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posts / On this website's design 1/19/2019

My goal here started out as "let's use stock browser styles, but modern page layout techniques". I've always been a fan of basic, unstyled websites like craigslist, Stallman.org, the chuck website and others, usually by techie folks who maybe knew some php and just needed a place to post their pictures online. It was hard to stay excited about "designing" a site to look like nothing though, so I went out looking for inspiration in older browsers. I was awestruck by one.

A screenshot of the NCSA Mosaic browser.

That typewriter style font. That gray background. That pink and lavendar shower-curtain pattern in the banner image. Black text and blue links, that turn purple when visited. So lovely. It has a simplicity and honesty that you just don't see anymore, especially in sites by people claiming to be developers.

NCSA Mosaic and the old Netscape versions seem to have shipped with gray (#b7b7b7 or thereabouts) as the background color. I can only guess the reason was so that it would match other application windows on the host OS. it's surprisingly difficult to find anything online about the design decisions that went into old browsers, though. If you know of a place. by all means, spam links at me on twitter. My profile is in the bottom right corner (fake browser badges are just for fun, not accuracy).

At this point I think I have effectively swaggerjacked NCSA except for a few small details. Hopefully I don't get a cease and desist order from their lawyers, since my own legal team is kind of preoccupied at the moment.

A picture of cats at play.

So the tl;dr here is that this site's design is silly and that's 100% intentional. I even wrote the code to add that speckly gif dithering to the images (more on that process in a future post). Outside of some common libraries like Vuejs and Flask, the frontend and backend code is all me. Now that I am at good stopping point in this pile of code though, I think I'm gonna call it Dan's Bolg Engine v.1.0 and leave it alone for a hot minute.

I get bored reading websites that talk at length about how they were made, so I think it's time to do something else for a while.