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Discussion on: Case against premade CSS frameworks (and Design systems)

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dmerand profile image
Donald Merand

What do you think about the idea that having visual consistency reduces cognitive dissonance in non-technical users, allowing them to focus on your content instead of the mechanics of navigating your app?

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vlasterx profile image
Vladimir Jovanović Author • Edited on

Maybe you misunderstood the point of this article.

I am in favor of creating your own design systems and frameworks with your own design style, instead of recycling visually identical solutions that everyone is using.

Again, this article is intended for professionals, not for end users who have no idea what design system or frameworks are. Professional web/ui designers and front-end developers are in charge of creating those new solutions. No one else.

Maybe I misunderstood you - are you proposing that everyone should use the same design in order to reduce cognitive load?

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drrial profile image
d3rrila

I think they mean to crank down the individualism a little, so as to not confuse less tech-savvy users. On one page the menu is at the top, on the other its on the bottom right, then on the next one its bouncing around on the website, one has a menu you navigate with clicks, one has a menu you can navigate with hovers, then colors have different meanings, on some pages buttons aren't even highlighted from the background, so people who're unaware don't even know they can be clicked, etc.

Sure, every website being cookie-cutter copies would also be bad, but I could let my Grandparents use the computer without being called every 20 seconds to explain how this or that website work. Some broad consistency across the web isn't all that bad.

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vlasterx profile image
Vladimir Jovanović Author

Why did you get the impression that only people at Google or at Bootstrap are smart enough to create and develop a design system? That is a job description for all web/ui designers. If web designers don't know how to do that, then they are not web designers, correct?

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drrial profile image
d3rrila

I didn't. I'm pointing out that everyone doing their own things muddies the waters, tho. Just because they can develop a design system, doesn't mean that design system is something people will respond to. Just look at Snapchat.

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dmerand profile image
Donald Merand

It looks like @drrial did a great job addressing my original point - if you needlessly reinvent the wheel to justify your existence, people expecting a wheel will be frustrated.

I definitely agree that brands need to look like themselves. If your organization is being mistaken for Google because you look just like them, you've got a lot of problems.

It sounds like you're trying to leverage ^ that idea (which is perfectly reasonable and almost nobody would argue) as weight behind a less universal idea: that design frameworks aren't really useful for "real designers".

To draw a parallel with coding, I'm not going to re-implement bubble sort every time I need to sort an array. I'm not (always) going to invent a new web framework like Rails or Django when it's time to make apps for the web. Yes, it's our job to write code, and yes, we can do those things, but those aren't always the problems we're trying to solve. Not all of us need to be Massimo Vignelli inventing the NYC Metro design framework. It reads a bit like you're advocating throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

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vlasterx profile image
Vladimir Jovanović Author

You are within your rights to agree with me or not, I won't even try to change your mind. Now I see that you are speaking from dev perspective.

For me, same design all over the Internet represents a problem. Google's material design was excellent when it appeared, same as Flat design before and Twitter Bootstrap design before that. They all brought something new to the table and people loved it, but... BUT if you think that reusing those design systems today is a good thing, than that is a problem for which you are not aware of.

And it shows, because you think that this is just a technical issue. It's not. Half of the problem is design/art related. When almost every design today is normalized to those designed styles and frameworks, then nothing is really unique, beautiful and new. Changing variables in Bootstrap is not really design. That is basic styling.

Throughout the art history there were different art movements that were dominant at some point, but that point has passed and something new replaced it. My goal was to point out to everyone that using same templates will get them nowhere, especially if they are in web/ui and UX design professions.

But who knows, maybe I expect too much from people.

p.s. When it comes to Material design especially, that system is made especially for Google. They give it to everyone because it spreads brand awareness for Google, not your own brand. No matter what you do with it, people will always see Google behind it.

This is digital equivalent of a promotional shirt with a company logo that you get for free. You may wear it to the gym, but you would certainly not wear it to a jet-set cocktail party or a wedding. Unless you are a dork ;)