Posting Date: September 17, 2002
WebWord Comment -- How many superheroes are associated with the color green? Here's my list to start things off: The Hulk, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, The Riddler, and the Green Goblin. It seems that green is a very superhero (and supervillain) color. Does that make WebWord a superhero site? What do superheroes have to do with usability? Let us count the ways!
The Hulk teaches us that clothes would be more durable if they were held together with velcro instead of thread.
Kryptonite - bad greenness. Superman.
Spinach - good greenness. Popeye.
I don't know what superheroes have to do with usability, but I know that usability issues in a sense have made it into comic books. In the good ol' days, Iron Man (who, admittedly, is not green, but is still a superhero) would just fly around and zap people with his lasers and whatnot. Now days, writers and artists of such things have to be aware of the greater technological sophistication of their audience, and actually show HOW the man controls the machine--HUD with expanding menus and such. Certainly, not everything is explained or even close to "realistic", but there is a trend towards fans not letting them get away with simply claiming, "oh, he does it with a cybernetic interface". They want to know how it's "really" done.
An observation. On my fat pipe connections and home and work, the first thing that loads on WebWord is the green bar. There's perhaps a 0.5 second delay between the green bar and the rest of the page. When he changed the slogan, it caught my eye.
The Green Goblin was a villain, not a hero (and, FWIW, Spider Man's nemesis Dr. Octopus also wore green, perhaps also Captain America's Red Skull?)
Prince Namor, the Submariner, wore green trunks, IIRC.
But are you erroneously focusing on green? Why not blue (Spider-Man, Fantastic 4, Superman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Captain America...) or red (many of the same...)?
Well, to be fair, Namor started off with red trunks, and there was that bit with the blue and yellow gizmo fin-like during what I like to call "the bad time." Other than that, though, green was the rule of the day.
Since you snuck Green Goblin and the Riddler in there, John, I submit the Joker for consideration. His other favorite color was green. Also, Poison Ivy, who favored green plants and green suits. And let us not forget the Green Hornet and faithful pal Kato. Dare I mention Aquaman?
In the world of comics, green typically means organic. It's also goes well with other bright villian colors, like purple. I kind of see a pattern with DC here. Marvel always did kind of favor the red white and blue.
In real life, most people find green to be a soothing color. I doubt this was what artists were thinking of, though. Most of the time (such as in the case of Green Lantern, I would think) they probably just wanted to spice up the name of the hero. Superman would feel kind of silly shouting, "Hey, Lantern!" but if he could say, "Hey, Green Lantern" that sounds a lot better.
Oh, and don't forget Man Thing - "That which knows fear BURNS at Man-Thing's touch!!!"
(He is sort of like Swamp Thing, but doesn't speak and will burn evildoers with his very touch.)
Why is The Incredible Hulk green ?
Herb Trimpe told me the story that the Hulk was originally meant to be gray, but because of the limited ink color palette green was chosen instead. You'll notice that a lot of the Marvel chacters are red, green or blue. This is simply because of the limitations of the early color printing process and also the Marvel convention of using strong bold colors.
The gray hulk was used as an alternate hulk.
Thanks Mac, for the note on why red, green and blue prevail (or used to in any case). I also think you just happened to pick green to focus on. When I think superheroes, I think blue and red and I figure the focus came from the national colors.
A propos blue and red national colors, here's a somewhat related entry:
I don't know what superheros have to do with usability, but I do know that the color green has something to do with usability. I noted this on my weblog a few months back.
It's all the dom-com city folk living in man-made cement environments. It creates two design camps. The first embraces the city, spurting creativity in shades of gray. The other embraces the illusion of nature. Green is compelling because we're exhausted from being saturated by a cavalcade of colors blasted at us by advertising during every moment we occupy public places. Green holds a more noble, sincere idea alive in our minds. It is a subconscious connection with nature.
OK, I'm just BSing. I don't know why people like green. I personally think people respond to yellow, specifically marigold, better than anything. It's a tad difficult to make marigold compelling on the web though, unless you have a vibrant LCD monitor.
I recall with some amusement meeting a New York elementary school student visiting a school on the west coast. She was enamored by the school's lawns. Apparently her school has no baseball field, no soccer field, no grass of any sort.
Back to MadMan's question. I don't know who stole the other's design, but I'd hire 37 Signals. An "elite team of expert web design and usability specialists." Reminds me of an elite team of crack commandos. Bring in the hired guns and clean up our mess.
Whereas, the name "twothiry" reminds of the time of day when I'm getting drowsy and decide to turn to WebWord to spout off a comment and wake myself up. (This would be more obvious if WebWord's clock was tuned to Pacific Time.) I'm not hiring anyone to sleep on the job.
OK, ok, the designs are similar, but I wouldn't go so far as to say someone was ripped off.
My favourite superhero The Vision wore a lot of green. Erm, not sure how I could relate that to usability though. Sorry.
(this site's getting weirder than my weblog, I'm going to have to try harder)
Matt, many years ago (1985) I bought the entire Vision and the Scarlet Witch mini-series. I think I still have it in cold storage. Unfortunately, I did not like the series that much. Did you read it? Hmm...too bad I couldn't trade the V & SW mini-series for a couple of Led Zeppelin CDs.
1) Yes, Webword is a superhero site.
2) Superheroes have lots to do with usability -- Superheroes are the ultimate power users - their utility belts and gizmos must be highly usable due to the urgent and often life-threatening situations in which they are used. Super-powers are great examples of convergence (e.g., instead of x-ray glasses, just converge the concept into x-ray vision).
How about green monsters?
a) Frankenstein (or is it Fronkenschteen?)
c) The Grinch
d) The Mask
e) The Green Slime
f) Jolly Green Giant
g) Kermit the Frog
Psst, want to know what really inspired the green used at Webword?
Lyle, I can't get the picture of John wearing those pants out of my head. I'm now trying to imagine you naked to see if I can displace it!
Interesting strategy, Mac. Personally, I'm trying to imagine Scott Bakula naked to get rid of everything. I'll wager I'm having a lot more success than you are!
Mac, this is brilliant and you must do more of these. I LOVE 'em. Never thought of myself as a Nick Fury kind of guy, but I think it is OUTSTANDING and entirely entertaining.
Obviously, you are Captain Britain.
As I have been adding the powers description I have been laughing my head off as the descriptions really fit well. I really believe that Lydia can manipulate my thoughts, and the description for Jakob has just made me spill my tea all down my trousers !
But, I was able to save myself with my protective forcefield !
Great stuff (the Dr.Octopus thing might well catch on), but you surely can't feature MadMan as a superhero without the chimp sidekick..?
Matt's right. I'm thinking MadMan is Speed Racer with his little companion Chim Chim. (I'm being polite by not suggesting Spridal & Chim Chim. Oops, there I said it.)
Thought maniuplation: very cool. Head of huge corporation making mega money: also very cool. Will use crippling psi-powers only for good, not evil. Well, mostly. Mostly for good. Maybe a little evil. Maybe just enough to convince the Sub Mariner to arm wrestle me.