Broken Windows Theory in Design and Social Media

4:58:00 PM

There are a lot of theories out in the world and there is a lot that can be applied to design. One that comes to mind is the Broken Windows Theory. Everyone knows what the broken windows theory is in Criminology, but to explain, James Wilson and George Kelling first put The “Broken Windows” theory of crime forth in 1982. The theory is the idea that serious and violent crime can be reduced in an urban area through strict enforcement of lesser crimes such as graffiti, skipping subway fare, and vandalism. Crime rates at that time were through the roof and scholars were seeking some type of explanation. In short, people committed crimes because they were criminals.

So how does it apply to design? It is not about the visual aesthetics. It is about the content itself that is the most important. In retrospect, the way the band looks is what draws the audience in, not the process. If the content is uninspiring, boring, and off-topic, users become uninterested. If one thing is missing or out of place, your entire design is messed up. With your design, you need to fix each piece one by one.

One example of when broken windows go wrong is the collapse of Myspace. Myspace was the top social media network in the early 2000’s. One leading cause of the collapse of Myspace is the ugliness and inconsistent interface. Even though the users asked for the customization of profiles, it introduced hideous type, unexpected auto playing, and other design faux leading to several broken windows. Other social media networks like Facebook saw this and produce a clean and consistent interface. As they say, “another one’s loss, is another one’s personal gain”. Yet, Facebook may soon suffer the same fate. In 2013, it appears like Myspace will get its edge back with a more beautiful interface, interactive design aspects, more uses for all users for business or personal. It fix the unattractive, unappealing design faux leading to those broken windows in the past. As an artist, you should try to identify your broken windows. Ideally identify those small things that do not seem significant to deal with and fix them. This will show progress, level of dedication, and professionalism. By fixing the small things, you often end up fixing big things.

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