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All Websites Look the Same (novolume.co.uk)
171 points by brownie on Sept 7, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 99 comments



(Most) all websites should look the same. Most browsers look the same. Most car dashes look the same. Most newspapers look the same. Most books look the same.

The web is not art. At least, not most of the time. Websites should only look markedly different with good reason. For most clients, there is not a good reason.


> "Most car dashes look the same"...

Not sure what cars you've been driving, but search for 'car dash' on google images and bask in the differences.

Saying that all websites should look the same might be reasonable when you're talking about one network or brand, but outside of that, creativity should be explored, encouraged and rewarded.

Who wants a world with every restaurant, bar, urban design or any design looking the same? Good design and UX has nothing to do with copying your neighbour's layout and changing a few colours. Just because that's frequently done, doesn't mean these cookie-cut sites deserve any praise other than "good copy 'n paste job mate".


> Not sure what cars you've been driving, but search for 'car dash' on google images and bask in the differences.

They are all minor/semi-major style differences. But in the end they all have a round wheel, some buttons in the middle and some form of RPM+speed meters.

Definitely wouldn't say I am basking in differences.


You're describing content, not form. Many websites also have to show the same things (login button => speedometer) but they don't have to look the same.


It struck me recently that most cars are increasingly looking the same. It used to be that Peugeots had a very typical nose, Volkswagens had their own boring but efficient look, Volvos were kinda blocky. These days I can barely tell the make of a car by looking at the lines, and that's because they all need to perform the same function: transport a similar number of people at similar speed with as low fuel consumption as possible. So they all have basically the same streamlined lines.

Most websites want their navigation to be found, so they put it in the same place as every other website. They want their story easily readable in the center.

There's still plenty of variation, but sites with similar goals are going to end up with a lot of similar elements.


What exactly is the benefit to making things different other than satisfying some designer's need to be "creative"? It's helpful if you can expect login buttons to be in roughly the same place every time, navigation elements to be arranged the same way and point to the same types of places - Home/Products/Support/About/Jobs.

Being different for the sake of being different just wastes people's time trying to find stuff that isn't where they expect it to be.


Lack of innovation means lack of improvement. Endevoring to do things other than the rote way can lead to a better way.


You don't drive a Renault, do you.


> (Most) all websites should look the same.

Yes, modulo marketing concerns. Which obviously is something not regarded very highly on this forum :)


Of course, then the question should be why most websites settled on this particular style originally.


It's probably dictated to some degree by some aspect of culture. When you visit the websites where another culture dominates, one might find things to be different from what we're used to but similar to others where that other culture dominates the design.


A very good point I think, the web in your language is not always the same as the web in other languages, for example sites like nicovideo.js do tend to be different and carry a lot more information per page than American or European sites.


nicovideo.jp, I assume?


An easy mistake to make as s and p are right next to one-another on the qwerty um ... I might not be paying attention.


Because it flows naturally between mobile and desktop. Mobile first design is harder than most of us admit, and mobile first that looks good is even harder.


I agree. It's achieving 'dominant design' and a sign of maturation. Once, there were many designs (many car startups too) for a car steering wheel. At some point, they converged on the idea of a round gizmo, because it balanced utility and design, form and function... And lucky for us, designers moved onto other things.


This makes a lot of sense. To address a comment or two: It doesn't seem like much of a stretch to imagine that 21echoes' proposal includes the concept that websites of a similar nature should resemble each other rather than that all websites should look alike.


That would be true if every website had the same job. They don't. Some are there to inform the user, some to persuade the user, some to gather information, some to work as a shopfront and others to work as a product in themselves. It would be a very odd design quirk if one design worked best for all those things.


Aaand... Looking at their landing page[1] I can see they've chosen to go with a horizontal page layout. Because they use a non standard page layout they have a black stripe bumping in and out of the viewport instructing the user that they can/should scroll. This is quite a common layout among artsy portfolio themes[2].

