(jiří macek) Designblok has just launched its new website. It was created by the Symblaze team, led by its art director, Petr Knobloch, one of the best Czech web designers. Information on the website can be searched for in three different ways.
It is not necessary to introduce Petr Knobloch. However, if you still have any doubts, we can give you several hints. In the past, he has run his own graphic studio – DGÚ. Apart from that, he is known as the creator of the superb website that accompanied Ladislav Stunar’s exhibition, as well as the website for the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. Among the clients of Symblaze, we can find such renowned names such as Vodafone, Google, The Walt Disney Company, or PricewaterhouseCoopers. The website of Prague Designblok will certainly find its equal place among them.
We asked Petr Knobloch a few questions about his work…
What is the most interesting thing about the website www.designblok.cz?
Petr Knobloch: “Above all, Designblok’s new web serves as a program navigator to the visitors of Designblok. Therefore, the visitors should find it interesting that they can search information in three different ways: in the program calendar, in the list of all exhibiting artists, and finally, by clicking on areas and locations on an interactive map. All three methods of navigation are well linked together with all the information on the website. Therefore, the user should always be able to get all the necessary information. For the interactive map, we used the original Google map as a base and then created a special new layer on it for Designblok, a so-called Mashup. Thanks to this, orientation on the map should be intuitive and almost the same as on common Google maps. The specialty of our map is the layer that contains various photos and videos from different locations at Designblok. All the users of our website can upload their Designblok photos and videos into this layer by using a simple form. Consequently, the photos and videos will appear on the map in the relevant location.”
What was the most difficult thing about creating the web?
PK: “The most difficult part of every project is its beginning. It is necessary to analyze the content that should appear on the website. At the same time, you must decide how the whole website will work. It means that you need to define various types of content and the relationship among them. You need to decide how each part of the website will work, how users navigate through the pages, and how the website will be filled with new data and updated. In this initial stage, the cooperation between the submitter and the website creator is crucial. I think that this is the most difficult part of the project; at the same time, it is the most challenging.
How do you actually approach the design of web pages? In what ways is it different, for example, from the printed media?
PK: “The main difference is in the assignment of the project. For the printed media, it is usually easier (apart from some exceptions), because you can only work with the content linearly. On the other hand, when you are dealing with an interactive project, the assignment usually has more levels and more possibilities of how it can come to its final result. If we simplify it a bit, it is like creating 2D versus 3D designs. When you are creating a website, first you need to analyze the assignment; then you must choose the ideal functional model; then you can finally start to think about the form.”
The success of the web pages depends largely on the programmer. Does his/her work influence the design of the pages?
PK: “Yes. In fact, the programmer is the co-designer of the website because the choice of the technical solution determines the borders of the designer’s work. In my opinion, the form should always follow the function and should never be vice versa. I think that this is generally true for all other fields of design. For example, I can make an easy comparison with car design – if the quality of the engine is not good and if the driving properties and controls of the car are not designed optimally, then a smart design for the body does not solve anything. It remains only an aesthetic and useless object. That’s why we must see design as a complex discipline and not as a mere creation of external appearance. When designing a book, a car, or a website, we should always bear this in mind.
You created the websites www.designguide.cz and www.krehky.cz. How was your approach different in each case? Which of these two websites do you prefer and why?
PK: “The Website for Křehký, www.krehky.cz, is only a simple online catalogue of an itinerant exhibition. What might be interesting about it is how we played with sounds, linking them to each product and designer participating at the exhibition. When crossing the screen with your mouse, the website “plays” a different melody. Personally, I’m very satisfied with the website www.designguide.cz. With my colleague, designer Jakub Straka, we tried to disengage from the aesthetic aspects of the website and compose the data contained on the website in the best possible way. Once you manage to do this and are able to think more about ergonomics than aesthetic trends, then the content does some of the designing for you. Our programmers did an excellent job when programming the whole web. It’s very enjoyable to watch the website grow and swell and live its own life. New functions should be added to the website in the future. There should also be free space for videos and audios.
You’re going to participate at this year’s Designblok. What are you preparing for it?
PK: “I wouldn’t like to reveal it in advance. However, at least I can tell you that all visitors to the display stand of Symblaze will learn something about themselves. We will also tell you if you look like a typical Designblok visitor or not. Come to see us and you will find out more.”