Opinion

Why Can’t the World’s Best Architects Build Better Web Sites?

Some of the worst offenders, according to Walker, are (left to right) Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas' OMA, Jean Nouvel, and Renzo Piano.

Writing for Fast Company, Alissa Walker sings the praise of the new architectural ”Facebook” called Architizer, but that’s not the extent of her post and she goes on to ask, “Why Can’t the World’s Best Architects Build Better Web Sites?” Good question and she offers some convincing points as to why they probably should be a whole lot better:

Architects are the original interactive designers. They’re skilled at creating navigable structures. They specialize in designing rich experiences for their users. But if architects designed their buildings the way they designed their Web sites, they’d all fall apart.

Among her gripes are an industry-wide reliance on Flash for sites that looks sleek and pretty but are slow, aren’t useful to anyone with a mobile browser, and can prove to be useless to anyone who wants to deeplink to anything — yes, there is a way to configure Flash for deeplinkage but more often than not these Flash sites are never programmed properly to allow it.

And she’s done her research:

In fact, a quick survey of the past 15 years of Pritzker Prize winners reveals that out of 13 practicing architects (two laureates have died) only Sir Norman Foster’s and Sir Richard Rogers’ sites provided easy navigation and proper URLs for each project. Something must happen to your interactive acumen when you get knighted.

Who are the worst culprits according to Walker? Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas’ OMA … and her commentary is priceless, “Two sites took a full minute to load. One had — gasp! — a pop-up window. It was so 1998!”

She continues, “And then there’s this befuddling fact: A surprising number of Pritzker laureates don’t seem to have Web sites at all. But maybe in this case, that’s a good thing.”

Sadly, the same things could be said about many artist sites and some museum websites, which sacrifice usability in favor of Flash/flash. What Walker doesn’t ask, and I would love to know, is how many of the architects she cites actually use the web (and I don’t mean email) on a regular basis. Considering the age of the architects (and probably their patrons), I’m guessing that’s a major factor.

Read the whole post here.

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