The Dalai Lama inspires Web Design

Not everyone would expect to find inspiration for web design or development from the Dalai Lama. It’s hard to imagine that the 76 year old religious leader would understand the best practices of interacting with users on the web. I certainly didn’t expect it. I’ve been following the Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) now on Twitter for a while. He nails it, and I’m going to try and explain it to you now.

Most of the Dalai Lama’s tweets appear as short Buddhist teachings or proverbs. They teach understanding and living at peace with the world and those that inhabit it. What’s wonderful is that these teachings, I think, can often show us how to better treat our users and others in the community. Let me show you some examples.

Creating positive user experiences

Compassion is a deep desire to see others relieved of suffering; love is the other facet, a strong wish to see others happy.link to source

This teaches that you should follow best practices and create positive user experiences. How’s that? Well you can show compassion for your users by serving them a rounded button created by CSS3 rather than creating this effect with images. This will save them the suffering of longer download times.

The second part of this teaching can be fulfilled by providing love in the form of fallbacks for those users whose browsers might not support these new CSS3 rounded corners. Show that you love all of your users by serving up images for these users so that they can still see your design as intended.

Accessibility

Whatever steps, however small, one can take towards learning to reduce the influence of the negative emotions can be very helpful.link to source

Yeah, maybe adding in those tab stops and titles on anchor tags might only take a second, and nobody really looks at them anyway. Taking these small steps and adding these elements might only take a second, and they could greatly help the browsing experience users in certain situations.

Give back to the community

It seems wrong to think kindness is exclusively the business of religion; something to be neglected if one isn’t interested in spirituality.link to source

This saying is much more straight forward, and part of the inspiration for me starting this blog. These days everyone is looking for the best deal for them. They want free, fast, bigger, better, now. What the Dalai Lama is telling us here is that, whatever life you might live, you should always try to give back. People like Paul Irish, John Resig and others are examples of people who exemplify this way of living.

Use the best tool for the job

Something that I only realized later about the Dalai Lama’s tweets is that they are just that, tweets. 140 character tweets are perfect for his short teachings. I think that this is why the he has 2,131,491 followers on Twitter. He also has a Facbook page but this is not as popular ( 1,819,580 people like him ). The medium of Twitter perfectly suits the messages that he is putting out.

The web community could learn from this too. So often we go for our the technologies that we are most comfortable with. Are you sure that jQuery is the right javascript library for your task? Do you really need the whole HTML5 Boilerplate when there are more concise alternatives?

The main aim of this article is not to convert people to buddhism but simply to show that inspiration can come from anywhere. All you have to do is look for it.