Web Directions Conferences for web and digital professionals

A dao of web design turns 10

A decade ago, I wrote an article “A Dao of Web Design” that the then youngish A List Apart published apparently exactly 10 years ago today.

At the time, I practiced a lot of Tai Chi (which is closely associated with the philosophy of Daoism) (sadly, I do so much less now), and the Tao Te Ching was very influential on my thinking (it still is, though perhaps less directly), and the central concept of the Tao Te Ching, that the way of the universe is fluid and adaptable, not fixed and rigid occurred to me as a perfect philosophy of designing for the web.

At the time, the common complaint about the web as a medium is that designers had less control over their design than with many other media (screen sizes and color depths varied, users could change the size of the window, or text, all impacting a lovingly crafted design). To me, this loss of control (and consequent gain of control by the user) seemed a feature, not a bug, of the medium.

Much has changed in that decade, in the world, in my life, and on the web. But I feel the underlying idea still holds up very well.
I’ve long since meant to revisit the article, and perhaps will get the chance one day, but for now, it will need to stand on its own two feet a little longer.

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