Has anyone ever tried to sidescroll a web page lately? On my Yosemite MBP with latest Firefox/Chromium I just get a jitter and no movement. Sometimes the scrollbar moves in the wrong the direction and then dies.

Moral: what is tried and tested usually works very well.

[1] http://www.novolume.co.uk/

[2] http://demo.koken.me/#boulevard


> On my Yosemite MBP with latest Firefox/Chromium I just get a jitter and no movement

So turns out you have to scroll up/down to get it to scroll left/right. That makes total sense. And the speed is way off so the first time I tried it it just flicked straight to the end...


Exactly! As I said in my other comment in this same thread, their website is quite bad, they use unintuitive and wrongly implemented UI, which produces horrible UX.

For me - scroll hijacking (or crazy unintuitive scrolling in general) is the worst 'feature' 'web designer' can implement. Gives me instant rage.


Ugh, obviously they hijack scrolling. Unusable on Safari. Though I think side scrolling is a really bad idea it would work just fine if the designer lets me use native scrolling.


> At times I think back to when websites were produced in Flash. For all its downfalls (and there were a lot) one thing was always true. Flash sites rarely looked the same.

The author clearly doesn't remember what it was actually like to arrive on a Flash site, and play the fun games of 'where has the designer hidden the navigation today?' and 'oh crap, how do I turn the sound off?'.

Design patterns are there to ensure that functionality works in a roughly consistent manner across different sites, so instead of having to spend ages figuring out an inscrutable interface, the user can easily buy a product or find the information they want and get on with their day.

This is not a trend. This is lots of people slowly figuring out how content should be structured for maximum usability in a web context. Layout conventions will develop over time, as new ideas are incorporated and technology changes, but that's a good thing.

As has been pointed out, books have looked roughly the same for the last few hundred years, but design innovation has only increased, as technology and our understanding of the conventions involved has improved.

The visual design area is more susceptible to trends - a few years ago everything was glossy, then with 'Flat UI' everything became dark blue and a sickly shade of green. But that's ok too. Except for the green, that was horrible.

The danger is with 'cargo cult' design. That's where the complaint against generic themes is valid – a style is used because it's popular without thinking about whether it's actually the best fit for the content and what's to be achieved.


I fucking.hated.flash websites.

HATED.

With a passion.

Even when it was being done it was a stupid tech trick from jackass developers, it was never a designer driven thing except as a means of doing layouts that were you couldn't do in html at the time. and it was NEVER about usability.

I hated that trend and thank god it didn't last very long specifically BECAUSE it threw the users under the bus.


Honestly, as a website dev during the height of flash's dominance, I think you're a little off with your hatred.

During this time, it was extremely rare to have a designer involved in website design (I can't prove it, but I think you'll see a correlation with the growth of template sites at the time, I broke my back trying to learn design and color theory at the time and I still can't even draw a straight line freehand :) so what I normally had to deal with was the client as designer. Complete nightmare...

Here's one anecdotal data point:

I was designing an eshop for a client. He demanded a long flash intro to the site. I tried to lead him through an idea-

You want customers? Yes. You want repeat customers? Yes. You want them to have to wait 30 seconds every time they shop to watch your intro? Errr, yes! Ok.....

So I snuck in a huge skip intro button on the flash intro...

Call from client: 'hey, my buddies tell me that the intro is ruined by a big button saying 'skip intro'. Remove it now!!! It's degrading the experience!!!'

I tried, but hey, I got paid, and his business suffered in the long run- and I mean went bankrupt...

I know of few developers at the time who wanted to do flash intros. It was normally forced on them...


Most Flash sites were pretty bad (the first site I made was Flash, and it was bad), but it was also used to create possibly the finest website ever made.

http://superior-web-solutions.com/

Turn the sound up, and definitely do not skip the intro. It'll bring a tear to your eye.


I enable flash to watch this, I will never get back this 5 minutes of my life, DANGER DO NOT VISIT

One thing is for sure, it brought a tear to my eye.


Oh come on, it's not that bad - it's not like it set fire to your computer or anything.

It's just an amazing example of what you can do with Flash, and why you shouldn't.


