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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Law of Diminishing Redesigns

On tap over at Bugs & Cranks, though a bit less timely now that the game has started:

Clash of the Titans: It’s Smoltz. It’s Glavine. It’s April. Cue the ‘epic battle’ music.

And now, back to the irregularly scheduled program.

For the first time in quite a while, I’ve been tasked at work with building a ‘proper’ website. Most of the programming work I’ve done over the years has been for intranet applications. For the most part, that means that as long as the thing works properly, it can look a little ugly. Or a lot ugly, for that matter. A fair number of my systems have started life in ‘four white walls and a naked light bulb’ mode. And when I could get away with it, they stayed that way.

“I’ve got no eye for color, limited knowledge about proper composition, and the mad Photoshop skillz of a lobotomized arthritic moose.”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate aestetics and beauty, mind you. It’s just that I’m no good at creating them. I’ve got no eye for color, limited knowledge about proper composition, and the mad Photoshop skillz of a lobotomized arthritic moose.

Luckily, it doesn’t usually matter.

Only, unluckily, this time it does.

Of course, as usual I have help. Lots and lots and lots of help. There are at least a half dozen people who could — and therefore will — have strong, loud, and no doubt mutually exclusive opinions about how the site should look. Which leads me to remember the first principle of designing public web sites, The Law of Diminishing Redesigns:

  • 75% of the work will be done in the first 10% of the available time.
  • 90% of the work will be done in the first 50% of the available time.
  • 95% of the work will be done in 100% of the available time.
  • The remaining 5% of the work — which will include such supremely critical topics as the verbiage of the copyright notice, the thickness of the border around the menu bar, and whether ‘Back’ or ‘Return’ is less confusing to non-web-savvy users — will be completed on a schedule calculated by multiplying the total available project time by the number of people assisting in the design, plus or minus six months.

In this case, we need something to demo by the end of the month, and an active site a couple of weeks later. The structure is relatively simple, so it should be no problem to post a perfectly reasonable, attractive, and informative site in that time frame.

On the other hand, project ‘completion‘ should occur by — lessee, carry the four, three times nine is twenty-seven, add six weeks for debating the color of the logo, and… we should just be able to squeeze it in by June. Two thousand and twelve. If we hire the graphics designer now. Chop chop.

Nah, I kid. These are all reasonable people, and the site’s just a small part of what I’m supposed to be doing. It couldn’t possibly turn into a ‘thing’, right?


Dammit. Can I go back to intranet stuff now? Some of us just weren’t meant to make pretty things.

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