Challenging the Web Gods and the Status-Quo

Welcome to our website! We hope you enjoy the slick image covering the entire screen. See the brightly colored call-to-action button? Yeah, that’s right, the Sunbaked Terracotta one. Go ahead and click it. It takes you to another page with expanded and redundant information. But don’t worry, if you miss the button there are six other ways to access the page with redundant information. And if you’ve completely lost your mind, scroll down and the redundant information is at the bottom.

Does this sound like just about every website you visit? Do we really need sliders or landing pages? They look nice but what do they convey besides photographic skill? Do we need menus? Does every website need a menu? Is there a better way to navigate? Beyond housing copyright information, do we even need footers? Has anyone ever spend a significant amount of time in the footer? I haven’t. Besides when I’m developing websites, I can’t remember the last time I looked at a footer.

Most websites have a header and menu followed by a slider (or cover image) where a call-to-action button takes you to another page already accessible through the menu. Below the slider, in many cases, are three or four trendy icons that take you, again, to pages already accessible through the menu. After (or sometimes before) you’ll usually find info about the website, which is a repeat of the “about” page which is also accessible through the menu. Finally, in the footer we encounter yet another menu along with a number of repeating links, all accessible through any one of the many menus and icons.

I’m guilty of designing this way too but why do so many websites treat us like idiots? This is the equivalent of the 1:00 a.m. infomercial where every ten seconds the name of the product and phone number flashes across the screen followed by the phone number, followed by the phone number, followed by the name of the product, and ended with the phone number. This madness must stop. We’ve been forced to work within a specific structure with very little allowance for true innovation. We need to burn the palace down and rebuild from scratch. And I’m not talking about “Hey, let’s put the menu on the LEFT SIDE instead of at the top!” I’m talking about overhauling the basic building blocks of how we present content on the web and stop pretending like <header>, <nav>, <section>, and <footer> were handed down from an omniscient web Being. Sure, design has changed immensely since the 1990s with images, typography, fullscreen design, etc., but the basic concepts haven’t changed much.

In the early 20th century, an art movement called Dadaism, or the anti-art movement, came along and challenged the meaning of art and everything it stood for. Years later, before abstract expressionism (Pollock, Kooning, Gorky), artists mostly represented form, whether it be a person, building, landscape, etc. They varied greatly but it wasn’t until someone came along and said, “Let’s throw some paint at the canvas and see how it looks!” that art was truly turned on its head. Web design has not had their dadaism/abstract expressionism moment yet. I propose a movement, maybe we’ll call it the Anti-Web movement, to break out of this cycle and create completely unique concepts that challenge the norm and throw some paint at the canvas … or computer screen.

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