I can't be sure that if this is a joke or not


Not a joke. Here's an actual site they did:

http://industrialpainter.com/


I could not disagree more. Don't fix what isn't broken (anymore). I believe that after years of designing websites, we found something that works, and works well. Consumers land on sites and see something familiar. It makes for a comfortable and easier web. I'm all for this "standard" in web design.


Just like we didn't need to fix the infinite-scrolling-homepage before it, or the top-navigation-with-drop-downs design before that , or the left-side-navigation-fixed-width design before that, or the fluid-width-with-header-and-two-sidebars before that. The current design trend is exactly that - a trend. Something else will replace it in a year or two.

The current state-of-the-art full screen background image site is no more a standard than any other design in any other field. Design is a living, breathing thing that evolves as our technology evolves - it moves with the times.

However...

I believe that after years of designing websites, we found something that works, and works well.

You don't need to 'believe'. If you aren't testing your designs and gathering actionable metrics you're really missing out.


Testing is great, but tends to involve small local modifications. It'll get you a site that looks the same in a different way, but won't help if you want something a bit different.

Even if people did run tests on significant redesigns, I suspect results would be dominated by methodological issues and a lack of power, leading to little more than noise.


since 1999 i only do one design, the http://www.slackware.com/ design, its best and forever the best.


Yep. This is like someone saying "all pop songs sound the same". Yup, they do, and because they're meant to be accessible.

The consumer doesn't always want to be challenged. See "Don't Make Me Think". A familiar design allows us to focus on the content, not the delivery.

There are exceptions, of course. Iron Maiden's website is dark and epic, as it should be. They're a metal band. But if I'm going to be buying software from you, c'mon. Make my life easier. Don't make me think.


It's sad that you're suggesting that a good accessible intuitive website needs to follow a specific design recipe or else doomed.

If I'm going to buy software from a website, what matters is quality information architecture and UX, which could be presented in any number of ways.

"Don't make me think"... next you'll be wanting all your restaurant menus to follow the McDonald's menu style guide.

"Thinking" doesn't need to be an annoyance. Promoting "you don't need to think" might even backfire. You're ignoring the benefits of standing out as unique. Leaving a lasting impression however small, can be the difference between earning respect or being seen as playing it safe and therefore a clone in the consumer's eyes. Clones are expendable.

It's a fine line, a balancing act that sorts the confident websites out from the copycat yawn-fests. Take the risk I say, but it's a philosophical difference.


(Basing my comment on Kathy Sierra's post : Your app makes me fat[1].)

The idea is that the user is not on your site to get your ideas about web design but to get specific information. If that info is hard to find, they'll get out and try the next site. Concentrate on making your content memorable rather than your UI.

[1] http://seriouspony.com/blog/2013/7/24/your-app-makes-me-fat


I'm arguing that "unfamiliar" does not necessarily mean "hard to find".

My iPad for example is not unfamiliar, but I find it annoying to bookmark a site because of how the bookmark button is hidden behind an icon which to me looks like "sharing" (little square with arrow pointing up). Same for searching for text on the page.... it's not intuitive. I have to "think" for too many milliseconds each time just to do those basic actions.

You could say "I'm familiar with Apple's annoyingly unintuitive iOS Safari UX for bookmarking and searching text on the page." "Familiar" has not saved the day in this case.

When I go to a site because I'm interested in their product, I'm not looking for a familiar interface in terms of layout or design replication from previously visited websites. I'm looking (unconsciously) for top level things such as clear presentation and logical, friendly layout. "Logic" can appear as many pathways. "Interestingness" is what humans get a buzz from and reward each other for all the time, so if I get a dose of interesting too, served just right and not too much, then it's a winner.


> I'm arguing that "unfamiliar" does not necessarily mean "hard to find".

Fair point. :)

> "Interestingness" is what humans get a buzz from and reward each other for all the time, so if I get a dose of interesting too, served just right and not too much, then it's a winner.

