don't screw up, don't screw up.

Well how annoying, Nicola’s blog has only been up five seconds and she’s already getting more traffic than me! Must be the styling. And it’s funnier! I particularly liked the piece on America’s dumbest quiz show contestant (image above).

Well speaking of daftness, New Media Age reports today that agency DNA is looking to move further into the web 2.0 by appointing former head of interface as a creative director (pay walled). 

Clearly what the original press release is trying to say is two fold:

  1. that usability is as important as creativity
  2. that DNA is a really “web 2.0” agency

OK, so (1) usability is as important as creativity: Are they really bragging that they’ve just recognised this today – ten years in? Are they saying to their clients ‘Up to now we just used to give your customers a load of nice-looking stuff that didn’t work and they couldn’t use but was very creative. That’s about to change’. And the fact that ‘creative director’ is given almost as an honorary title but one which doesn’t require any skills is not exactly flattering to anyone, but does indicate who wears the pants in that family. Why don’t they promote a creative person to head of usability!!

(2) The implication is that Web2.0 is about how you do presentation layer, that by making changes to and adding features to a front-end you can improve usability and engagement. This is where we really lose touch (“I’m going to have to go with my instincts… is it Elephant?”).

Let’s not forget that the best interfaces are invisible and utility is not a product of implementation. Ajax and other “2.0” front end styling conventions and interfaces are obviously not solutions in themselves, they are techniques used in solving user problems. You can have a competely unusable site jammed full of 2.0 techniques and a fully usable site without one in sight (erm… Google anyone).

I agree that there is a polarisation amongst agencies: technically good ones and creative ones. But this sort of tokenism and knee-jerk reaction serves to highlight the problems not solve them.