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Net speed restrictions - take care

In the wild and wacky world of architectural websites you are soon aware of a great truth: architects aren't trained as graphic designers. It is odd that, because, although architects would immediately shop any graphic designer who styled themselves as an architect, a surprising number of architects do not see it the other way round. And when that attitude gets translated into website design 'Aaaargh' is the nicest thing I can say.

It's not that all graphic designers can design websites, any more than all architects are fit to design buildings but at least the former has had a few clues imparted at art school about the way people perceive things. Nothing is straightforward. Have a look at Sheppard Robson's site. See www.sheppardrobson.com.

Professionally designed with really good layouts, it would be close to perfection if it weren't so slow. I've had the advantage of seeing the CDwhich is fast - interactive in the best sense.

Trouble is, the practice has simply loaded the CD on to its virgin website and hoped that it would work the same.

It does not. It's slow. And, with web navigation attention spans dropping to 15 seconds, slow means 'I'm outta here'.

There is another truth: designer doesn't mean graphic designer. The inflatable products design team Inflate seem to do very interesting inflatable structures. Today I was researching for a book on structures and it sounded just the ticket at www. inflate. co. uk.But, yawn, its site was so incredibly slow and unintuitive that I gave up.

You think I am being boring about this but for anybody who spends more than half an hour on the web in search of real information as opposed to surfing for fun, speed is a major issue. Earlier this year companies were forking out tens of thousands of pounds to listen to a visiting web design guru.His message was speed, speed, speed. Rapidly downloaded text instead of slow images. Simplicity, clarity and speed.

Sutherland Lyall, lyall@dircon.co.uk

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