At the company I run, we develop web sites for some of our customers. And even though we do, you’ll notice that I did not write: We design web sites. I haven’t always been very clear about that difference when I discuss what I do, because I don’t think everyone will understand the fine distinction I am making. And I also don’t want us to be lumped in with the other firms who name themselves web designers.
It turns out I may have been wrong about the words I have been avoiding. Adam Greenfield has published a great essay on this topic over at A List Apart, which is always a good read. He draws a clear distinction between the disciplines of design and style. I really enjoyed the essay, and I think its worth 15 minutes of your time to read it.
The Bathing Ape Has No Clothes (and other notes on the distinction between style and design)
Let me see if I can make my point a little more concretely, so that it doesn’t begin to degenerate into mere bitter-old-fart acidity: I believe that success in design strongly implies a satisfying the requirements of a user. This is what distinguishes it from art or self-expression, and in the West, anyway, we went through several centuries of refinement to arrive at this understanding.
So it turns out, I do design and development but I am not exactly what you would call a stylist. I guess some people might even say I have no style, but I don’t think that’s true.