There is a festival occurring next month – a festival of design, in London. And they have a huge number of events happening.

So I let my fingers walk over to their website to scour down the events to see if any would be added to my events guide, or if there are so many jewels that I might write a blog post instead.

I am writing a blog post, but not because there are jewels in there – which there might be – but because I can’t work out what is going on in a sensible and swift manner.

Over 200 events they say – so they set the All Events option to show just 8 events per page. That’s 35 pages to laboriously wade through.

I might sigh, but get on with it – if only the pages contained valuable information. This is a random example – page 26.

What each listing comprises of is a picture of occasionally useful intent, but often just a brandname, with a headline and an address/datetime.

The only way to know what is actually happening is to click on each event in turn and read the text therein, and I am sorry but there is NO way that I am inclined to read over 200 pages of often cryptic art and media speak just to find out what is happening.

Translating all that art-lingo into Plain English will give me a headache.

Sorry to have picked on the Design Festival, as they are not the only festival with a website designed to conceal rather than enlighten, but theirs happened to be the one I came across that was particularly irksome.

At a time of constrained financial resources, it is ever more important that art and festivals reach out to the general public in order to preserve their funding, but they also have to learn to speak in PLAIN ENGLISH and build websites that don’t seek to replicate a digital haystack in which they can hide proverbial needles.

Most of the events are free, and some of them might be quite good. It’s just a pity that the website is so appallingly bad.

Update 2016: Nothing changes

2018, and nope, still no better


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  1. I absolutely agree. There are far too many events and festivals which think this sort of top-down concealment is good website design. I bet it reduces audiences too, because potential spectators never notice the events they’d actually have been interested in attending. Website design should be about so much more than how pretty the information looks, or how cheaply a database-driven solution can be generated.

  2. Adrian says:

    I completely agree too. I know from experience that as obvious as “write it in Plain English” sounds, there are lots in the design, curator, art, media world who just don’t get it.

    Another example of a shocking website was that for the CREATE London festival; the 2012 Open Weekend was pretty poor too.

  3. Anna says:

    I thought the same thing last year! I got so frustrated with trying to find something I wanted to go to that I decided to flag it didn’t go to anything. How is it possible for a design festival to create such an non-functional, unreadable and unfriendly website?

  4. swirlythingy says:

    Speaking of web design, I like your new front page – a definite improvement!

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