The legendary Lance Arthur, missing in action from the web scene for half a decade now (he was spending much of that time with some complicated email service scheme I don’t understand and more recently has been helping to launch Squarespace, the magazine/community CMS Christina Wodtke and company have productized via the revamped Box and Arrows ‘zine), is back and in his inimitably way he makes it clear that he’s not happy with the current state of web design:
Ugly may be too strong a word, actually. MySpace is ugly. Butt ugly. Bufugly. Google is simple. YouTube is somewhere in-between. And you may want to point at them — Google in particular — and argue that it is designed, and designed perfectly. Otherwise it wouldn’t be the success that it is, and I wouldn’t necessarily argue the point, other than to say that if I were a competitor, I wouldn’t do it the same way because if you’re trying to differentiate yourself from someone else, you don’t do it by looking exactly like them.
There are definite differences between the sites on the attainment of their goal, but they all have the exact same goal in mind and it is the same goal as any other public web site, and that’s to get and keep the attention of as many people as possible.
Perhaps death is too strong a word, maybe it’s merely in a coma. Maybe the pastelization and rounded-corner floaty bits signals a tidal change that there’s no recovering from, maybe that look that’s becoming so damned prevalent everyone one looks is merely how the web is going to loo because people like it and it lends a sameness to everything that accompanies a kind of comfort factor that everyone, seemingly, has been wanting all along but never managed to find.