Robin, after noticing that most print books are perfectly fine (decent type, decent cover, decent paper), notices that most websites are not fine:
The baseline for websites is not great. Okay, fine: most websites are pure, unadulterated, straight-up bad. Bad from top to bottom, bad from left to right. There’s no denying it, as much as I might want to. And I do want to! I want to hold up the field of web design and say that it’s en par with what musicians and painters and everyone else is doing in every other field. I’ve dedicated my life to this thing and so when I find a beautiful website, something that pushes the whole thing forwards, I want to loudly celebrate it.
I truly want every website to be worthy of our browsers.
But modern websites are not worthy. They’re slow, hard to navigate, and plagued with visual crap; pop-ups, bad typography, newsletter modals, and everything else imaginable.
Bummer, really. Especially because this is our job, dammit. We make websites, and websites are making us look bad. I’d rather tell someone at a party that I’m an investment banker rather than a web designer these days. Have you seen a friggin mobile news website? We might as well be printing headlines on cinder blocks and tossing them through people’s windows. Except the cinder blocks don’t try to capitalize on the fact that I searched for “improve self-confidence” until the end of time.
What’s extra fricked about all this is that you really gotta try to screw up a website as much as we do. Pick a theme on WordPress.com and spin up a simple blog. Do an eCommerce thing on SquareSpace and sell painted pencil erasers. Use an Astro template to build your next media endeavor. They will be very much fine out of the box. Better than fine. Pretty damn decent, really. They get not-fine when we’re like… you know what this article needs? A sticky position ad for Geico right in the middle of it. And if they scroll past that, hit ’em with the newsletter subscribe modal. Anything to keep them from reading the next paragraph or even having any confidence there is a next paragraph to be found.
The closest we have to “fine” on the web is
crawling into a condom using a high-powered ad blocker, browsing from a good desktop computer, and having a very fast internet connection. Oh, and having zero current disabilities.
I wonder if we’re already at “pretty much fine” for the vast majority of websites, by volume, it’s just the ones where all the action is that are all junked up.
So many other things in life are in the “pretty much fine” category — which is a pleasant place to be. Go out to a restaurant? It’ll be pretty much fine. Buy literally any random stapler? It’ll staple just fine. A car? Pick one, and it’ll drive down the road, tell you what.