The design of 24 Ways has been refreshed for this festive season and it has prompted quite a varied reaction. That’s always a good sign. You might love it or you might hate it but you’re probably not ambivalent about it. Veerle has written more on this subject, provocatively asking Do you innovate or opt for the safe route in web design?
The implementation prompted as much feedback as the design itself. Clearly, 24 Ways is a site with an immovable deadline. It’s an advent calendar so it must go live on December 1st. This year, that meant that some cross-browser issues weren’t sorted out on the first day. A few days after the site launched, everything was hunky-dory but in the interim, there was a clamour of
epic fail! from indignant visitors to the site. I’m finding that Andy’s thoughts on this term of derision has become the canonical document to point people to for a healthy dose of perspective.
Merlin Mann’s observation, delivered in fewer than 140 characters, deserves to be framed and mounted next to every input device:
If you’ve ever created anything on the web—a story, a picture, a video or an application—then you’ll be familiar with the range of responses that will result. I don’t just mean the laughably mindless babblings of the Diggtards and Reddidiots; I’m referring to that peculiar effect that sitting behind a monitor has on otherwise level-headed well-adjusted people. In the same way that some people undergo a Jekyll and Hyde transformation behind the wheel of a car, computer keyboards have a tendency to bring out the fuckwad in many of us—I include myself amongst that group.
The upshot of this effect is that criticism tends to be harsher online than if it were delivered in real life, which might just be due to the lack of phatic communication. Should you find yourself on the receiving end of some criticism, having built a labour of love, I’ve put together a hierarchy of verb tenses by which you can weigh the feedback you’re receiving:
- Past. Advice from someone who has also built something is valuable. Their opinion is informed by experimental data.
- Present. If someone else is also building something, it’s worth paying attention to what they have to say.
- Conditional. This is the bottom of the pile. If someone describes what they “would” have done or what you “should” have done, it isn’t worth wasting your retinas on the photons of that feedback.
Although this hierarchy of verb tenses was prompted by web-native creations, it probably works equally well for film-making, plumbing, literature, dentistry, music, or just about any endeavour of the human spirit.