Jeff White is an experienced and innovative web designer and professor based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. With a passion for social media and an eye for aesthetics, his perspective is one focused on integration, usability and – of course – super cool internet toys.
1) How are we seeing design's impact on the internet change as social media grows?
I'm planning to circuitously discuss this on Sunday. I think design has an even bigger role to play in the social web. As tools for interacting with people get more and more complex, we need good quality design and usability experts to make the process simpler, more straightforward and enjoyable. Look at the difference between MySpace and Facebook. Sure, MySpace allows for more personal expression, but you can't even read the damn thing! At least Facebook sets standards for everything that make it relatively easy to figure out what's going on. This is why it has become a tool that almost anyone can get into, no matter their age or computer experience.
2) Of the major players, which are the ones pushing the bar with design?
I really think we can all learn a great deal from Facebook. They have set standards and this creates challenges for app developers, but at the same time it shows which apps are truly pro and which are more fly-by-night. As a recent iPhone convert, I am a serious advocate for the platform. What Apple has managed to do with the iPhone OS puts every other smart phone maker to shame. I'm also really stoked on what Palm is doing with the Pre. RIM, Google and Microsoft seriously have their work cut out for them if they intend to compete on a similar usability level. They're simply not even close. I also have to say I'm blown away by the design work coming out of the Obama campaign and the recently released whitehouse.gov. If the Whitehouse is blogging, what excuse does any business have?