I think it would be good to start this entry off with a summary of why people think Big on the web is a good thing. Big in this sense relates to big font sizes, big buttons, big forms and other big things on a website. This message has been brought to you by Garrett Dimon.
Big is simple. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s friendly. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s practical. Big is easy to click. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to read. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s focused. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s direct and too the point. It forces you to make tough decisions with your real estate leading to more signal and less noise. Bigger is better. (Yes, there are exceptions.)
Yesterday when I wrote about the new Odeo redesign I questioned whether less always equals simple and in the following discussion it seems that many of you agreed that just because you do less of something, that doesn’t make it easier. I believe the same goes with big. While big does help you focus more on how to more efficiently use your screen realestate I have to feel a bit worried as to why any designer or IA would ever stop worrying about that in the first place. Do you really need Big to force you into that mode of thinking?
Odeo obviously showed some concern for screen real estate and they did so at the expense of getting enough information across on their site to actually make it valuable. If you don’t really have anything to say and feel that certain big items can convey your message then by all means go for it, but getting your idea across effectively and efficiently doesn’t necessarily mean doing it bigger.
Potentially stupid question, but if Big is so great why do we all want monitors with higher resolutions? So we can make those Word documents bigger or because we wish to fit more stuff on the screen? Maybe it’s both.
This is something I’ve noticed with quite a few Web 2.0 ventures recently. I’m all for cleaning up, stripping down, and otherwise simplifying the user-experience, but how does that translate to making things bigger? Nothing about this contact form is simpler than others like it. If anything, it makes me wish I was far-sighted.
It’s kind of insulting. It’s like when people talk louder to someone who doesn’t speak the local native language, hoping that the increased volume will improve understanding. To the contrary, using this giant form just makes me feel stupid. Odea apparently thinks I’m an idiot, and making the registration form really big will help me wrap my little brain around how to use it.
If everything is big how does anything stand out?
In January something new is coming from the 9rules crew and you will find the design goes back to the way I like things. Simple. Clean. Clear. I love the 9rules homepage and the Fine Fools designs, but my tendencies lean towards Whitespace and Business Logs designs. On the new 9rules pages there is one element on one page that stands out and everything else is there to complement it.
If you believe that everything must be big because everything needs to be noticed, you might as well make everything small so at least you can save some bandwidth. It will have the same effect anyways.
To summarize, big is good in portions as it always has been since the beginning of design. Thinking that making everything big makes things easier is silly just the same as thinking that making everything small saves the person the trouble of having to move their eyes across the screen. Recognizing a trend and taking portions of it to work in your own designs is a great thing. Seeing a trend and applying it to everything you do might not be the best of ideas.