Jason Fried Rants about Modern Web Design

Jason Fried, the cofounder of 37signals, concluded Tech Cocktail Sessions Chicago last week with a critique of modern, slick web design. We’ll let Fried speak for himself:

Fried - designFried: “I’m actually really interested in less perfect things these days. I think there’s a bad trend going on in web design, specifically in application design, which is everything is a little bit too slick.

“If you look at the most successful web-based software tools, designers would say they look like sh*t. Amazon looks like sh*t – a mess, right? Craiglist – mess, right? Google’s gotten a lot better – Google’s design is really quite good right now. But . . . Gmail, people don’t like Gmail. All these sites are really cluttered and a lot of designers would look at them and go, ‘This is bad.’ But there’s something to it. eBay – what a f***ing mess, right? But so successful. What’s that about?

“I think it’s a really important thing to think about. Clutter is a human thing – it feels cozy, it feels like there’s people who made this and not these artists who people can’t relate to. So I’m really personally very interested in folksy-style design these days, and I’d love to see that make more of a comeback.

“Every website today is this huge photo with parallax scrolling; everything is artisanal and craftsman-like and beautiful – even the writing is getting too perfectionismist (that’s not even a word). The writing is getting too ridiculous and precious. Just write like you speak.

“Also, some of the best buildings in the world are made by people who aren’t architects. They’re just people who made something really cozy and you go into a room and they threw it together and it’s kind of a mess. But you feel comfortable in those spaces, more so than you feel comfortable in a museum. I think there’s something to that that needs to come back to technology, and I’d love to see that happen.”

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.
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