Marfa Journal ¶
I’m posting this purely for the fact that it’s a fascinating website1, designed by Andrew McCarthy, who apparently also just helped finish up the redesign for the Django website.
There is something to this approach to design, perhaps an exploration of the medium itself, fascinating to see still going on even as the web has entered its third decade.
I may try to drum up some more examples later, but I’m starting to get excited that some new aesthetics are finally emerging, harkening back to some of my favorite elements of web design from the 90s. Maybe connected to the whole “Indie Web”2 thing?
At any rate, I’m hoping that the web finds ways to differentiate itself from the current aesthetics of iOS and Google’s efforts with Material Design. Don’t get me wrong—those aesthetics are both perfectly mature, well-adapted to their platforms and devices, and neutral enough that they adapt to a reasonably wide variety of applications.
But where platforms supporting graphical user interfaces (like Windows and Mac OS) prefer and benefit from a certain amount of uniformity3, the web has always struck as a home for greater levels of expression and experimentation. I have never heard of a “personal app”—but countless people around the world have a personal website.
I have no idea about the magazine, and I know of Marfa itself only by reputation. ↩
In 2011, Gruber made the case that iOS had cracked open a trend toward greater individuality in app design:
There’s a conservative/liberal sort of fork in UI design, in the sense of traditional/non-traditional. The conservatives see non-standard custom UI elements as wrong. Liberals see an app built using nothing other than standard system UI elements as boring, old-fashioned, stodgy.
At this point, nearly 4 years later, it feels more so to me that there is simply a new uniformity in mobile apps, as the experimentation stage died down. It’s that experimentation stage, though, that I feel is coming back to the web, for some reason. ↩