Mix 06
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Shoulder to Shoulder

Designers design, developers develop; it's the way it should be.  Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it?  However, in the current version of the web most sites are designed by developers.  This is not always a bad thing, but largely due to the limited technological palette, most web sites look the same these days.  Most have:

  • Top, left and bottom navigation bars.
  • Content panes.
  • Search box.
  • Site map.
  • Bread crumbs.

While these elements may make for a usable and mostly intuitive interface, there is little to differentiate sites from one another.  As many brands seek this differentiation in the marketplace, this approach does not maximize the branding opportunities on the web.  Let's face it: every news site looks virtually the same: headlines, columns, advertisements, a bit of media and lots of links.  If one site takes too long to load, there are several other options available.

In the early days of the web, sites were little more than electronic billboards, populated with static links and images.  Today's media web offers so much more in the way of visual design and interactivity than was available in the last generation of the web.

With the new tools available, designers and developers can work side by side in developing user interfaces.  These tools include the new Expressions Suite which is integrated with Visual Studio 2005.  We've included sessions at MIX 06 that highlight this collaborative approach, including “Expression Web Designer Overview” and “Introducing Microsoft Tools for Professional Designers: An Overview of Microsoft Expression”.

Tool capabilities are an important addition to the technological palette. Sites that have windowed animations and interactive UIs certainly take the next step toward enabling media functions and rich interfaces.  By themselves, these tools don't speak to design.  Flash and AJAX applications are cool; they increase the palette available to designers.  Note that even with a better palette, a site can still suffer fatal design flaws, no matter how robust your tools are.

So, do the right thing.  Engage designers. Differentiate your site.  Join the conversation. Register now.

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About micoat

Michael is a Microsoft Technical Evangelist on the Strategic Solutions team. He creates business solutions using technology and works with partners to implement them.