6.14.2006

Fugly Writing Websites

Okay, maybe not all are horrible, but too many are.


Why, oh, why must writing websites be so damn ugly?

It's like a Law, the Law of Ugly Writing Websites or something. Agents, small presses, helpful people offering writing advice, scammers, if it's even tangentially related to writing, it's bound to be hideous and dated (ugh).

The look is from the late 90's; one mile-long page of oddly spaced and erratically centered text with dancing bananas sprinkled throughout at random. They're the visual equivalent of an "As You Know, Bob"; everything barfed out onto the page as needed without regard to subtlety or panache or interest.

Occasionally, the page will use frames (FRAMES!), and be broken up into sections that make no real logical sense and are so random as to suggest a serious lack of coherency in the mind of the site's designer.

There are three predominant color schemes. Multi-colored text on a white background, multi-colored text on a black background, or, most hideously, a horribly cluttered and blindingly ugly pattern against which the poorly chosen text color blends into unreadability.

And, without fail, every last goddamn ugly page has ugly gifs bracketing the title text. You know what I'm talking about; an immense title in the center top of the page, bracketed by two grainy, dirty gifs (usually run through several photoshop filters badly).

Who looks at those gifs and says, "Hey, two ugly clipart faux-Celtic lions, compressed to speckles, and then dyed blue and poorly cropped! I *totally* need these for my webpage!"?

And, for the LOVE of GOD, if you must put a picture of yourself up, make sure it's professionally done (and that you have a copyright release; it's theft otherwise, no matter how much you paid Sears for the print) and appropriately spaced on the page.

Even the less offensively ugly ones are still pretty bad; blocky squares of text, laid out in what's supposed to be an eye-catching fashion but just looks cluttered.

There's one writing forum where I couldn't even *find* the link to the forum from the main page. I finally discovered by accident that the forum was actually on the main page, below a screenful of intro graphics, blurbs, and text.

On some level, I actually find it kind of sweet; it's like these writers are saying, "I'm an artist with words, but I'm too humble to claim any visual skill; please, be gentle with my lack of knowledge about your amazing graphical world".

And I suspect that most of those visiting don't really care that the page is fugly, or even notice after the first few visits.

But the design of your webpage is a place where you have the opportunity to give others a glimpse into what you consider beautiful and to share some of your personality visually.

Many of these writing websites say "my personality is blocky, earnest, and a little clumsy, and I'm enthusiastically oblivious to appearances". I don't want *my* webpage to say I'm a golden retriever, but apparently these folks don't care.

Oh, and tip of the day: "Copyright" deals with the rights surrounding your copy (ie, your work). "Copywrite" is nothing.

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