Web Brutalism?

15 February 2018

Before I Begin: I intended for this post to be for my (personal) Tumblr blog but as I got more into the “websites should encourage discovery” thing, I thought “heck, I think I finally have something new to talk about on my tech blog”. Also note the more relaxed, casual style. I think I’ll go for this style in future posts. To hell with it.

“What is web brutalism?” you might ask? It’s a throwback to the early days of the web. Forget animations everywhere, i.e. forget about using JavaScript for non-functional things. Strip that website down to nothing but the basic images and text. Some people take things a little overboard by really, and I mean really, going ham on the formatting. All-caps and bold text, everywhere? YEAH. Use grotesque colours? Sure. No formatting (including font weights) except for that one font? Why not. I could go on-and-on.

I’ve had this little web brutalism obsession lately. I love to frequent brutalistwebsites.com to get a douse of some inspiration. However I find that using the web brutalist style for my personal site can give off the wrong message. I think keeping it simple and minimalist while also being functional is something which could be done. But using default-default fonts like Times New Roman or Arial can seem lazy to some.

Heck, I don’t even need to talk about the fonts. Just restricting my site to a single page got me some flack/”erm, really?” from a high school teacher of mine. I mean, yeah, having multiple pages with a consistent navigation bar/menu gives it a professional impression. But why give the links to the other parts of my/your/an amazing site when they could be forced to explore it instead?

Take for example my personal website. There are two other major pages other than index.html – the Locations and Playlists pages. I did attempt to implement a floating navigation menu where visitors can forget about scrolling all the way to the bottom to get to those links. But why do that when I can have people read the website like a sheet of paper, top-to-bottom? Along the way they can see links to the rest of my web presence, as well as my projects.

A Side Note: I’ve only recently added Locations which lists places I think are worth visiting and some places to eat in both my hometown/home-island(?) of Penang, as well as my supposedly-adopted home of Melbourne. The names of these places also link to a Google Map place page. Check it out!

All in all, despite the grotesque colour schemes or the occasional avant-garde layouts I think web brutalism brings back the notion that websites are worth exploring. Also, here’s a collection of brutalist sites which don’t take things too far and pertain to the idea of web brutalism as a form of stripping down websites to the bare necessities.