Simplicity

Let form follow function, says web designer Steve Leggat. Less is more.

As far as web designer Steve Leggat is concerned, function is the driver when it comes to designing for the web. His philosophy? Well there isn’t one really, except keeping the site as simple and navigation-friendly as possible.

“I don’t see the point of designing a site that’s good to look at but confusing and complicated to use,” he says, and reckons it’s showing off.

The largely self-taught Aucklander has always been interested in computers as an animation tool and how principles of design can be interpreted through their use.

“I’ve been into computers for 20 years now, since I was 11. I remember using the paint program on my Commodore 64 and Amiga.”

Some short graphic-design courses, ditto with desktop publishing, work in the animation industry and an abiding enthusiasm for the medium have honed his skills considerably since then. This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Respected design site WebReference.com lists several of his sites, such as www.x-e-n.com, as examples of good design. “Steve really understands navigation and it shows in every site.”

www.x-e-n.com is one of Leggat’s favourite sites, reflecting his interest in the skateboarding genre and youth culture. “I’m really into in the techno style, the dance scene and the culture coming from the English kids.”

Locally, Leggat’s profile rose considerably when he designed food magazine Cuisine’s first website, and the award-winning site www.primeminister.govt.nz. Both are rich in information and could have been difficult to navigate given the wrong design. Leggat displays his prowess by creating user-friendly yet attractive and functional sites that serve their respective audiences well.

Simplicity most commonly marks Leggat’s sites, and could be called his signature design feature. With an ultra-modern look and feel, he also exhibits a restraint that contrasts with his often bold use of colour. His design appears innately classical rather than trendy and faddish. He believes because the web is global, the design language through which he communicates must be global too.

"Someone in China might be looking at one of my sites so they should be able to understand the concept of it, if not the language in which it’s written. I get a lot of inquiries from overseas because they appreciate the crisp, clear qualities of my designs."

Leggat recently merged his own company, Flipdesign, into Styrofirm, which is based in the heart of Auckland’s fashion precinct Vulcan Lane. As we chat over coffee, I reflect this must be an inspiring place to work.

“Noisy,” he replies. Ever the pragmatist.

Steve’s top five

www.factory512.com - FACTORY512

This site by Russian designer Dmitri Utkin is simply massive and mind numbing. Not only does it feature his great works, but also the collaborative and individual works of respected designers. When you're tired of that, there are links galore.

www.volumeone.com - VOLUME ONE

Sweet experimental Flash stuff here from Matt Owens and the crew behind

volumeone.

www.k10k.com - KALIBER10000

The newest design links, news, features and lots of other cool stuff. Pixel perfect and updated every few hours.

www.hillmancurtis.com — Hillman Curtis Inc.

Long regarded as Grandmaster Flash, Hillman Curtis has taken Macromedia's baby and successfully brought fresh, TVC style/cinematic media to the web. Check out the Simple Simon narrative — I love it! And hey, they've just redesigned their website too.

www.gizma.com - SHIPTERGIZEM

A playground for innovative designer Nic Mulvaney. There are plenty of young designers making a mark out there and Nic is one of them. He just turned 19.

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Fiona Mayo

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