Discovering the Brutalist web



Via the IndieWeb wiki, I discovered the concept of Brutalist web design, a set of principles I was already applying in my own work without having a name for them. To make links easily spotted, what a concept! Or buttons. Consumer electronics you can't figure out how to turn on, anyone?

Let me quote just one paragraph of the introduction:

A website's materials aren't HTML tags, CSS, or JavaScript code. Rather, they are its content and the context in which it's consumed. A website is for a visitor, using a browser, running on a computer to read, watch, listen, or perhaps to interact. A website that embraces Brutalist Web Design is raw in its focus on content, and prioritization of the website visitor.

Reminds me of my pro days, when oh-so-creative graphic designers would make beautiful layouts without a clue of what the content would be, then expected me, the programmer, to fix things when said content wouldn't fit. And you're going to say, wasn't it the customer who failed to send samples on time? Sure... but it's part of a professional's duty to educate people.

And then there was that time when the same graphic designers wouldn't understand what the problem was with making everything on the web page a div element. I ended up disabling stylesheets in Firefox and going to Wikipedia. It was ugly, sure, but still perfectly structured and readable...

Which is why to this day my websites look and work great in text-based browsers. Without anything special done to them. And funny how that doesn't have to mean a boring black-and-white design, either.

You can have color. Good typography. Even borders and shadows if you like. Just don't forget about your goals... or your visitors.

Because that's how you fall to the dark side. Which isn't the same as dark mode, natch.


Tags: website, philosophy