Web design has evolved dramatically in recent years. Better browser support and innovative design techniques are changing the way we design websites. In fact, we’ve become quite versed in producing beautiful and performant user experiences. However, this doesn’t hold true for most websites out there, now does it?
How often do you stumble on slow, clunky websites? Websites where text is embedded in images and interfaces are unusable and messy — not to mention that the code is hacky and unmaintainable? Websites that are completely unusable on mobile devices and that are cumbersome to navigate?
We all deserve better than that. With this poster contest, we’d like to raise awareness of the beautiful and accessible Web:
Yes, it’s about time to redesign the Web and, hence, to redesign the world. We can make the Web a better place. But to do that, we need your help.
Where Do We Begin?
As professionals, we do our best to employ the best coding and design practices. We encourage our friends, colleagues and clients to advocate the user’s interests, and we follow recent developments in the industry. However, we probably have to do a bit more if we really want to make the Web a bit more usable. We have to remind ourselves, our colleaguesandour clients of the problems that their websites have, and potential solutions to these problems. We have to make it clear that websites require a minor adjustment or a major redesign.
All of the little tasks listed below would take just a couple of minutes each day, but if we use them consistently and stay persistent, our voices eventually will be heard.
HERE IS WHAT EACH ONE OF US CAN DO:
Create a critique email template that you can use to notify website owners about issues with their website. Then, whenever you come across a poorly designed website, just paste the template into an email and send it to the website owner. Also, if you have a minute to spare, tweet the owner directly using the hashtag #redesigntheweb to raise awareness among your friends and colleagues.
Subject: Your website is very difficult to use!
Dear [--Website Owner--],
I just stumbled on your website [--URL--] and found it very difficult to use. I wasn’t able to [-- perform a certain task / find what I was looking for --], although I am confident that your website does have this information. I would love to use your website, and I am sure you’ve put a lot of time and thought into it, but unfortunately it was more frustrating than helpful. For me, a website’s information and features must be, above all, accessible and useful. It they aren’t, then the website doesn’t serve any real purpose.
Please consider redesigning the website and improving its user experience so that I can visit it again. Otherwise, I’ll have to keep seeking alternatives.
Thank you for your time, and I hope to stumble on your (redesigned) website in the future!
Sincerely yours, . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Whenever you see a bug or dark UX pattern on a website, report the issues via the website’s contact form. Explain the issue and suggest solutions for solving the problem if you can.
Whenever you stumble upon a truly poor customer service, drop an email to the website owners explaining that you’ll seek an alternative service provider because your experience has been unacceptable. Be concrete in your criticism.
Upgrade the browser of your friend, colleague, coworker or relative to the latest version.
Propose solutions. Most owners don’t know that their website is inaccessible or slow, so help them help their users. Point them to useful templates and resources that will help them solve their problem.
Whenever you see a useful or clever design solution, send a short email to the owners applauding them for their effort and attention to detail.
If you are a designer or developer, join the Move the Web Forward campaign and help browser makers and open-source projects do just that. And, of course, recommend only best practices to students and newcomers to the industry.
Or you could also join this contest and create a poster to spread the message!
Join The Poster Design Contest!
We challenge you to design a beautiful, thought-provoking and inspiring A4/A3-sized poster and send it over to us. The poster should encourage everyone to create fast, user-friendly and accessible websites; websites that deliver value and are a pleasure to use. We will then select the most interesting designs, release them for free on Smashing Magazine, and invite everyone to republish them, print them out, post them on walls and send us photos of the posters from across the globe.
PRIZES TO WIN
As always, we have valuable prizes for the best entries. The winners of the contest will be determined by Smashing Magazine’s editorial team. Here are the prizes:
Letterpress Prints If you love letterpress posters like we do, you can select two of them from Jessica Hische’s collection or Wilkintie collection and we’ll deliver them for you. Alternatively, you can pick the ILoveTypography’s limited edition “A World Without Type” type poster.
52 Aces Card Deck A limited edition poker deck consisting of 52 extremely different cards, each of them individually designed by an international designer or illustrator in their distinct style.
Wacom Inkling Drawing Pen This pen records your sketches as you draw. Simply transfer the files to your computer and continue working on the sketches digitally. It’s a tool that every modern designer should have.
Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones According to various tests, the Bose QuietComfort 15s currently offer the best quality sound and silencing capabilities in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. If you want to focus on your work and do not get distracted by subway or cars driving nearby, that’s the headphones you probably need.
HOW DO I JOIN THE CONTEST?
To participate in the poster contest, please follow the rules listed below. Please note that we will notconsider designs that don’t meet these guidelines.
Come up with an original, beautiful and unique design. It could be an illustration, collage, photographic piece, typographic design — anything! Please make sure the design looks great when printed out, both in color and black and white.
The design should be well formatted for printing: in A4 and A3 sizes, and with a 5-mm print margin.
The design should include a small Smashing Magazine’s logo. You may also include your own logo. Please make sure both logos are readable yet unobtrusive.
Pack up your source files, preferably in a layered PSD, AI, EPS or INDD file, in a ZIP-archive, e.g.[your-name]-[submission's-title].zip would be great.
Submit your poster design by the 23rd of July 2012 to the email addresssubmissions[.at.]smashingmagazine.com, with the subject line Redesign the Web Contest.
Please also give credit where credit is due. Make sure to respect the copyright of designers whose images and words you use in your design. And feel free to submit multiple entries; however, each entry should be unique and distinguishable.
In the future, we’d love to print the best designs in a series of t-shirts (only with your permission, of course), so bear this mind when designing your work. We will feature the selected posters a week after the submission deadline. Feel free to include a link to your portfolio in your submission email; we’d love to link to it in the release post!
REDESIGN THE WEB: INSPIRATION
But what might such a poster look like? Well, we asked five well-respected designers to interpret the “Redesign the Web, Redesign the World” theme with their own ideas, creativity and style. The results are striking and inspiring, and they prove once again that cultural diversity turns every task and problem into a unique experience. These are only few interpretations of the theme — there are many more out there!
Nick La interprets the Web as an earth-like eco-system. The Web is situated in an abstract, futuristic environment, with colors and elements that convey an almost mystical atmosphere. The interpretation has a visionary quality to it and shows a touch of Jules Verne. Have you noticed how Nick managed to have both dinosaurs and tweets in one artwork?
Larissa Meek’s first poster concept is strongly geometric and bursts with color. “I wanted to capture the essence of what a more beautiful world would feel like based on the statement ‘Redesign the Web, Redesign the World,’” Larissa says. The result sure catches the eye.
Larissa Meek’s second concept shows another interesting approach, visualizing the various elements that the Web currently consists of. The poster captures techniques such as CSS and HTML, workflow elements such as storytelling and also the daily realities of the professional designer such as deadlines, coffee breaks and ideation. All elements are interconnected in a clever composition using just two main colors: red and orange.
Veerle Pieters’ cover design for the Smashing Book 3 reflects the various elements that a redesign has to balance and the various building blocks of Web. Read more about Veerle’s ideas behind the design and the process. If you would like to buy a print of the poster, please visit our Smashing Shop.
We are excited to see what you are capable of, and we sincerely believe we can all shape the future of the Web together. The poster contest is just a humble attempt to change the way things are, and it will hopefully trigger your creativity and encourage you and others to reinterpret the Web and the world through a new lens.
Good luck, everyone! We are looking forward to receiving many beautiful entries!
Yours truly, The Smashing Team
“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.” — W. E. B. DuBois