November 26, 2017

It's not all about appearance

You may not have noticed, but the majority of websites written by amateurs like me all look somehow familiar: they may have different words, different photos, or different colors – but they all look the same.

The sameness isn't an accident: it has happened because most amateur web sites are done using a site tool such as Wordpress, or Drupal, or similar packages, and they usually create column-left, content-right pages which appear more-or-less the same.

Not here: this is the simplest native HTML you can imagine. I'll use a Definition List sometimes, and I have a css file to make it easy to specify fonts and whatnot, but that's about as intricate as this gets.

I don't know how the web went from linked content and original thinking to the place we're at now, but I think we've all been on a trip through web-sites-r-us and got distracted by all the primary colors and cartoon characters: everyone has been trying to find the "perfect" font or background image or cartooney GIF, but we forgot to actually say something in the process. I feel that the web is the best means of distributing information ever devised – and I go back so far we had to write on the disks with a chisel – but it has been waylayed by designers and merchandisers, searching for the most feel-good make-them-want-to-buy appearance.

I reserve the black-text-on-white-background convention for special criticism: as far as I'm concerned, it's carp. If that was the "most readable" way to present textual information, then the FAA would be doing it in their aircraft routing centers, and they don't.

I don't need to see pretty pictures or exotic floating content. I just want to publish or get information, and everything that doesn't convey that information is, at best, a distraction.