I agree with you but, clearly, it's a hard balance to find. Going back to the article, most website owners (and some designers) don't know what that balance is so they take a safe option. It's an understandable choice, they're not experts. I think it's a net win if those non-experts don't experiment but settle on something that's easily readable. It's a step up from the time when everybody was doing their own thing and standards didn't exist.

In short, you're right: a well-designed website is still better than a generic one. But a generic one is better than a mess put together without paying attention to standards.


It's just one example of fashion in tech. Around ten years ago there was another fashion for web sites - all the panels had rounded corners (and it wasn't supported by CSS, so people created the rounded corners from pieces of images - very unproductive waste of time).

Non-tech people, when ordering a web side, often just don't accept things which look different than other web sites they have seen. At that times it was difficult to convince people rounded panels with borders are not necessary. People often are unable to judge themselves, so they rely on what others do.

There are many other examples of such unhealthy fashion: Spring framework in Java, XML, SOAP, gray text on web pages (even despite it violates W3C accessibility recommendations), not using tables in markup (even if I want tabular layout), etc, etc

On the other hand I agree that uniformity can help people to consume information, and also inventing unique design is often a waste - the content is the most important part. Still, there are many cases of harmful fashion.


Don't want to nit-pick but,

>gray text on web pages (even despite it violates W3C accessibility recommendations),

the W3C don't recommend against grey text at all, they recommend that designers consider the contrast of text colour versus background colour, and to not use light grey on white. It's a matter of contrast and not a blanket rule.

I do think it is important that we don't start making new silly rules about dos and don'ts in web-design.


Contrast, you're right. And also, there are good examples of gray (low contrast) texts - some auxiliary elements.

But when the main text - e.g. an article body - is published in low contrast so that I need to inspect HTML and disable the color to be able to read it, such cases make me sad :(((

:)


I hear you, disable colour, ctrl+, ctrl+, ctrl+. OK, now I can read this!


I'm way too lazy for that, I simply close a page as soon as anything interferes with my reading experience. Whether it is small, low contrast text, survey or region selection popups seconds after initial page load, text jumping once the over sized inane stock photo in the header is finally downloaded, etc.

If the information contained is of any importance it will show up in a readable form somewhere eventually.


For me it's usually ctrl-, ctrl-, ctrl-. I'd like to read more than 20 lines of text before scrolling. That's why I don't still use CGA.


Exactly!


Great comment, and on that note, WAVE accessibility has a very handy tool to check for your contrast, I've used for almost every website I designed. You can find it here:

http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/


For that matter, all books look the same too. And yet everyone knows how to use books. You hand someone a book and they never look at you funny asking how to get to Chapter 1.

His article is negative, but I for one have been able to traverse websites more quickly and easily because they adhere to some now-common conventions. Of course websites need to be original but not SO original that they require the user to adjust their assumptions about what to expect from site while it's loading.


Unless the book is a manga, in which case you will find chapter 1 at the back, and how many of us tried to read our first manga in the early 90s only to be really confused?

I mention it not be a pedantic fool, but because the web also has global regional variations and the linked blog post deals solely with the western web and its layout. There is a marked difference in design and quantity of information (and quality, both positive and negative) of the web we use and the web in other regions.


Honestly I'm fine with most websites sticking to a similar layout as it helps me navigate it faster plus it's just trendy right now so that'll pass like all web design trends before it.

Having said that this specific layout is garbage, in my opinion and not because of its design but because of the way it's used. It's so incredibly rare to see a company use this type of layout without filling in every single space with utter bullshit about generic buzzwords and it just takes up so much space. I can't count how many start-up websites I go to and I have to scroll down for pages just to figure out what they even sell because everything up front is large, generic images that don't mean anything followed by lots of very general phrases and buzzwords.


I think it's safe to say, at least from my view, that Bootstrap is the reason for it. Bootstrap made this format easy and clean, and it works well with mobile. Websites will look like this until someone comes out with the next thing that's easier and/or cleaner and/or works better in mobile and then a couple years later THAT will be the format you're seeing everywhere. I don't think this is a bad thing. At least it's clean and works well on mobile...


