7. Content must be readable first, printable second, and downloadable third.
  8. Usability must never be sacrificed for a style guide.
  9. No visitor must be forced to register or surrender personal data unless the site owner is unable to provide a service or complete a transaction without it.
  10. Break any of these rules sooner than do anything outright barbarous.

Why this doesn’t work

We have learned that the individuality of aesthetic style that a designer brings to their work adds real value to the overall experience and the effect on a brand’s long term appeal. Aesthetics are derived in part from a designer’s vision and ego and should not be taken out of the equation. Yes, a good designer can say that everything they do is derived from a brand or communication’s brief, but even then their personal ego and their drive for beauty and communications merge in the product.

What is a page? What is irrelevant? Not sure #3 makes a heck of a lot of sense in the Web 2.0 world. What about game play? What about decoration?

Navigating freely is a definite goal, but there are definite business processes that exist within web applications that require the user to do things they don’t necessarily want to do. I.e. fill out their credit card information, or the better example of logging in or otherwise providing credentials to authenticate an identity and free date. Having spent a good chunk of time working on a secured transactional system and other enterprise content management systems, I can say that you have to put obstacles in front a user that they don’t want to deal with. Often these are to protect users from themselves or from “bad people”. There are many other reasons to do so.

I really wish we could live without plug-ins of any type or Java or .NET or XAML or XUL or Yahoo Widgets or Flash, but the reality is that there is certain functionality that well either works better or works at all only with the support of 3rd-party help. The easiest example would be the upload of multiple files at the same time. I can’t imagine a photosharing site that would work well without some sort of plug-in system. Now I do think that Flash and PDF are ubiquitous enough that using them is like using the browser, but to take the dictum literally even these seem to be scorned upon. Now AJAX has done a lot to help the situation in terms of adding desktop like cinematic richness to “pure” web-browser-based technologies, but there are still some situations that the browser still can’t handle on its own. The other great example is the browser enhancement. I love my firefox extensions, but these aren’t used by most sites, they are just things that I add on my own.

I definitely believe in the readability concept, but this line speaks to a very 1.0 view of the web. Where is the transactional part of content? Or is that fourth? Sometimes transacting is more important than printing. Then there is also the ability to find content. Shouldn’t that come before readable–findable? Then, sometimes printing and downloading is against the rules of the system as they go against the policies for security and content protection; DRM is here to say. Lastly, sometimes content is not meant to be read. It is audio, video, or other form of media where reading is secondary to using other parts of our intellilect.

I have no comment on the last few items. I’d be interested in Eric saying what the last line is for anyway. I don’t understand it.

Well, every since I saw this on the bulletin board at the Summit I have been meaning to comment on it. I hope Eric finds his way here and helps to explain further his intention with the dogma.

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  • http://www.fatdux.com Eric Reiss

    Actually, I did find my way, Dave, and provided comments over two years ago. What a shame these didn’t make the move along with your post. Perhaps you could republish them, too.


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