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This is a motherfucking website. And it’s fucking not completely perfect (twentyoheight.wordpress.com)
30 points by maxspeicher on July 12, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments

I think the criticisms on this site are fundamentally wrong-headed. The original motherfucking website is reflowable, lightweight text that conveys everything it needs to. Navigation doesn't need to be "fixed to the viewport", and lines don't need to be 66 characters long.

If every website were designed like the "motherfucking website", I could design a "browsing theme" where all lines were 66 characters long. If there were some navigation metadata in there, I could theme the browser to show that as a viewport at the top. I could change the aesthetics to the user's preference.

Not that there's anything that can be done about it from this equilibrium, but I think the problem is that people got it in their head that they should be able to control how users view their sites, and that's wrong. If you consider markup to be metadata about how your data should be displayed, then you shouldn't have to do any QA testing or cross-device testing, because the onus of design would be on the browser. You'd choose a browser that displays websites the way you like to see them. Everything would be automatically 100% cross-platform and accessible, because you're not trying to use markup to force a specific way of viewing your site.

Honestly, the hubris of designers can be amazing. As if aesthetics is a universal. Maybe some people prefer 100 lines of text per line. Maybe some people want to zoom a mobile site. It's so incredibly difficult to specifically create a single (or even adaptive) design that works for blind people, people with every different kind of colorblindness, people using every browser on the market on devices with vastly different screen sizes and resolutions, people with every kind of character set and a million different aesthetic preferences you've never even thought of. And yet it's so easy to just put your content up there with markup suggestions about how it should be displayed and let users choose how they want to see it. They'll do your work for you.

It's not so much the hubris of designers as the economics. Designers bring the print culture with them, where everything published gets visually polished by a human. You don't just dump tagged text from a typewriter.

The web is designed precisely to dump text from a digital typewriter. And the visual design can be universal or customized by a user.

This poses a minor problem because if actually implemented as intended, thousands of designers would be out of work. You'd need very few to make universal text display themes and occasionally improve them. And more complex UIs could be handled with something like bootstrap.

But there are far more people with the print designer mindset, recreating the old world in digital form, then there are visionary designers like Doug Engelbart who wanted to use computers to do new things. And you can't just retrain those people to not spend their lives changing line lengths and text colors to shove ads and make display cases, that's all they know. It's an economics problem.

I understand why designers would want to protect the jobs they currently have, but I personally think that it would actually be better if talented coders and designers were freed up from the [unnecessary] work of creating themes for every website in existence. There's plenty to do in this world that we don't need some of our smartest and best people doing unnecessary work.

Sure but you can't re-allocate workers in a capitalist economy with a paper idea and a signature. You have to convince thousands of people. You have to convince investors to start new companies where new types of workers are doing something new on the web. You probably can't re-educate millions of the current designers, code monkeys, content farmers and clients to do new types of work that has nothing to do with their old work.

There are plenty of these smartest and best people trying startups and they're not really measuring up to what computer pioneers imagined. Seems the best we can do for Engelbart's complex topic discussion systems are Wikipedia, Quora, Reddit and HN.

HN's designer Paul Graham subscribes to Job's idea of simple, minimalist interfaces because they're easy to learn and get users fast. The old school of thought was programs and interfaces would do a lot, took a while to learn, but were worth it in the end. Today we assume only things that are worth learning on a computer are existing job skills. It's a Catch-22 and a hard sell.

For reference

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeSgaJt27PM http://youtu.be/xQx-tuW9A4Q

> If there were some navigation metadata in there, I could theme the browser to show that as a viewport at the top. I could change the aesthetics to the user's preference.

This is the most design-ignorant post I've seen on HN in a long time, and I think this quote really highlights what's wrong with it. No, not all pages have navigation that can be put in some One True Hierarchy metadata style. To take five high-volume sites as example: Facebook, Bank of America, Google Search, Google Docs, and Google Maps all have fundamentally different usage patterns that simply would not work if styled in remotely the same way.

