Everything old
April 20, 2000 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Everything old is new again. I ranted on this a little in my blog, but here is the crux: why does something that looks like a Commodore 8-bit demo program earn respect as a good web design? The font is even a direct lift of the 64's built-in font. I find it kind of funny that we're trying to duplicate stuff that was done well over a decade ago, but because it's on the web, it's good design.
posted by hijinx (15 comments total)
Good design is questionable...but it's interesting.
posted by milhous at 10:38 AM on April 20, 2000

Well, I don't think anyone said it was good web design (though I have seen this link on a few sites). But stuff like this happens in places other than web design. 20 years ago, Lava lamps were cool, 10 years ago everyone thought they sucked, now everyone has one again. Don't ask me why, but people seem to like to bring back ideas that are decades old.
posted by vitaflo at 10:57 AM on April 20, 2000

Sorry hijinx, but I think this is pretty niffty. And the Commodore part is rather small compared to the whole. You would prefer that it was illegal for designers to use "retro" in their stuff?

And interestingly the whole thing loads faster than your homepage.

"I loved my 64, I really did. But this has been done before, and done well."

This is done well. Nice integration. I love the way they blew up the font. It's not something to rave about, but I think the C64 integration is clever. Just my $0.02.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2000

No, I don't think it should be "illegal" for designers to use retro; rather, I've seen this particular design called "good" elsewhere and - the key - treated as something new. I know I've seen it down back on the 64 in almost the exact same fashion.

And yeah, my homepage loads slowly... but I don't see what that has to do with anything.
posted by hijinx at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2000

Opinions are like assholes, and you're entitled to yours, but just because you don't see something as being good design, that doesn't mean it isn't.
My personal opinion? I think it's one of the most innovative sites I've seen in a long time. That mouseOver effect is pretty darn cool.
posted by lizardboy at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2000

Then what constitutes "good design"? Is it a personal, internal question? Or is it when it's quantified by other people? Or both?

I'm curious.
posted by hijinx at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2000

>Then what constitutes "good design"?

I'm trying to answer that very question today on my site. So far, design seems to be all about "communication".
posted by jkottke at 1:54 PM on April 20, 2000

"my homepage loads slowly... but I don't see what that has to do with anything."

It's fast. So it gets cool points for design, and cool points for execution. It probably loads faster than my homepage. Nothing personal.

Then what constitutes "good design"?

Unless a person is claiming to be an expert, then it's all personal. But when you post personal opinion on the Internet, it's now your public opinion. At which point the whole issue of whether it's "good" or not goes right out the window. These debates always degenerate into pissy little slap fights.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:06 PM on April 20, 2000

I've always thought that DESIGN, is problem solving. It's not so simple as "this website is good, this one is bad". So to judge soulwax, you have to understand the intentions of the site. If you're challenged by a website's content, e-mail the author and find out more. The C64 references are just the form and the artifact. Let's not confuse form and artifact with DESIGN. Does anyone notice (or examine) CONTENT anymore?
posted by p2 at 2:24 PM on April 20, 2000

Heh, it's funny how this ties into life lately, as throughout most of my classes yesterday we were debating content v. design. We came to the conclusion that both will attract a different type of visitor... but content, in the end, almost always wins. Or should win, rather.

But here I go and post my opinion and questions on a site based solely on its design!

posted by hijinx at 2:41 PM on April 20, 2000

Good webdesign is about the user.
On a personal site you can take liberties with this somewhat. On my site, I have some DHTML that some people find to be annoying, but at the same time, the navigation is easy understand and use, and the site loads relatively quickly.

On a mainstream commercial site, it's all about the user. People might be busy, and not want to see pointless stuff. People may just want to do their business onsite, and leave. And of course you have the thorny issue of cross platform / browser design - you must cater for everyone.
All these are user issues, and if you don't cater to them, you're gonna cut off a portion of your audience.

Just my opinion.
posted by tomcosgrave at 6:26 PM on April 20, 2000

Innovative and clever use of Flash. I don't think it's good design in the usability sense, but it's not gunning for that award by a long shot.

What the hey is your problem with perceived similarity to the graphics capabilities of the C64? I don't recall that the C64 was web-addressable. But in any case, the similarity is deliberate. Being interesting is all about messing with the user's expectations. So it's a little electro-retro. Some of the handsomest design work being done today (e.g. Derek's Blogger home page) is retro in entirely different ways. You could easily say that design would have looked good on a 50s album cover, and have your snit over that.
posted by dhartung at 6:28 PM on April 20, 2000

no i would argue that you judged the site solely on it's aesthetic, it's artifact, it's form. you can not argue content v. design, because true DESIGN is the handling and shaping of the content. what you were debating was content v. graphic form. you can't have design without content. designers shape the content, they give it the form that best supports and enhances the content. remember this from school? --> form follows function...or in the case of new media: form follows performance.
posted by p2 at 6:29 PM on April 20, 2000

The fact of the matter is, the band Soulwax kicks ass. Thats all there is too it, so they can use whatever damned design they want :). Check them out.
posted by jeffknox at 7:59 PM on April 20, 2000

That type of thing is a novelty to me, I think it's fun to look at, fun to develop, but of no function. So if that is an example only of form despite content, function, or audiance, then so be it. Perhaps it's more fitting to call things such as this art rather than web design. I hope that made sense...
posted by Dean_Paxton at 8:35 PM on April 20, 2000

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