A Simple Site

Over my years on the indie web, a common criticism I've seen is about websites that only exist for the "aesthetic": basically sites that have little content other than looking pretty. I've seen so much disdain for these sorts of sites, and I find it really quite silly.

My question to this critique is: Why are simple sites like these a problem? Personally, I don't see an issue with them at all!

I find that a lot of the people who have had this critique in the past use it as a way to downplay the effort that others put into their websites. Sure, seeing another pink and sanrio-themed site may get old after the 10th time, but someone still put effort into it. It still looks pretty. It still made someone happy to create. Or another Y2K website with a similar layout to all the other ones - but do you blame people for being inspired by Y2K designs? They look good! [1] This even applies to common traits you see in a lot of Neocities sites. Such as similar font choices (MS Gothic especially) or graphics (I see a lot from FOOL LOVERS) or even page layouts and design choices.

The fight to be "unique" or whatever is one that you'll never win. There is no such thing as a fully unique website - but why is that a bad thing? I think the fact that a lot of indie web websites share little traits in common is cute and good! We're all inspired by each other. [2]

Anyway, this sort of rhetoric really reminds me of people who turn their noses up at modern art. Sure, at a cursory glance, the canvas painted only blue may not seem unique or special or even worthy of being called "art"... but someone still put thought and effort into it, no matter how little effort you think it took! It's still art. Even if it's simple, it's still thought provoking!

Downplaying someone's effort just because they don't write stupidly long blog posts about topics only you care about, or saying that someone's site isn't good enough because they don't have a long string of books they've read - any reasons like that - I think is really... upsetting.

Things should exist just for the sake of it. The worth of something shouldn't be decided by how much content is on the page that you, or anyone finds interesting.

I've found a lot of personal turmoil when it comes to my site and the ""content"" that's on it. (A lot of these thoughts pop for me. I think it's because I'm always chasing a "better layout".) I feel forced to try and come up with unique or interesting ideas, or write deep and thought provoking blog posts but, in reality... I'm just a really simple person.

I think we are all really simple people. I just think a lot of people are afraid to admit that they're just not that interesting. What I say is this: Make a site that you will love. If that means writing lots of long-winded and boring blog posts that only make you happy, then go for it! If that means making a pink website with cute graphics, then please, make that cute site! If that means using a layout and going for a Y2K style, then make that Y2K website!

While you can certainly have your opinions on these sorts of simple sites, please remember to be kind to your fellow internet travellers. The indie web is a tiny place, and it's upsetting when people are turned away due to feeling like they need a reason to make a site. You don't need a reason, you just need the want to create.

Make something you can be proud of, no matter how simple it is!

[1] There is a conversation to be had about people using cultures (that aren't their own) as their aesthetic. I'm not qualified to speak on this matter, however. I just thought I should mention it in a footnote: food for thought, maybe?
[2] I want to make a distinction here, however. There's a difference between inspiration and copying. Inspiration is seeing a pretty website with a font choice you really like, so you decide to pick the same font and a vaguely similar colour scheme - but the layout and everything else is different and you coded it by hand! Copying would be just taking their site's code and slapping your own text over it. Please don't copy other's hard work!