Reply to “Minimal design is one thing but brutalist, raw sites are often visually jarring…”

/ Commentary

Colin writes on brutalism in web design:

This site is predominantly text (with the occasional image, video or audio file) but there are some JavaScript flourishes and features to give things a little movement and character… what harm are they doing beyond adding just a few kB to the total payload?

Which is right. I’ve been down the brutalist/minimalist rabbit hole many times, and, while fun, it’s pretty pointless. In the scheme of things, serving pages of 100kb probably makes you lighter than 95% of the rest of the web – adding 32kb of minimised, gzipped jquery is not a crime. (Incidentally, using jquery is more efficient than React, Angular et al.)

Where does web design as a discipline sit alongside architecture, furniture design, landscape design etc? I think there’s a relatively banal interpretation of brutalism which produces kitsch looking websites that make a nod to how brutalist architecture can jar – I think this is what Colin is objecting to. But viewing brutalism as an approach to designing websites could be more fruitful, as the web’s materials are inherently fluid, responsive, distributable and plastic. Working with the web’s grain could help produce more accessible web pages. What aesthetic – if any – would that approach result in?

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