Making beautiful web content…

is not the same as making web content beautiful.

Been thinking and reading a lot about this. This is in large part driven by the reality that sometimes we [people browsing, checking out web sites] have almost no control over the content we browse; yet we have an expectation of a web site – all web sites – being beautiful and compelling.

Can’t immediately recall if I posted about this previously but it seems there’s a trend with web content quality going on.  There’s all these great frameworks for building web sites – think JQuery, responsive design and HTML5 templates – and equally there are great tools for creating media – think cameras that get better each day, still and video; and PhotoShop plugins, video encoders – and yet many web sites are just plain, or plain ugly. Is this because web site owners don’t care about the beauty of their sites? Or perhaps they don’t receive negative feedback from site visitors. Or perhaps their site’s purpose has nothing to do with being beautiful.

I ran a quick test with FlipBoard to see what it would produce from some of our more visual content; the rendered output is impressive:

FlipBoard rendering of Microsoft Research content

Based on this simple experiment, I wonder if web site owners are depending on FlipBoard-like apps and iPad-like devices to make their sites appear to be beautiful.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the search engines had a beauty filter; some query parameter to return only beautiful web sites? The problem is [as we all know] beauty can’t be defined.  It’s in the eyes of the web browser.


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