Here’s a little thought experiment for you. What if, in the early days of the Web, it became a uniform, standard practice for websites to include metadata about their designers? Here’s one way it might have looked:
The designer’s name wouldn’t be visible on the site, but would be accessible to anybody who knew how to click ‘View Source’ in their browser. The most natural analogy that I can think of is tags on clothing. You can always ‘view source’ by flipping up someone’s tag to see if their shirt came from Mexx or Tommy Hilfiger.
I still occasionally see a design credit in the footer of a site, or in the CSS file, but it’s the exception, not the rule.
How would the world of web design be different? Here are my initial thoughts:
- It would be incredibly useful for web designers for word of mouth promotion. If I see a site I like, I can find out who built it, and contact them to build my site.
- There would be a greater general awareness of boutique designers, much the way there are boutique ad agencies today. There would be a certain cache for a company to be able to publicly advertise that their site was by, I don’t know, Jeffrey Zeldman. In short, more people might know who Jeffrey Zeldman is.
- It might change the business of web design a little. Companies might hire more designers in-house, because they’re reluctant to admit that they outsourced the work. Or it might have made outsourcing the work all the more common.
- The average web design would be a little better, and less cookie-cutter. If a designer puts their name on every site, they might be reluctant to use the same wire frames over and over again.
- People could build cool tools and browser plug-ins to, for example, generate an ad hoc portfolio of all the sites by a particular designer.
I’m a mere hack of a web designer, and I only built my first site back in 1999. I wonder if this practice was more common in the early days of the web, and went the way of all time?
How do you think designer labels would impact the world of web design?