22 comments

  • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 3 years ago

    Instrument, as usual, have produced some aesthetically beautiful work – but the homepage is two slow-loading carousels with minimal affordance and a hamburger menu.

    It's the epitome of form over function.

    9 points
    • Mike Wilson, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      I think you guys are missing what the true audience and purpose of this website is. This is not an interface that regular users (ie. your grandma) will be accessing to help make their lives more efficient or to complete a task. This is not a digital product, service, app, or tool.

      Designer News treats every site like it's an online banking interface. Since we have a lot of people here who spend 40+ hours a week thinking exclusively about digital products, we mistakenly think every site should be judged by the same parameters/goals we have at work.

      This is a sizzle reel. A branding piece for the agency. These guys work predominantly on marketing sites for youthful brands like Nike and Levi. If their site wasn't super aesthetically stylized and visual-heavy, what would that say to the 28 year old fashion-obsessed yuppie working on Nike's marketing team?

      27 points
      • Tom WoodTom Wood, over 3 years ago

        So much this.

        You have to design a site for your audience – and this comment absolutely hits the nail on the head.

        If we designed every site with the same needs in mind we would end up with even more ubiquity. You need to allow for these pattern-interrupts, it's what makes it exciting.

        5 points
        • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

          You need to allow for these pattern-interrupts, it's what makes it exciting.

          Absolutely, I wholeheartedly agree! Many of my very favourite sites are more abstract/experimental and require you to play with the interface to learn the site.

          However a loading screen for a couple of carousels and a hamburger menu isn't that radical to me.

          ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          0 points
      • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

        The insinuation here is that if you criticise a page for being nothing more than two poorly designed carousels and an unlabelled hamburger menu, then you must want something as complex as an "online banking interface".

        That's absurd. There's a huge gradient in terms of complexity between these two things. I would even argue that Instrument's homepage has been made more complex than it needs to be in terms of interactions by hiding content behind a menu and carousels – all in the pursuit of form.

        Here are some specific shortcomings that should be addressed regardless of the site's audience:

        • On our ultra-fast fiber connection, it takes (at best) 1.2 minutes to freshly load from start to finish. At worst, it took over two minutes. That's for 4 pictures and a few sentences, and you can't do anything (thanks to the completely static loading screen) until the entire page has loaded in.

        • It's an established fact that carousels are a terrible way to navigate through content. Why not just arrange these blocks vertically?

        • Leaving all arguments about how bad hamburger menus are to one side (but note, it's not just about recognisability), the "Work", "Studio" and "Careers" sections are all referenced from the homepage anyway – so why hide the navigation for any other reason than "it looks nice"? It's purely for form.

        • They've hidden your browser's scrollbar. Seriously. If that's not form over function, I don't know what is ;)

        • There is zero copy on the homepage explaining who Instrument are, and no obvious link to find out. Referrals happen in the design world all the time, and those who are referred but don't know absolutely everything about the agency may read the first slide and think they're part of Google.

        • The only way to manually control the advance of the carousel is to click the current slide, which has zero affordance (versus real controls) and runs contrary to the user expectation for that action to select the current slide.

        • It's built on Squarspace, which is the root of some of these problems. It also poses an interesting existential question for a digital agency that makes websites.

        And I say this as someone who loves Instrument and think the aesthetic of this site is simply fantastic. But as I've noted, it's been designed with "form" in mind first, and "function" second.

        1 point
        • Thomas OsmonsonThomas Osmonson, over 3 years ago

          I think you should check your internet. I'm on shitty century link 20mbit/s and the site loaded in about 7 seconds. (albeit that's slow by today's standards) I highly doubt that it took 1.2 MINUTES to load, especially on fiber.

          0 points
          • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 3 years ago

            Thanks for the heads up. Our internet is industrial-strength and I was measuring load-time in Chrome's network tab – not timing it myself.

            It's loading in 8 seconds now though so it most likely was a problem with Squarespace. This is why unnecessary loading screens are a bad thing – it's possible 95% of the assets had loaded within the first few seconds, however I was completely blocked from progressing until the 1/2 minute marks.