Bootstrap didn't invent such websdesign, it was experimented with, learned and improved collectively. If anything, the library implemented these (almost) standards that were wildly used.


He didn't say they invented it, he said they made it easy to do.


Indeed. However, I always thought the idea of Bootstrap was to quickly get a prototype up, not become part of the final product.


I take issue with the current 'standard' design, but only indirectly. I feel like giant home screens give companies the freedom to create a great looking webpage without any actual content - like a giant landing page. Since they all look the same, it's easy to compare and contrast.

I can recall a number of times scrolling through the entire home page for a company, only to still be confused about what the product actually does. I see a huge banner image, coordinating colors, tons of whitespace, very high-level text content...but little that says, "Our product will specifically do this, that, and the next for you!". I have to click around to find that out. By that time, I'm quite annoyed, and I'm not sure if your product is worth my effort.

Maybe my expectations of a home page are wrong though.


"I can recall a number of times scrolling through the entire home page for a company, only to still be confused about what the product actually does."

This seems to be a major problem lately with startups, especially ones promoted on YC. The home page is often one big image with a little vague text and a "sign up" button. Half the time you can't even tell if it's a shipping product, or much about what it does.

There are people who will click on anything, so this strategy looks, at first, like it's working. ("We have a zillion users and signups! We're ready for another financing round!") As the clickbait advertising industry has discovered, the click on everything crowd does not buy much. Most clicks come from about 10% of users, and they're not the users with money.


I find it's often easier to find out what a company does by doing a quick Google search, than to figure it out from their website.


Me too. If the company is notable enough to have a Wikipedia page, usually the article's first paragraph tells you what you want to know of the company much better than its landing and About page.


When it comes to 'landing pages' (where describing the purpose of a company or product is the goal), I think the problem is primarily that it's just really hard to do right, content-wise. The visual design is at most a secondary problem.

A more general-purpose home page has it's challenges, of course, but often it's really just about showing something pretty and guiding users to pages such as 'pricing', 'buy/shop', 'contact', 'about us', etc.

A landing page, on the other hand, is basically the same as creating an ad or a commercial. You have a limited time to 'sell' something, and the fact that you need a page for it means that it's not immediately obvious what you're selling. You have to write ad copy, consider the visuals, target audience, selling points, etc. This is much more difficult than just having a few pages that do very specific things, and a home page that points to them.


A few days ago I wanted to check pricing/features of linode, so I googled linode and clicked on the first link:

http://welcome.linode.com/features/

This gave me 0% of what I wanted and no way to get there, I was confused before I realized it was just a glorified shitty landing page.

Fuck them for trying to scam me into creating an account and making me waste my time, I thought.


Finding out what they do is a fairly unusual need though, right? When I look up a company website (rarely) I'm not looking to find out what they do, typically. My use cases are something like: I want to order something, I want info on a specific product they sell, I want support for something that has gone wrong, or rarely I may be looking for info on working there. I typically know what they do before going to their site, otherwise I wouldn't be there in the first place.


In fairness though, whilst people's needs when visiting a company homepage vary, they're almost never "admire almost-full-screen header image, read bullet points beneath 3 icons selected more for layout purposes than because they convey the most useful information" which is what the design trend discussed in the article optimises for.

A side effect of the current design trend is that navigating to a specific piece of information, or seeing what's changed usually takes another click or a lot more scrolling precisely because the actual products and support contacts are relegated to a lower priority than the full screen "We make software (and have good taste in stock photos)" message.


If mentioned style works is simple, and represents/introduces product/service well, then why not. What annoys me is when designers/developers over do it, e.g. scroll hijacking, lots of heavy JS which introduces horrible lag, and unnecessary pop which ruins user experience.

Sorry, but `novolume.co.uk` is stepping into the the category of over doing it.

Huge, and super low contrast arrow buttons to switch articles. Why?

