Guidelines for brutalist web design


Originally published at:


As a user, I vastly prefer to scroll rather than click through pages. I don’t think advertisers will agree, though.



(nine character minimum, BOOOOO!)


I find the connection of these guidelines to Brutalism and architecture in general to be questionable. I guess no one would read it if it had a name that made more sense?

From Wikipedia:

Does that sound like these guidelines? Not especially. At most, there is a moral imperative in these guidelines to not use dark patterns, but that is not original to “Brutalist web design.” I think the author is trying too hard to make his ideas about web design appear to be something they aren’t.

That said, there are points in these guidelines that all web designers should take note of.


It also should be about giving visitors clear information with as little fuss and muss as possible. If you are you performing arts organization I want to know who is performing what, when. If you are a restaurant I want to see your menu, with prices. What I am not interested in is your bullshit branding.


I’m a sucker for the Helvetica headings. The body text defaults to Times New Roman on my system, which I prefer to Calisto. Maybe one too many point sizes? My graphic design teacher preached three or fewer on a page, and no more than two fonts.

As a side note, the documentary “Helvetica” is great if you’re into that sort of thing.


And this is why I read boingboing in blog view instead of whatever the current “magazine-ish” design is.


I also want to see your hours of operation. Pet peeve of mine.


I’m all for the semantic Web, standards compliance, and clean or minimalist design. I read BoingBoing articles via my RSS reader and regularly use Pocket to read articles stripped of all the cruft.

That said, it would be a daunting challenge to implement this on a wide scale at this stage in the Web’s history. The task would be made more difficult by the fact that most brutalist Web sites, like most Brutalist buildings, would be ugly and unfriendly (if not outright hostile) to the humans who have to spend time in and around them.


I also don’t want to load a damned poorly composed and massive PDF to see the menu, especially if there are no prices on it.

Or at least get them right. A restaurant near me opened up recently that I was interested in but that’s been constantly closed during hours posted on both their Google Business entry and their storefront. I’ve given up on them, mostly because that level of incompetence means they’ll be out of business within the year.





Also phone number, address, and business hours. Put this data on every page! Don’t make me navigate to the “Location” page.


I would have thought that Brutalist web design would advocate doing everything in JavaScript, because design should be as functional as possible.


I get irrationally angry whenever I see that stupid front page design. BoingBoing as been a blog since early 2000-2001(?) why the f’ would they mess with it?

Whoever decided that scrolling back until you’ve run across something you seen before was the wrong way to use a web site or service needs to be taken out back and beaten. I don’t care if it’s because of “graphic design” or a stupid algorithms to “increase engagement.” It’s pants on head stupid and it needs to stop.


I love this, except the hyperlink style is evidence against “underline hyperlinks” maxim. The hyperlink underline rendering reads as hy.perlinks.


Lol, I completely forgot the front page design still existed.


I think the moral seriousness implicit in web brutalism is left implicit here, but is ready to be assumed in fuller form. Web brutalism as the design vanguard of the general backlash against hostile and invasive tracking, bloated design, janky front-end frameworks, misbehaving ads, social graphing, and contemporary web awfulness in general.


Frankly, *steeples fingers*, blog view is for the weak.


There is also the environmental impact to consider. There is an energy cost to storing, rendering, and transmitting information. One website, on its own, has only a minimal effect. But the billions of web pages out there add up.


On Google maps/places/whatever it’s called, hours are often posted by users rather than the business owner. (Edit; which (at least when I’ve done it) are copied from their store front hours.)