A Regression in Taste

(Might as well be named The Perils of Problogging, Part II.)

Here’s a little exercise. Try visiting the sites below. Doesn’t have to be all of them. Just be click-happy enough to notice a pattern.

Notice anything? Anything at all? Anything particularly sparkly and animated and tacky?

(Fair warning: Skip the rest of this post if you absolutely understand the dilemma behind my ranting.)

I can overlook how the page elements scattered all over the place require visitors to scroll horizontally aside from vertically (which, for your information, is a usability nightmare unless done correctly and on purpose). Let’s skip that. Perhaps they got their measurements wrong. Or are still struggling with their CSS lessons.

I can also overlook how the site completely lacks color sense but is filled to the brim with cute cartoon characters (mostly Disney ones). Perhaps they wanted to be more likeable. And they had no color palette in mind so they were just going with the flow.

I can also overlook how the ads are badly placed (see horizontal scrolling above) and there are too many social bookmarking chicklets in the footer. Perhaps they were going to smack stuff on first, think later.

But I cannot, for the life of me, understand why animated GIF images have made their way back into contemporary web design and are being used on these blogs. Seeing them on MySpace and Friendster was bad enough; all sane people could do was sigh, walk away, and avoid those pages for the rest of their online lives because all people have a right to express themselves. That’s what social networking sites are for. (Virb is trying to change that; let’s see if it succeeds.)

What are their respective target markets anyway? Mothers? Or kids? I’m sure more than half of the blogs above were meant for moms. Are older people fonder of sparkling GIFs now? Or are they trying to be as cutesyimmature as their teenage daughters on MySpace?

This deterioration in taste, professionalism, and credibility because of these silly, sparkling sprites has become a “trend” or “formula” (as if it were design at all!) in these ten blogs. And counting. These sites happen to have advertisements and a link to some kind of blog network, which can only point us to the worst speculations. There’s an organization behind all these blogs. And they can keep on churning out these horrible creations for those who have no idea what a well-designed blog looks like and only care about how to make money from home. (Believe me, if you’re desperate for money, you’ll click and sign up for anything. Most people can’t tell if a piece of software is spyware or if an email is a scam.)

To top it all off, these blogs are using WordPress. You’d think that with the abundance of well-designed WP themes out there, the makers of these ten blogs would take a hint. But noooo. This is the dark side of the long tail, indeed.

You might think none of this should matter because “content is king” anyway. I believe in great content but I also believe in a presentable blog. Some people bloggers should be responsible for their content. I believe bloggers should also be responsible for their design.

Please stop the glittering animated GIF craze already.

Hi! Thanks for stopping by ★

Design + code + words for a better web, made in the Philippines by Sophia Lucero.