On Catholic Design

On Catholic Design February 21, 2012

Remember the Total Consecration App I was promoting a while ago? The gentleman who designed that, Matthew Sich, is the man, and he has some words of wisdom for the online Catholic community:

It’s difficult to capture the essence of what I do with the few words afforded to a standard job title. After toying around for a while with a few variations, I usually settle with “web and iOS developer, and web and iOS designer,” but I always attempt to emphasize that I am a designer first and foremost because I believe this aspect is paramount. A person who has the ability to create a good message or develop a product but lacks good design will invariably run into trouble because one cannot reach the full potential of a message or product without it.

I raise this point because I believe Catholic media is very disappointing in modern society. I do not wish to say that the message is disappointing (not at all! The message is usually quite astounding) but that the way the message is presented is depressing. Modern Catholic media has absolutely no appreciation for design! …and yet they appear to be at a loss when trying to understand why their message has not been effective.

I believe the design is the most important part of modern media. If the design is not good then the message is worthless. Why? Because the first impression someone has of a website or an app or virtually any media is the design! A user passes judgment on a product (or whatever the media is) in the first few seconds of its presentation! The message could be great but if the design is not up to par, a user will always end up choosing the media with better design – but maybe not the greatest message. Simply look at Apple as an example. Why are they currently outselling Windows? Most end users don’t know many computer technical details: they’re interested in their ideas coming to life on the screen… and so many people are attracted to simplicity and aesthetics—the mark of Apple products.

I was lucky because I started with design. At age thirteen, I learned Photoshop by watching my brother design stunning illustrations and then moved on to motion design and visual effects a few years later. Perhaps because of this I’m a bit biased in believing design to be more important than the development or message: after all, great painting skills do not make one a great artist.  It is not lost on me that fantastic ideas may be stifled by a lack of skills in projecting those ideas. Nonetheless, good development fails without good design. We as Catholics should strive toward greater design in our message. We cannot be mediocre and hope people ignore the unflattering stage on which our message is set. If you want to become a better designer, don’t be lazy! Go look at the work of other designers! You will never become a good designer by simply knowing what buttons to press in Photoshop or by following online tutorials. You actually have to go out and analyze media and keep up with the latest trends. Never use the excuse that you are not capable or that time will not permit it! I have not learned all these things that I do now by following formal classes, I simply learned by trial and error. If you don’t have the time to learn, then don’t waist it by creating the message or product in question. All it takes in the motivation to strive for greatness in your design and not to simply settle for “good enough.”

There is no limit to design! I believe creators of Catholic media should strive to become greater designers because the design complements the message and, in turn, the message complements the design. The reason I started developing apps was to fill the design void in Catholic apps currently present on the app store. I hope that other creators of Catholic media realize the need for better design and attempt to implement it. I also hope that users of Catholic media begin to demand for better design form the creators of Catholic media. Again, never settle for mediocrity.

Matthew Sich grew up in Ukraine where he learned to speak Ukrainian as his first language. He began working with computers at the age of thirteen by first learning photoshop, then moving on to motion design and visual effects as a moderator at Videocopilot.net. Soon after he developed an interest in web development which eventually led to the development of iOS apps. Now 18, he works as a professional web designer and developer and iOS developer and UI designer while double majoring in computer science and communication arts at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Bloggers, take a look at your sites and ask yourself, “Does this look like a brilliant and passionate but technologically stupid, and graphically-illiterate Catholic made this?” Chances are, it does. Correct said suckage and let Holy Mother Church be exalted through the power of good web design. Mr. Sich, by the way, is working on a project for me, a project a million times larger in scope than BadCatholic, incredibly more involved, and 20 times more offensive. But it’s still a secret until, I hope, March 26th. Then the world will explode. Let this be the first clue.

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