Italic serif slim and narrow font, from which my head hurts, eyes are twitching and is not readable (and some characters are unrecognisable, e.g. '&'). AFAIK, serif font is more readable then sans-serif, but this is not the case.

Custom scroll bar, why the hell do you need to replicate a perfect native widget my browser has (and this seems to be a new trend, probably replacing scroll hijacking)?

Crazy tilted, on hover shape and colour changing (and low-res) social buttons, why make it so complicated?

At least `novolume.co.uk` loads and renders fast, is responsive and does not have lagging UI.


He's even got a little follow up on what happened after he posted his content:

http://www.novolume.co.uk/blog/stolen-success/


>At times I think back to when websites were produced in Flash. For all its downfalls (and there were a lot) one thing was always true. Flash sites rarely looked the same.

This is the take away line. There's a reason why we now have beautiful looking websites to a fairly uniform standard and that after the 2000s, the usage of Flash on Web sites declined.

The fact that "all websites look the same" should be celebrated in as much that we've found a formula that is practical for consuming content and for the most part, works.


He's right that most bootstrapped startup websites look the same, because they don't have designers on their team, their founders aren't trained in design, and they don't have the money or time to really flesh out the design. They just follow easy examples that are passable or in vogue. Or worse, maybe they just buy a template.

But OP is wrong once you talk about startups that get money. I mean for some well known ones, just look at Stripe, Mattermark, Branient, Mixpanel, Filepicker, Buildzoom... these sites aren't the same at all. If you spend time studying the design of hundreds of YC startups you'll see what I mean... almost to the point where I wonder if YC specifically instructs their startups not to copy other YC startups.


Those you listed all look like the layout in the article.


After reading the comments the debate seems to be creativity vs utility. There has to be a balance between the two. Acknowledge what works best now and then adjust when something better comes along.

With that said, specifically in websites, I think utility should come as a first priority. If your doing a band or artist website I can see bumping up the creativity factor though.


I found this on Intercoms blog post entitled "Some Things can't be Wireframed". This picture reflects the meta design of many websites. https://blog.intercom.io/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/SquareSp...

We've arrived with this design from years of design evolution and no one person is responsible. All products seem to ultimately converge on some optimal universal archetype. Websites, books and radio towers are no different in this sense. The same will be true of mobile Apps someday but I don't think its the case at the moment.

https://blog.intercom.io/things-cant-wireframed/


As in "All the books looks the same"? I see nothing wrong with finding optimal ways to present information.


So in summary, most websites have settled on a design with:

- Headline / key attention-grab in the most visible size possible

- Subhead / attention -> interest converter right below that

- Attractive visual element providing emotional context occupying as much screenspace as possible

- Benefits propositions right below those, exactly where you'd expect them to be if you're familiar with a Web browser

Sounds like a damn good approach to me. I mean, I'd be happy to see an even more efficient design that measurably increased conversion rates for most products, but if there's nothing currently out there, I'm OK with the state of the art :)


All websites should look the same, but they don't. Sadly. It's all just information in some kind of format. A video as an mp4 or some text as... well text in whatever way your machine stores it, but mixed with a bunch of irrelevant other text.

But then there is "design" and then you get stuff like inconsistent search, inconsistent site layout, you never know where to look, what to look for, you miss things because they are placed somewhere where you are not used to look. It's a mess.

All websites should look the same.


All startup websites look the same. They all use this template because it perfectly addresses their goals (grab your attention, explain a new kind of product, convince you to sign up) while also being familiar and repeatable. That doesn't concern or surprise me.

Other kinds of web page with a standard design style include: shopfronts, forums and Q&A sites, search engine result pages, shopping carts, calendar apps, video sharing sites.

Trying to look irregular just for the sake of it is bad.


>Trying to look irregular just for the sake of it is bad.

Looking irregular because your designer can ... actually design is good. Looking irregular because there's a better way to present your site to the public is good.


I agree. But startups shouldn't be expected to do this. Startups are experiments; you want to quickly determine if there's a market for the product (and fail fast if not, so you can alter the product or move onto something new). Being conservative with design is the perfect approach for this. If you experiment with unproven layouts, and it fails, how do you know if the problem was the product or your layout?