Yes, if all pages were just essays with occasional links (as they were in the 90's), then pages w/o site-provided CSS would be great and you could use user styles for all your customization (FYI, feel free to click View > Page Style > No Style in your menu bar to do this for yourself). Cool, but it's 2014 now, and people expect their websites to be native-competitive applications that allow them to get things done quickly.

> Honestly, the hubris of designers can be amazing. As if aesthetics is a universal.

another choice quote. FYI, design has very little to do with aesthetics; Design is how something works. Aesthetics is just one tool that should help to make clear how something works.

> They'll do your work for you.

No. No they won't. They'll leave your site for one that is easier to understand and use, where they can do as little work as possible to get done what they want to get done. If you disagree, go try to prove it in the marketplace. I think the market has made quite clear what level of design users prefer.

What you're describing is Windows 95 era help files.

Is that such a bad thing? Keep in mind that if everyone used Windows 95 era help files to display their websites, we'd have designers releasing themes for sites.

Hell, if you wanted to keep the current "status quo" where every site has its own theme, you could just bundle sites with themes, and have an option in the browser to "automatically accept per-site themes". At least then you wouldn't be shutting out users with peripheral preferences.

Until you start getting "oops, you don't have our theme you can't view this site properly" prompts and some enterprising spark releases a browser with a bunch of proprietary extensions that give designers more flexibility that suddenly every site WorksBest! with.

See Internet Explorer & Flash.

> However, a website featuring larger amounts of content would require a navigation bar, optimally fixed to the top of the viewport.3 This navigation bar should adapt to smaller screens without device- or resolution-specific break points (= device-agnostic design).

At which point you end up with yet another site that takes up over 1/3 of the viewport with a navigation bar on many phones held in landscape.

For a true minimalist website. Breadcrumbs + an index page should work for most sites.

Or go Wikipedia style with search and in context links.

Instead of a "navigation bar" use a drop-down selection. The standard HTML "select" thing.

Takes minimum space, works great on a mobile phone, you can type the first characters to jump to a certain point in the options, has good accesibility support, etc.

His 3 complaints - linelength, navigation, aesthetics.

If only it was 1994 and people could resize their 'viewport' to get the line length they prefer, instead of having snobby designers force it to be what they value.

>If only it was 1994 and people could resize their 'viewport' to get the line length they prefer, instead of having snobby designers force it to be what they value.

Only it's 2014, and people have 10+ tabs open. They can be bothered to resize the browser size for each and everyone of them. And some prefer the browser to be full screen, etc.

I have far more than a reasonable number of tabs open, and I can tell you I've never encountered that problem. Once I set the width I like, it works for all pages. The only exception I can think of is the odd video site that doesn't fullscreen properly, but watching videos is a bit of a mode switch anyway; it can handle a maximize click.

Reminds me of the GNU documentation - http://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/index.html

I feel like I was taught at one point that the web was supposed to be flat HTML/HTTP and that interactive stuff was supposed to be reserved for applications. Did that used to be a thing?

>An optimally readable line should contain only ~66 characters, which corresponds to ~30 em.1 To reduce the amount of scrolling, this can be augmented with a multi-column layout and pagination.

Err, no, multi-column layout sucks (you have to scroll back to the top to read the next column). And pagination sucks too.

Just make the text take 70 or so characters wide.

I wonder how a website like this would convert if you were selling a product. I imagine if you're selling a web app, where design matters, conversions would be shit. But if you're selling something where it doesn't matter how your website looks? I bet this could convert fantastically.

I guess it depends on your customers, I don't know how many people would be confident putting credit card information into a website like that.

I wish people would learn to fucking swear properly. That fucking title is not completely fucking perfect.


Why would one prefer pagination over scrolling? Is it just about the clicks?

>>Good design is as little design as possible Is there something called 10% design or 100% design?What's little design ?

Reminder that JavaScript frameworks are useless bloat that kill page load times and degrade user experience. Plain HTML/ CSS/ JS already does everything just as easily.

In what other language is it a good idea to compile the entire standard library each time the program is run?

Julia I think :-)

Not exactly true. The standard library is precompiled and the same is worked on for packages.

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