Ceci n'est pas un web-site.


Can anyone please tell me – what is a good website supposed to look like…?

Is it the Java applet sitting beneath an animated billboard? …A remote electronic marketplace? …A stack of paper that hovers (miraculously) in ether? …A virtual gallery?

…Is a website like a textbook, rich with information but stylistically neutral?…or is it more like a train station? Is it in three (or more) dimensions, or maybe just two?

…Perhaps it has a row of hi-tech, chromium-style buttons with bevels, embossed text and drop shadows running down a sidebar? Or maybe it is more of an immersive experience – allowing the user to explore a deserted street, clicking upon travel posters – inspect-ing detritus and debris, scavenging in search of a history?

I do have a point in voicing my concern. Interactive culture is now an agent of that staid icon of multiple-choice: the tired old Chinese-American menu. Imagine any combination of dishes you’d like to sample, and in under three button clicks they can be served, on-demand…We are simply becoming less deliberate in the choices we make as an electronic culture, while the new media developers are presenting us, increasingly with more options. And we have been reinforcing this demand for the delivery of options by our silent approval – after all, this is a trend which resonates best where it serves the egos of designers and content-developers worldwide.

Of course, there’s always the odd voice proposing technology as a means of simplification – often drowned out by the sheer volume of options burying the speaker. For the search we might conduct by employing web technology to better explain our lives – in a pursuit of better choices, even when that means fewer of them – may present a return of more, effectively, for less.

What am I suggesting? Only that we have reached critical mass in an age of an on-demand dim sum for the mind. As netizens, we are really still exploring the first page in the big book of potential in new media. So perhaps it isn’t too early to make a break with information-superhighway-hypnosis, and begin to live, as Thoreau suggested when he set off into the woods, a little more “deliberately.” The experience this man was seeking, according to Walden, was a greater appreciation of his own humanity.

So, with everyone’s permission, I’d like to offer a suggestion here:

We shall proceed in our development of a common language – transcending genres and demographics, where vocabulary can be less constraining than that of preceding generations – but that we make smaller, steady advances in developing a graphic language that exposes more of ourselves and our humanity.

• Also, that we should offer richer content, and embrace all of what a web site is and what it should be: a total relationship the consumer has with the product. For a web client, this translates to the best of worlds: a more compelling discussion of Brand – within a fully immersive experience.

If Day For Night has a graphic mission (and it does), it may well be to ring in a new era for increased conscience and reflection – a matter, we feel, begins with a discussion of personal history, an underground architecture and something we like to call Internet Theatre…