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Intimacy Hierarchy

Published by Chris Coyier

Pete Pinnell in a video about fine art and ceramic cups talking about human behavior:

We'll look at things that we won't nudge with our foot.
We'll nudge things with our foot that we won't pick up in our hand.
We'll pick things up in our hand that we won't put up to our mouth.
We'll put things to our mouth that we won't put in our mouth.

There is an intimacy hierarchy in web design too.

There are websites that we visit because we have to, but we wouldn't get an account with.
There are websites that we have accounts with that we would never participate in.
There are websites we participate in that we don't enjoy.
There are websites that we enjoy but don't participate in.
There are websites we enjoy and participate in but don't share everything with.
There are websites that we share everything with, but don't trust.
There are websites that we trust and share everything with; these are the sites we love.

In ceramics, a perfect cup is both aesthetically beautiful and functionally beautiful (it drinks well). The cup enhances the experience of drinking. The cup can even make what you are drinking out of it taste better.

A website that is well designed and functions well makes the content seem better, smarter, more authoritative, and more trustworthy. A beloved website will effortlessly weave itself into our daily life, and become a permanent fixture in our thoughts.

Big thanks to Jeff Campana who showed me the video and helped strengthen the analogy.


  1. Permalink to comment#

    Wow that’s deep :]

  2. Maria
    Permalink to comment#

    Sweet. I watched that video this weekend as well. Never thought to translate it into website design. Thanks for the extended thought!

  3. That’s so deep, I can smell the incense burning, the faint smell of patchouli, and the sweet sounds of Jerry Garcia playing in the background.

  4. Eddie
    Permalink to comment#

    CSS-Tricks is one of those sites that we love!

  5. Well put!!!

  6. Wow! I got my zen for today. Deep things to think about.

  7. Gotta Agree, and I do really love CSS-Tricks too!

  8. Permalink to comment#

    year thats true :)
    but! Ease of functionality and speed has its own “beauty” :).

    Ich kanns auch in deutsch sagen:
    Schnelligkeit und Funktionalität hat seine eigene Schönheit.:)

  9. We Love CSS-TRICKS!!!!

  10. Trent
    Permalink to comment#

    As one who has always believed that software and the ability to choreograph the user experience is an art I love todays post. The video was very thoughtful as well. So…just to take the analogy full circle as it relates to the video – what would you say dissonance is to website design? The current grunge themes that are being experimented with that ignore conventional standards but in an expressive way? That interesting quirkyness that feels more interesting to play with than a fully rounded shiny symetrical website? As always thanks for a great topic and commentary.

  11. “these are the sites we love”, yup, thanks,

  12. “There are websites that we love; these are our websites”

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