Wine and Design Me

You’re at dinner, and you order a steak. Looking at the wine list, you don’t recognize any of the reds. Panicking, you say to a passing busboy, “what wine do I choose?” He looks at you confused, so you ask the diners at the next table, “what of these goes with the steak?” Again, confusion.

You could go on, asking anyone and everyone for their advice about wine pairings, but you’d have much more success asking the waiter herself: she recommends a great wine, dinner solved.

As absurd as this situation sounds, an equivalent scene plays out in the design world nearly every minute of every day. Let’s say a small business needs a website. Rather than asking for professional help, they get the intern to throw together a simple site.

This can work. It can get you a website. But that’s about all it will get you, as much as a steak dinner paired with milk will get you full. But people don’t pair steak with milk at a nice restaurant because, well, that would be weird—but also wasteful of a great food experience.

The real tragedy is that we see great sites all the time that completely forget how to pair a site’s details with its broader design. One of the most important (and often overlooked) functions of a usable website is good typographic hierarchy. Let’s be honest, the most important content on your site is most likely text based, and this text needs to be easily scannable in order for the user to process your information.

If you are serving a big juicy steak of a headline, you will want to contrast it with a lighter and smaller typeface for your body copy. Too much contrast, however, can make these same elements seem disconnected. You wouldn’t serve white wine with your steak!

The point is, anyone can make a website. Busboys, interns, whoever. The difference is in how you pair those elements with one another, letting the eye move easily over a page and highlighting exactly what’s important and nothing more.

People are finicky. We’re finicky diners and we’re finicky on the Internet. In fact, most of us are as ignorant to usability as we are to the food on our plate. Luckily, we can take care of you. But don’t consider us just a waiter—we prefer to be thought of as sommeliers of design. We do love our wine, but we’re much more knowledgeable when it comes to design.