1. 57
    1. 23

      Basically what the web was before the recent trend of “minimalism” where links and buttons look like text, all text is light gray on light gray background, nothing work without JavaScript enabled, etc.

      If they have to call this “new” trend “brutalism”, why not. I’d call that common sense.

      1. 6

        the first computer programs with mainstream success were word processors.

        The early web was filled with “huge images to do designs that HTML doesn’t support”, and Flash existed for a reason. People have always tried to lay stuff out in different ways

        The brutalist web might have always existed in a certain subset of the web, but it stopped being the web ever since image tags and tables were a thing.

      2. 5

        It’s the only way to sell it. And if re-branding the price, I’d take it.

        1. 6

          problem is people will create the same design but make it with 10 layers of css and javascript to slow it down.

    2. 17

      The term “brutalist” for web design has been recently coined and seems to have taken on two meanings. One definition is design that highlights the essential nature of the web (links, buttons, navigation), as in the website linked in this post. The other definition of “brutalist” web design seems to be any design that goes against “minimalism” and “simplicity” advocated by corporate websites - think Bootstrap-themed websites. In a way, they are going against “usability” as dogma. An archive of websites conforming to the second definition is here. http://brutalistwebsites.com/

      1. 5

        There’s a good article called Brutalism and Antidesign that tackles these two definitions, and argues that brutalism only really applies to the first one.

    3. 11

      I think I’ll start linking to this site instead of http://bettermotherfuckingwebsite.com/.

    4. 10

      I like that the author is only attempting to formalize a style, rather than offer an obnoxious opinion. There’s a use for these designs, but not every website needs to have such a design, nor would I want the web to be chock full of such websites.

      Spending a couple weeks in Albany, NY, where much of the architecture was inspired by brutalism, is enough to appreciate the variety of architectures across different cities.

      Every now and again it’s nice to stumble across a http://lingscars.com

    5. 6

      I agree with every word of this. It’s good to have a suitable label that nicely encapsulates the concept.

      I would like to see some examples. I would say that https://www.gov.uk/ would be one of the best examples of brutalist web design. What do you think?

      1. 3

        I was worried that I clicked into a spam site when I visited it!

      2. 3

        Like the sibling comment, I, too, had my “parked domain” flags triggered. However, the actual practice of using the gov.uk constellation of websites is fantastic. Very easy to use.

        The login.gov stuff and related things in the US are catching up to the usability of the UK sites.

        1. 2

          Like the sibling comment, I, too, had my “parked domain” flags triggered.

          I agree, but once you scroll down it improves a lot. Nice site.

    6. 6

      I fully agree with this mostly due to accessibility. I find that more and more websites are harder to read and navigate.

      However for some problems I dont have solutions either, without bringing in some javascript, or changing browser internals:

      • the whole endless scroll concept works well for things like real time chat interfaces, but i dont think you can express it with html alone
      • a lot of things like deferred loading of images, which is done in javascript to speed up loading could probably be done by the browser
      • if the browser would let me do with frames what my window manager does with windows …

      Also I suspect people stress over custom design so much because the default stylesheet for the browser actually looks like crap.

      1. 3

        I agree with this. A default stylesheet with better typography would do a lot to reduce the appeal of css frameworks.

        A lot of the reasonable and valid use-cases for javascript probably ought to be moved into html attributes and the browser – things like “on click make a POST request and replace this element with the response body if it succeeds”. Kind of a “pave the cowpaths” approach that would allow dynamic front-ends without running arbitrary untrusted code on the client.

        1. 1

          “on click make a POST request and replace this element with the response body if it succeeds”.

          You can actually do that with a target attribute on the form going toward an iframe. It isn’t exactly the same but you can make it work.

    7. 5

      A long time ago, when I first started learning HTML and CSS I read a book that said, “there are a lot of tools available to make a fancy website but it’s all for nothing if your content is shallow or non-existant.” And then a little while later when Google became popular, SEO became a thing and at the time, the best SEO strategy was: just have good content.

      I’ve ranted about this before: I feel like the web and apps in general have been trending toward form over function for a good long while. One of my biggest annoyances are interfaces where you can’t tell what the fuck you can click on to do something. It’s nice to see someone agrees with me. The parts of a page or app that can be interacted with should look obviously different than those that cannot. “Flat Design” wasn’t the first philosophy to do this but it made it popular.

    8. 3

      Brutalism as an architectonic style is disgusting and oppressive as shit (intentionally). I spent quite a bit of time in a brutalist building, I felt like shit. Like how did intentional hostility ever become a trend?

      1. 10

        While the term certainly originates from concrete, the author is not trying to advocate making websites out of concrete (figuratively). I think the main point can be seen in the paragraph mentioning Truth to Materials. That is, don’t try to hide what the structure is made out of - and in the case of a website it is a hypertext document.

        This website could be seen in that light. It is very minimally styled and operates exactly how the elements of the interface should (be expected to). The points of interaction are very clear.

        The styling doesn’t even have to be minimal, but there is certainly a minimalism implied.

      2. 9

        I respect your opinion, but I personally really enjoy brutalist architecture. I like the minimalism and utilitarian simplicity of the concrete exteriors, and I like how the style emphasizes the structure of the buildings.

        1. 2

          I think if you added a splash of color it would make the environment much more enjoyable while still embracing the pragmatism and the seriousness.

      3. 5

        It isn’t intentionally being oppressive or hostile. It represents pragmatism, modernity, and moral seriousness. However it doesn’t take a large logical jump to realize that pragmatism, modernity, and moral seriousness could feel oppressive. In the same way to the architects who designed brutalism, the indulgent designs of 1930’s-1940’s might feel like a spit in the face if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Neither were trying to hurt anyone, yet here we are.

        1. 3

          I consider the 1930s designs (as can be seen in shows such as Poirot) to be rather elegant styling. But I also see the pragmatism that was prompted with the war shortages.

          I am not a great fan of giant concrete structures that have no accommodation for natural lighting, but I also dislike the “glass monstrosities” that have been built after brutalist designs.

          I find myself respecting the exterior of some of the brick buildings of the 19th Century and possibly early 20th. Western University in London Canada has many buildings with that style.

          Some of the updates done to the Renaissance Center in Detroit have mitigated some of the problems with Brutalist - ironically with a lot of glass.

        2. 2

          This might be true of Brutalism specifically, but (at least some) modern (“Modern”, “Post-modern”, etc.) architecture is deliberately hostile.

      4. 3

        I found this article on that very topic pretty interesting.

      5. 2

        In my home town, the public library and civic center (pool, gymnasium) are brutalist. It was really quite lovely. Especially the library was extremely cozy on the inside, with big open spaces with tables and little nooks with comfortable chairs.

      6. 1

        My pet theory is that brutalism is a style that looks good in black-and-white photographs at the extent of looking good in real life. So it was successful in a time period when architects were judged mainly on black-and-white photographs of their buildings.

    9. 2
      p {
          text-align: justify;
          text-indent: 1.5em;

      Voilà, much better to read!

      1. 1

        Does justified text in CSS still look awful? Last time I used it (probably a year ago) it produced massive gaps between words on some lines, and tiny gaps on others.

        E: I guess this is just personal preference, but it feels like it’s easier to keep my position when reading with a ragged right edge.

        1. 1

          Usually books and papers all use justified text and the good vertical and horizontal spacing at the start and between paragraphs so I presume if the article is quite big with long paragraphs it would be easier to follow.