New Definition Of Design: Undesigned

January 19, 2011

Print, typography, web layout, branding, travel, architecture and online magazines are some of the topics that used to crowd my collection of design links. Not long ago, I started noticing a shift toward categories like apps, tablets, technology and social media. I started wondering: Have graphic/website designers lost their edge in this post-Web 2.0 age?

Dylan Tweney, an award-winning writer and senior editor of, published a post on The Atlantic called “The Undesigned Web” that speaks of a trend in contemporary web design, a trend that focuses on readability over aesthetics, content over design.

The iPad and other new tablets certainly put an end to ‘design’ driven websites. It is the immediacy that the readers are looking for. The iPad makes you feel like you’re holding the actual page in your hand. Compared to iPad content, traditional web layout just doesn’t look as clean.

A new generation of apps gives users the power to swipe a finger to select content. Apps like Instapaper and Flipboard render content by extracting text from an original source into its own template, so the web design is barely visible.

“Content can certainly be electronically distributed independently of design, but it can’t be presented effectively without design,” says Razorfish information architect Robert Stribley to Fast Co Design.

“The future is all about designing for multiple use cases, not saying ‘your use isn’t important anymore,’ or marginalizing design in general. … We’re not anti-immersive experiences, or anti-design–we’re just pro-accessibility,” says Timothy Meaney of Arc90, the digital consulting firm behind Readability.

From a design standpoint, I find the Fast Co Design article a bit more optimistic but weather this new innovation of design will announce a new thinking in the way digital designers work is still up for debate. The message and medium certainly aren’t as tightly fastened as they were in the days of print, but they are both as crucial as the other. “Undesigned” design is still design after all.