Jason at 37Signals recently posted about how the Drudge Report is “one of the best designed sites on the web.” I just couldn’t let this one go.

It’s a load of bollocks, and one in a stream of “hey, let’s take a widely criticized site, call it awesome, and everyone will praise how witty and insightful we are.” It’s as if everyone thinks they can be hailed as geniuses if they rebel against the norm.

Design is not synonymous with utility, and the Drudge Report fails horribly at both.

Good design? Really?

Good design? Really?

THIS IS WHAT I SEE WHEN I LOAD THE PAGE .

It’s patently absurd to call this good design. from first load, I don’t even know what the page is.

Sites that are successful yet have bad design aren’t necessarily successful BECAUSE of bad design (therefore making it good?), but IN SPITE of. This is the same reason Fox is #1 in viewership despite their utter lack of journalistic integrity, taste, and quality. Fox isn’t #1 because it’s good news, it’s #1 because right-wingers have nowhere else to go. The Drudge Report isn’t popular because of its piss poor design, it’s popular because right-wingers surf it religiously.

The Drudge Report hasn’t changed the design, ever. This could mean that the first design was perfect. It could also mean that Matt Drudge simply doesn’t care. It doesn’t mean that the users love the design… they could be sticking around because no other site has the content they desire.

Let’s move down this point by point

  1. “There are no tricks, no sections, no deep linking, no special technology required. It’s all right there on one page. “But it’s a mess!” you could say. I’d say “it’s straightforward mess.” I wouldn’t underestimate the merit in that.”
  2. There ARE sections… if you can suffer to scroll down far enough. Straightforward = good. Mess = bad. Straightforward + mess = good & bad. Straightforward + non-mess = good & good, i.e., better design.
  3. It’s unique. Certainly. So is every dump I’ve squeezed out of my anus. There’s a REASON the news sites look alike. They WANT to look alike. When you go to CNN .com, without even seeing content, the users say, “oh, this is a news site.” Is it bad to have a news site look like a news site? Saying it’s unique and therefore good is flawed logic – you and i have discussed this before.
  4. It’s important. Drudge isn’t afraid to be noisy. Sure. That’s an appeal of the Drudge Report, and is totally irrelevant to the design. The argument here is for the philosophy of the site, which 37S claims to be good and extraordinary. Fine. Keep the philosophy. Keep a super noisy headline – the site could have top-notch design, and a screaming headline…(get this)… AT THE SAME TIME .
  5. It’s cluttered. It’s messy, and there’s no good flow to the information. “Jason” thinks that constitutes… good design? The design doesn’t “encourage wandering,” it just requires effort to plow through. It’s successful because the users feel that the plowing is worth it. Just because it functions now doesn’t mean it couldn’t be improved. I wonder how many people don’t visit the site for specifically that reason.
  6. Breaking news. Once again, this is a philosophy of the Drudge Report, and not one of the website design. This could be maintained, regardless of design.
  7. One guy can run it. That’s a plus. One guy can also make a myspace page, or a geocities home. That doesn’t make good design, and is more a question of web authoring tools. With tools powerful enough, one guy could nearly run any site on the web. The design could be significantly improved, and still have one guy do it.
  8. No news… once again, Drudge philosophy and concept. Not design. The design is the implementation of the concept, and not having direct info isn’t implementation in this case – it IS the concept.
  9. Sending people away… see above.
  10. It’s fast. That’s definitely a plus. I’ll grant that. However, with a little organization, better fonts, and better layout, the design could be improved without sacrificing speed. It’s cheap. See above. It’s one page. See above.
  11. It makes him a great living – A site’s success can be completely irrelevant to design. See above discussion of Fox.
  12. All in all, it’s bad design. It may function. It may serve a purpose. However, Drudge’s design limps blindly on like the buffoon in the White House he was so fond of.

Responses

  1. Will Farrington says:

    November 20th, 2008 at 6:02 pm (#)

    Here here!

  2. Will Farrington says:

    November 20th, 2008 at 10:02 am (#)

    Here here!

  3. caroline says:

    November 23rd, 2008 at 1:45 pm (#)

    Here’s what I hear from folks who’ve been online a long time and tried Drudge but can’t stick with him: His design is too confusing. You can’t tell what’s news. (Granted, you have to get used to his odd style.) Things are just thrown up there and you don’t have a clue what he’s talking about or referring to (again, these are the folks who aren’t die-hard newsies and don’t already know his style).

    Then there are the college kids and folks who have grown up with the Internet these past 15 years while Drudge’s page has remained stuck in time. They say the thing looks utterly bizarre. Don’t understand who would use such a hideous layout (and for that matter, say they don’t “get” why Drudge is a big deal or ever was, all he does is link to other news publications. Again, you’d have had to have been there when Drudge broke on the scene to get it.).

  4. caroline says:

    November 23rd, 2008 at 5:45 am (#)

    Here’s what I hear from folks who’ve been online a long time and tried Drudge but can’t stick with him: His design is too confusing. You can’t tell what’s news. (Granted, you have to get used to his odd style.) Things are just thrown up there and you don’t have a clue what he’s talking about or referring to (again, these are the folks who aren’t die-hard newsies and don’t already know his style).

    Then there are the college kids and folks who have grown up with the Internet these past 15 years while Drudge’s page has remained stuck in time. They say the thing looks utterly bizarre. Don’t understand who would use such a hideous layout (and for that matter, say they don’t “get” why Drudge is a big deal or ever was, all he does is link to other news publications. Again, you’d have had to have been there when Drudge broke on the scene to get it.).

  5. website builder says:

    June 1st, 2010 at 6:14 am (#)

    I'm also confused with its web design. I wonder if that website still gets good traffic.

  6. Shane says:

    June 15th, 2010 at 7:07 pm (#)

    His site visits keep growing every year. He gets more clicks than just about every major news agency.

    Michael you seem to miss the point, function is design. The point of a website is to get clicks, you design is has to be 100% related to this goal or else the design is useless. The results for the site speaks for itself.

    It think too many people in this debate bring Drudge's politics into the debate. A poorly designed website can't get Billions of visits. Period.

  7. Naples web design says:

    August 20th, 2010 at 7:05 am (#)

    A kind of web design to be like that is extremely not good at all. I guess there's a big percent of bounce rate in that site.

  8. Shitclown says:

    October 9th, 2010 at 11:07 pm (#)

    dumbfuck

  9. Sam says:

    September 22nd, 2010 at 8:40 pm (#)

    call the kettle black

  10. SAS says:

    October 25th, 2010 at 6:16 am (#)

    What a jealous article!!!!

  11. Jennifer L says:

    February 28th, 2011 at 11:16 pm (#)

    The writer is an idiot.

  12. Joecomm says:

    October 23rd, 2011 at 4:18 am (#)

    You suck ball rot.

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