            0 points
        • Mike Wilson, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

          As far as the loading problems (although it wasn't slow for me on both my home and work connection), I agree that should be fixed if it's not just heavy traffic around the new launch. It seems like they might have some holdings or relationship w/ Squarespace, but I agree the site would function much quicker outside of Squarespace's CMS.

          However, I still think you're missing my point. The form of this website is the function. It's not about communicating facts, they are already well known. In an RFP process at the level these guys are operating, no client is finding them by searching Google for "digital agencies" and then just picking based on who has the most vanilla easy-to-use bootstrap site. There's literally a million agencies out there with this site: http://blackrockdigital.github.io/startbootstrap-agency/

          For them it's about communicating a mood and an attitude that matches with the target audience of their marketing clients. Real user (ie. Human) experiences involve human emotions, and if you want to sell somebody something (like your agency's image), you aren't going to make any impact if you can't tap into that.

          It makes sense that DN always condescendingly scolds hamburger menus, carousels, scrolljacking, etc. even on marketing websites. At the typical DNer's job, the best user experience for their users is the most utilitarian and most efficient. But remember this isn't a product, tool, or app you will use to complete a task. How many times will you ever visit an agency website? Once...? Utility is not the metric to use here.

          Context matters. Sure, it would annoy the hell out of me if Facebook decided to put a full-screen carousel on the top of the news feed; I visit that site almost daily and go there to complete a specific task or to consume as much content as possible.

          But here? I'm just on instrument.com to see something cool and aesthetically interesting. If it takes me half a second longer to explore the site, that's OK. It's why I went there in the first place.

          0 points
          • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

            However, I still think you're missing my point. The form of this website is the function.

            I think you're confusing function with purpose.

            Both form and function have purpose – but in this case, the function is clearly fitting around the form, and as I've noted, the site's form is fantastic ;)

            1 point
        • Tom WoodTom Wood, over 3 years ago

          Excellent and well reasoned crit Duncan.

          I have to agree that I experienced the same issue with loading. I figured the site was broken, and opened it in 3 different browsers as I couldn't get into a post.

          1 point
  • Scott de JongeScott de Jonge, over 3 years ago

    The design is solid, but the loading times are brutal. There is a lot of simple optimisation of assets that could happen here.

    2 points
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, over 3 years ago

    So for grins I viewed source..this is a squarespace theme.

    2 points
  • Greg DGreg D, over 3 years ago

    Phenomenal work (as usual). Screenshotting the fuck out of these case studies for inspiration.

    1 point
  • Alex CarpenterAlex Carpenter, over 3 years ago

    I really enjoy the work Instrument puts out but I find this site is a little difficult to navigate when everything is fading in and out.

    1 point
  • David DarnesDavid Darnes, over 3 years ago

    It's rare for a site to make me slow down and view the content on it's own merit.

    Sometimes I like a site but not actually look at the content, I'm too busy looking at the details of how they did things and generally looking in the inspector. This didn't make me do that. The design is simple but functional, which meant I didn't bother looking at the details and actually looked at their work.

    Great job.

    1 point
  • Pierre de MillyPierre de Milly, over 3 years ago

    Unfortunately I'm stuck on a blank page with the Instrument logo in the middle if I try seeing anything else than the home page :/

    1 point
  • Tycho Klein SevertTycho Klein Severt, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    I love what they did for Nike! The COO of the company was on Reddit a few days ago because of a very cool painting they made for him.

    1 point
  • Account deleted over 3 years ago

    How... wha... there's no scrollbar! What is this voodoo!? (not donuts)

    0 points
  • Pierre VerrierPierre Verrier, over 3 years ago

    I have to say that the career postings are a breath of fresh air. Nice to see simplicity in knowing humans will understand what caliber is desired. If anything, they will naturally fall on the best applicant. Well done Instrument.

    One thing I noticed is the page title doesn't always seem to appear as it should, it just pulls the url in it's place.

    0 points
  • Tomas Barcys, over 3 years ago

    Got me styled like a hipster... A bit cringe.

    0 points