What is good design? (Was: ruby-lang.org redesign?)


At Wed, 21 Jun 2006 01:37:03 +0900, Kyrre N. wrote:



The website is a joke to the trained eye.

Please let me workt out the question what this statement actually

Obviously to your trained eye the web site is a joke. I further
assume that other people with equally trained eyes agree with you.

Nevertheless you make two implicit assumptions:

  1. Your training did not fundamentally change your perception so that
    your perception is still representative for the majority of users
    of the site. Watching “CSI” has fundamentally changed my perception
    of reality. I often suprise people with conclusions that make them
    think of ESP.

  2. There is only one correct training and one correct concept of
    good design. I were not too sure that this is so. Once the artwork
    of Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Kandinsky, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Van
    Gogh und Marc Chagall was called “entartete Kunst” (degenerate art)
    in Germany. Nobody can imagine this nowadays, can anybody? Not only
    depends the concept of good design on time but also on culture.
    People with a Zen background tend to prefer minimalism, people with
    an islamic background tend to prefer complex patterns and people
    from China tend to prefer designs that follow the principles of
    Feng Shui. I added the last example to illustrate that the
    dependence is not necessarily on religion and that the preference
    also is not necessarily for traits obvious at first sight.

    I first became aware of this cultural dependency of preferred
    patterns while watching “the making of” of “wonderful days”, a
    Korean animation movie where the makers talk about how important it
    was for them to associate different kinds of patterns to the two
    cultures present in the movie.

I do not say that your assumptions are wrong. I only want to point out
that these assumptison are made and to raise the question if all
agree with them.

I would go even a step further and ask: Should there be one fixed
layout for all? What about having the user decide what he actually
wants? One single page can have a huge multitude of looks as can
e.g. be seen at


Besides that I support a kaizen approach to the problem i.e. not to
restart from scratch but to start with what we have and improve it
step by step.

It is of course positive that you point out the problem because that
is the necessary first step towards solving it. Anyway, without taking
actual steps to solve it (or at least suggesting them) the issue will
remain unsolved so that the only result of your contribution is

Having said this let me point out what I find the most annyoing issue
of the new design.

It is the code example.

  1. I encounter a line breaks in the code (occurs both in Firefox and
    Opera). This should not be the fact.

  2. There is a space for at least three lines after the
    final. Depending on the code that is displayed (modifying it
    permanently IMHO is not a good idea) there is a rather huge empty
    space below the last line of code.

  3. The dark blue background of the code crosses the boundary between
    the light blue background of the “Ruby is…” region and the white
    background of “The future of Ruby” and ends slightly below it. It
    results in the impression that the area at the boundary of blue and
    white is flickering. Making the area larger or smaller so that it
    either extends further into the white area or remains in the blue
    one would remove this effect.

  4. The edges. the NW and SE edge are curved while the NE and SW one
    are real edges. I think that this is the worst of all possible
    arrangements. I think that one should change the arrangement (even
    interchanging edges and curves would do). But that is only one
    possible solution. It were also possible to give the dark blue
    field a shape like a hysteresis (i.e. add opposite curves where
    edges are at the moment): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysteresis

Additional remark: “say” is the output command of REXX. This can lead
to confusion.

These were just my 2 Euro cent.

Josef ‘Jupp’ Schugt