web design

New Youtube interface yet another example of the growing madness

Youtube did it again. “Polymer” looks very much for mo’bile, and naturally, LESS space-optimized, no visual section distinctions, and less info in that more space used.

“Clean, fresh, new, going with the times”, these are words marketing people always use to describe beauty-less shit. Just recently I encountered exactly this with St√∂rtebeker beer bottle labels. Boring white rectangular fields introduced where there was a parchment style before, less theme-appropriate beauty, and those words used, while proudly bragging about what an eye-catcher their unique bottle-surrounding label format allegedly is and how everybody loves their new design.

Youtube, too, now did the step we always see with the Grey Gentlemen taking over more of the world. The pleasant red gradients I see in my bookmark bar and tabs has turned into an eye-burning intense monochrome red and the website itself is stuff thrown into a sea of white.

As it is reported, ‘plenty of white space allows you to focus on a site’s content instead of its interface’. The idiocy! Suddenly visual helpers for distinguishing content sections and types, those white boxes on a gentle light gray background, are seen as DISTRACTIONS!

It is very depressing to see this deranged shit happen more and more wherever you look, especially in web design. Verschlimmbesserung everywhere.

UPDATE 2017-09-07: And the bits of genius keep coming. Now Youtube informed me I got early beta access to the new Community tab, which replaces the Discussions tab. So my first thought is: Review and maybe archive all the old Discussions content before it’s gone. Where can I do that if the new tab replaces it. And those eternal numbnuts point me to my comment history, as if that helps in any way. The comment history can’t even be searched, let alone filtered by date, and it’s definitely not useful for finding people’s more or less old comments on my Discussions tab and my responses to it.
Youtube – the 24/7 fucking joke
If they offered me a paid job to bring some brains into their conduct, I might see hope, but I’m smart enough to know the problem lies elsewhere, not in intellectual resources. At least not only.

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Why it is OK to negatively criticize a free game

You’ve probably read it a couple of times. There’s a free game, say, on Steam, and people complain about stuff and then others talk down to them, claiming since it’s a free game, they are bad people.

So let me widen the perceptual horizon here.

Justified critique is totally fine, especially considering that a freely published game, especially on a highly-frequented platform like Steam, is often a promotion instrument, a skill demo, so it’s not exactly for the pure love of the world. You’de be surprised how many people are way more egoistically motivated than they pretend to be. But you’d only be surprised when you find out, and you only find out when you can manage to put them to the test. (I’m digressing slightly here.)
Furthermore, critique is free consulting, so they’re actually getting a good deal. I mean, there are game devs who are totally inept design-wise, publish a piece of crap of a game, then collect the tons of critique and get to work implementing the suggestions and thus don’t need to be anything but a hacker monkey who is being force-fed with game design training. That business scheme seems especially popular with early access. People will even pay for crap and on top of that give you free consulting services, all fueled by the hope that the game becomes great one day.
In the most extreme case, an early access game is little more than: “OK, I made an empty world space. Pay up, then I’ll allow you to tell me what you want in it and I’ll put it there. (Unless I don’t want to.) Isn’t that great? Your own personal ideas implemented in a totally not generic game. Your ego must be so st(r)oked right now. Buy your own little piece of immortality today!
And the next day there’s an empty space with a pickaxe and a zombie.

I was inspired to write this when I learned about a free Steam game (Serena) that had some issues related to Steam being crap and Valve not caring (the usual), and I read up about the game, and it’s advertised as “…the result of a massive collaborative effort between dozens of fans and designers of adventure games.” while when you press ESC that story-progression-type game immediately quits, without so much as a confirmation dialogue. Unbelievable? Well, I’ve seen some wacky things. Totally justified to go “Dude! What the hell?!

Speaking of incompetence: Is there any major internet business that hasn’t made it its mission to destroy any usability? As I am writing this, I have to switch between Visual and HTML view, because HTML view doesn’t have quick formatting, but requires me to add code manually, while Visual doesn’t know what a line break is (!), yet in HTML view it doesn’t even need/show the code for it.
I’m not even gonna explain how to do it more elegantly. They need to figure such basics out themselves. My consulting services aren’t for free, since my expertise is apparently scarce.

Round avatar pictures – The new stupid trend

They keep popping up. The stupid trends that do something the stupid way which used to be done the smart way and everybody jumps on the idea.

Examples from movie-making would be immersion-breaking circular explosion pressure waves and lens flares.

One of the more recent web design trends is to make avatar pictures worse. (There is no English word for Verschlimmbesserung, the act of changing something to make it worse.)

Picture files are rectangular. Web design is profoundly rectangle-based, and for a good reason. It makes efficient use of screen space. Now you create your avatar picture for a web service, cut it so that it includes what you want to see, upload it, and then the web service just cuts off a good bit of the picture all around, thus wasting all the space that has been cut off, since there’s no use for the free space around a circular web element like that anyway. Your whole avatar now looks like it has been squeezed into a balloon, with no advantage, only downsides. Why? Because some marketing-drunk fools think rectangles are so last year?

The world is going crazy. I see the process at work every day.

Lack of customer-orientation in web design / marketing

One more encounter in regards to that. Businesses not really trying to appeal.

Wanted to check out Final Fantasy 14. Went to their website. Before anything else, before knowing about the game, I was ‘greeted’ with an unwanted popup, wanting me to buy the game or download the trial version. I clicked that away and then got an empty page telling me – Error, cookies not activated – and that was a dead end. I had lost interest at that point. I simply wanted to watch some screenshots, maybe read some text, and the very first thing is them throwing several layers of unnecessary hassle in my face.

If a person does that, you simply walk away, shaking your head. And that’s what I do with businesses, too. I don’t need even more interaction with disturbed characters than the internet already unavoidably provides. I will wait for positive surprises instead and give those my full attention.

Web derpvelopment

Not really derp actually, but an egocentric, arrogant, deceptive mindset I see spreading.

Soundcloud worked fine. Until today I realized that ANY Soundcloud URL accesses with my Firefox browser would lead to an error page:

“Sorry! Something went wrong. Is your network connection unstable or browser outdated?”

My network is fine. And outdated browser? Waterfox 30 (64 bit version of Firefox). Hardly. Hah, well since over the years I have developed a keen IT sense for this kind of stuff, for the politics behind web development, I could predict what would happen.

As I predicted, when I launched my (some would say) outdated (I would say “trusty and smart”) Opera 12 browser and tried Soundcloud, it worked fine.

As I predicted, when I activated cookies for Soundcloud on Waterfox, it worked fine, too. I know they would want me to activate cookies for their website, but wouldn’t want to admit to that openly, but rather give me some poor excuse.

I don’t claim to know every line of thought behind this in detail, but the fact that I knew what would work is telling.

Furthermore, as I predicted, Soundcloud access using Opera 12 would work despite cookies being deactivated there.

There’s a certain irony here, but regardless of how much of what’s going on behind the scenes is conscious action, the results reveal the driving mindset at the core. Opera 12 is just too old to design a website for it to NOT work without cookies, thus that older browser does not cooperate with whatever cookie-based obstacle they put in place. It is very common for websites to complain if you don’t have cookies activated, but then why did Soundcloud not consider that possibility in their error message, when it was THE reason for the error message to appear? Why are they playing dumb?