Which Reigns Supreme in Graphic Design: Functionality or Design?

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One-on-one with Nick Roach. This week's poll on GraphicDesign.com takes readers inside the mind of one of the top WordPress theme developers on the planet, ElegantThemes.com founder and designer Nick Roach.

Elegant Themes Logo

Elegant Themes Logo

"I feel it's more about design as opposed to functionality," Roach told GraphicDesign.com in one of his first public interviews.

This week's poll on GraphicDesign.com takes readers inside the mind of one of the top WordPress theme developers on the planet, ElegantThemes.com founder and designer Nick Roach. The site is one of the largest distributors of WordPress themes in existence and its head honcho, Roach, has taken the position that design should outweigh functionality when creating themes.

"I feel it's more about design as opposed to functionality," Roach told GraphicDesign.com in one of his first public interviews. "Trying to reduce the functionality down to the minimum and focusing on an elegant design are important… We want to think about usability. While our main focus is simplicity, a lot of our competitors try to pack as much functionality in as possible and it's cluttered. It's all about simplicity and keeping things open."

Roach has responded to customers that have called for additional ad spots and other distractions in his designs. His retort: "I actually have talked with customers who send me e-mails with complaints asking why there's so much empty space in the header. They say they can fit two banners in there and I have to tell them that you don't want to smash as many things in as possible because it'll add confusion."

Again, simplicity reigns supreme according to Roach. He added that color, subtlety, and pixel perfect details make any WordPress theme he develops graphically pleasing. As Roach put it, "Modesty is a huge deal for me personally… Flashy as a personal trait and flashy in design do not appeal to me."

Roach's business model centers on selling access to WordPress themes on a subscription basis to consumers and developers. Both options include access to all of the nearly 100 themes ElegantThemes.com has produced, free theme updates, and technical support. The subscription geared toward developers also includes access to Photoshop files.

What business model do readers of GraphicDesign.com prefer: subscription or a la carte? At the end of Roach's interview, readers are asked that very question, the results of which will be published next week.

Finally, the general public is increasingly turning to iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and the like to view content, so it's up to ElegantThemes.com and graphic designers everywhere to produce high-quality experiences for mobile users. Enter "responsive" themes, in which the design itself changes based on screen size.

Roach emphasized, "The way we browse the internet is changing a lot. Smartphones and tablets are being introduced. Creating themes that change and adapt depending on the device is really important."

Visit GraphicDesign.com for the full interview with ElegantThemes.com founder and designer Nick Roach. And don't forget to weigh in on the questions at the end of the article. Both the article and poll can be found HERE.

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