Though most Web innovations have been the product of tenacious engineers (think eBay, Google, Yahoo!, etc.), it’s great to know that designers are able to play an increasing role in the Web 2.0 open source idea factory that is rapidly reshaping cyberspace.
A great example is Joe Gregorio’s sparkline generator that automatically renders Edward Tufte’s data intense, simple, word-sized graphics (a.k.a. sparklines). Tufte put the sparklines concept on his site and Joe created a system “for interactively designing them, a web service you can use to add them to your own site, and the source code to the web service.”
For my part, I’m always very flattered when ideas I publish on Functioning Form are absorbed by the Web community:
- Blog Continuum Sparklines This application of Tufte’s sparkline concept trigged a Flash developer challenge to implement the concept.
- Web Application Form Design Edward Hew released an open source code module that generates Web forms. The design was “very much influenced by” the principles outlined in the article.
- Comparison Shopping Page Writes Carlo Zottmann’s BetterShopper “will look up the prices of the currently displayed Amazon product in over a dozen stores across the Web, and then it'll display those (in multiple currencies) in a neat little box right there on your current page.” As Carlo graciously let me know the FF entry “was the proverbial kick that made him finally start working” on BetterShopper.
I’d like to believe this type of virtual idea sharing and occasional implementation will be an increasing part of what Wired magazine has dubbed “Remix Planet”. After all, developers can’t have all the fun.
“isn't it curious how many of the applications and ideas getting the most buzz right now are coming from fertile collaborations between designers and developers? In addition to basecamp, there's Flickr, conceived by designers Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake. And who put their finger on AJAX, the meme of the moment, but web design firm Adaptive Path. Are designers the new heroes of the computer industry?” - Designing from the outside in