Interactive new stories, artists' portfolios, design agency websites, web apps, and websites that are themselves art - these are all good places to push boundaries in design. Not startup product promo pages.


It so happened I was given 5 different pens over a course of a week. Each pen had a different interface twist, pull, slide, press, not one was of the traditional variety of clicking the top. The following week I had to go to the bank to sign something. The banker handed me a pen, I pulled, twisted, pushed, and could not figure it out then I realized it was of the tradituinal variety, and sheepishly clicked the top.


I think it's important to not mess with the customers mental model. In particular the shopping cart pattern was created over a period of time to make the eCommerce user experience as frictionless as possible. So when someone wants to get through the cart, you would want as few surprises for the customer as possible. The hamburger icon is a great example of how a UX pattern has taken a long time to filter down into the the collective mindset of users... "oh.. this is the menu". I still get clients asking when the funny stack of lines are and end up adding "Menu" right next to the icon. So my question is this: is it safe to try new things, or is it better to stick with existing patterns we know work? Or is there a blend of both? Is it better to let larger operations (Facebook, Google, Apple etc) to forge the way with mass assimilation of UX patterns? I do think my first instinct is right (first sentence), but I would love to know the experiences of other UX people about integrating new and fresh UX patterns.


Great comment. I'm finding it one answer of your ? To be more and more a "depends on your project."

I do theoretically find a website to be a form of "artistic expression" but unlike most other medium, there is a technically "right" few ways and many "wrong" ways to "implement" your art. When you see a website posted here that takes a bit of artistic liberty in its design, you will undoubtedly have some HN commenters criticize the way they did such and such.

Despite the fact the page load time is only affected by one millisecond, that "incorrect" implementation is reason enough for some to trash the designer and deem his "solution" inadequate.

What we then see is a world full of TALENTED designers often too afraid to try something new.

But, isn't that the point of art? It's meant to be polarizing.

This is just personal opinion, but I'm finding it more and more necessary for the designer of the modern web to have multiple, concurrent projects as opposed to completing one project and moving on to the next.

Currently I'm working on an athletics site which uses your now "bread and butter" design which the OP gripes on, but I'm also working on a payment web app which has a design that harkens to someone filling out a clipboard.

I've just this week also accepted a project to showcase a fashion designers portfolio, and I'm swinging for far left field on that one.

If I was not working on these projects concurrently, I would not have learned that each design has advantages and disadvantages, and I would be pidgeonholing myself if I didn't give myself room to fail

We are all still learning and growing in web development.

And our consumers are growing too. One interesting thing you mentioned is that users are steadily growing more accustomed to the hamburger button - a quick google search will tell you that the Hamburger wasn't so tasty in AB testing, however, users learn. I've been a part of a reason site redesign which found the extra click of a dropdown menu was better liked (and had more click through) than the link bar, despite our demographic was relatively older users!

And The hamburger menu is a great case study as it has become commonplace in modern design. You could go with the triple bar, or do Apple's approach of a double bar that rotates into an "X" ( https://apple.com ), or you could do Google's three circles arranged vertically in their mobile Chrome browser, but the concept is essentially the same.

Now, there are very talented developers on HN that despise the hamburger, and perhaps rightfully so, but you often hear crickets when an alternative is proposed. Certainly the tabbed interface at the bottom with a "More" button works, but it doesn't work for every case.

So sure, you will have some projects where you have to go with what is known, but try some other projects to challenge a different approach out of you to build up your chops.



Nytimes.com Brookings.edu Reddit.com JustinBiebermusic.com Facebook.com Spotify.com Google.com

Websites Fall into functional categories. Sites within a given category look the same. Sites about a product need a powerful visual "grabber" element that communicates key brand points along with their name, then they need to provide key informational points on am easy to digest manner, often segregating the audience by interest. The big banner, three subtopics layout is a popular way to achieve this.

But not all websites are about introducing a product. Some are about getting immediate social interaction. Some are about exposing deep information in a set of categories. Some are about hierarchical display of the newest possible information. They don't tend to use the banner/three subheadings layout.


I believe it's a good thing. When websites follow some kind of blueprints it makes it a lot easier for the user since they can recognize it. The negative side is of course that it might slow innovation, although slow isn't always bad.


Who cares about the looks, really? The looks are there just to present the content, in a way that fits all the devices that are used to view it.

Sure, you can do some artsyfantsy pantsy stuff now and then, but then again, it's about the content too, just that the whole artsy website is the content.

And this guy has the most generic looking blog structure also, so why is he blaming the guilt on somebody else. I'm so glad I don't have to go through these "designed just because design" flash websites anymore and try to figure out different structures for each page.


Most organizations pick designs based on competitor research. Sometimes there's a project manager in the middle to preach ux. Either way the site comes out like the rest, and at times its usable


Definitely prefer that layout compared to the one used on novolume.co.uk.


All "normal" stairs, windows, roofs, tables, chairs look the same. There are good reasons for stable architectural patterns. There are good reasons for web design patterns too. Go back to the 90's and early 00's. There were so many different styles. A few won and became the ancestors of today's styles. Many more lost and got extinct. Sure, there are other styles that nobody thought about that are better than what we have today. They'll get created from time to time, copied and refined.


The designer seems to be harking back to a time when pretty much the only browser was one on a laptop and you could reliably assume 764pixel width.

These days, you have no idea what is browsing your website and more than likely it is somebody on a phone. So priorities change.

Content makers want their message in front of as many people as possible. To achieve this, you make it work on a small screen. This brings good design constraints and stops design for the sake of design.


Let's make website like architects make buildings. It's more important to be original than beautiful or functional. Let's put the navigation menus at the bottom of the page and the disclaimer at the top. Let's randomize the order of the links and elements so that every user has a unique and original experience on every visit. In fact why use english? That's so boring. Let's use hieroglyph!


> Let's use hieroglyph!

https://fortawesome.github.io/Font-Awesome/ I get that your comment was a joke (clearly) but there is a nugget of truth in it.


I've often thought that porting a game engine to the browser with a suitably robust object library and hyper-intuitive developer interface would be just what is needed to jump-start a move away from rectangles and columns. And doubly so now that VR is about to hit its stride. I want what "The Lawnmower Man" promised me, dang it!


Most websites are aweful. My monitor is almost 2000 pixels wide and they insist in packing their whole text into about a 10cm little strip of it. I see so many websites that want me to read about 5 words in a row when there is space for about 30 if they weren't too lazy to use the whole screen.

I guess they prefer arty over practical.


The internet is a giant A/B test. If something works, people adopt it. Once it stops working, people move on to what works then. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

I'm starting to think that the tech community at large doesn't understand that it's also part of humanity, and thus falls to the same cognitive traps as the rest of society.


A Website needs to convey an idea in the most convenient form possible. Due to a rise in smartphones, most websites have trended towards a mobile-first layout - scroll to view the entire content without any redirects between multiple pages. I would be interested to see a professional designer's perspective on this.


>Generic wins out every time.

Frankly, unless you are a company where design differentiation is paramount, it is much safer to do what everyone else is doing and be "good enough".

It's cheaper, faster, and possibly on average better for visitors to glean the messages you want them to hear, compared to more daring designs.


"All these pants have 3 holes, some sort of fastening/cinching mechanism, and the layout's basically the same in each case!"


The good side of this is that users, not hackers, can feel conmfortably when they deel with something known and predictable.


It is a current design trend, it will be different in a few years just as it was different a few years ago.


I would say, this is good part, common elements, creativity is in the content or other solutions.


All websites look the same because they rely on 'best practices'. If you have a 'better practice' go ahead and implement it, thus inspiring the best practices to come.

That's how the human world evolves, slowly blending the old with the new.


A lot of posts here are mixing "look the same" with "function the same". Familiarity is fine when it comes to function but to look the same is boring.




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