Complex, Bloated Web Design Described in 13 Words

created May 13, 2019

The so-called "modern" web design means that text-based websites are massively bloated, bogging down last year's brand new CPUs.

The "modern" web browsers are like mini operating systems because so much is shoved down the tiny web pipe.

May 13, 2019 Hacker News thread about whatever.

Top comment thus far out of 25 comments:

I have a Facebook account, this creates limitations when it comes to blocking (e.g. I cannot use a DNS block/piHole).

What I found works for me is to use Multi-Account Containers with Facebook being forced-open in a specific container (that's only for Facebook) and then using Firefox's built in Content Blocking to block trackers in other containers (Content Blocking -> Custom -> In All Windows).

This allows you to use Facebook but makes it significantly harder for them to track you across other sites (via shadow accounts or your actual profile).

I doubt that Facebook cares about that user, since probably 99 percent of Facebook's 2.4 billion users don't care about their personal privacy and security on the web.

Here's the brilliant reply comment to the above HN comment.

I love how browsing the web now is like gearing up for war. Need our anti tank and our anti air of course.

When I use the wonderful "modern" web browsers, I also use the following browser extensions or add-ons: uMatrix, Privacy Badger, and Quick JavaScript Switcher.

Surfing the web with JavaScript disabled obliterates the hostile and insane "modern" web design. If that means some websites are unreadable, that's okay. Those publishers won't miss me not reading their websites, and I won't miss anything by not reading their hostile-designed websites. Win-win.

It's still a huge web. I can find plenty of interesting content to read that is hosted at websites that do not abuse readers with "modern" web design.

"Modern" web design is synonymous with needing some kind of reader mode app.

In that same HN thread, here's a reply to the above brilliant reply comment.

It's kind of terrifying how one sided it is. The only browser that matters for standard setting, the one used by the vast majority of users, is built for and by one of the largest advertising and data collection firm.

Of course, the user is referring to the Chrome web browser and Google. I hope that the user recognized the vicious circle that enabled our current predicament.

Does the smartphone get the blame? Of course not. I blame people who wanted the web to function like native apps. Did Google push for that? Maybe.

Web publishers, web developers, and web browser makers wanted features added to web browsers that allowed developers and publishers to create websites and web apps that functioned like native mobile apps.

Instead of learning Objective C, Swift, or Java to create native apps, the web developers wanted to use their experiences with CSS and JavaScript. That led to an explosion of features added to CSS and JavaScript this decade, which led to an explosion of frameworks that make building complex, bloated websites easier. When CSS needs to be "compiled", that's a sign of things going amok.

Chicken and egg syndrome. I'm unsure which came first. Did web publishers and developers want native app-like functionality added to web browsers, or did the web browser makers add new features to their browsers, which caused developers to use the new tech because it existed?

Sometimes, it seems that the obnoxious "modern" web design is used simply because the advanced web browser features exist. No problems were solved by redesigning websites to be bloated, slower, clunky, less intuitive, and worse of all, harder to read on mobile devices, due to the trend of using a microscopic font size with a grey text color.

It's as if modern web design is about making websites less usable. And the solution offered by many publishers is to encourage users to download the publishers' native mobile apps. ????????

It's some kind of bizarre circle or maybe a circle within a circle within a circle. Make the web more complicated by adding features that make websites function similar to native mobile apps. This creates websites so bloated and hard to use that publishers push users to install the publishers' native apps to view their content.

Of course, another reason exists for why publishers push their native apps: users cannot block ads within native apps.

At one time, Medium.com offered a pleasant, reader-friendly, mostly empathetic web reading experience, across all devices. But over the past two or three years, Medium's web reading experience has become so hostile, that I mostly ignore accessing links that point to medium.com posts. About the only way that I read a Medium post is with uMatrix cranked up, blocking everything except HTML.

And one reason why Medium's web reading experience is annoying, especially on mobile devices, is because Medium constantly pushes users to download Medium's native mobile app.

Why maintain websites if the web publishers want users to install native apps? What was the point of over-complicating the web if ultimately the goal is to get users to download native apps?

Naturally, not all websites and web app tools provide native apps, which leaves us exposed to the unnecessarily complex, bloated web. Could websites and web apps be designed simpler? Of course. But developers want to use cool, sophisticated technology, even if it's overkill for the task.

And maybe website and web app owners believe that users might view their sites and tools as amateurish if an older, simpler web design is used over the modern, clunky, bloated web.

This decade, users have grown accustomed to difficult-to-use websites. Is it possible that users now associate complex websites with professionalism? If so, that has to please web developers who can create more unnecessarily cool stuff. The cool factor outweighs usefulness.

I guess Craigslist remains an outlier because of its age and, most importantly, because of it's usefulness.

Did web users demand websites function like native apps, or was this an issue of tech people knowing better than non-tech people? The non-techies did not know what they wanted until the tech people gave it to them.

Modern web design has worked out well this decade. The most popular "browser" for many mobile phone users is not a web browser. It's Facebook's native mobile app.

Google created Accelerated Mobile Pages because the modern, bloated web design, probably pushed by Google, helped media orgs to create some of the worst designed websites on the planet.

It's hilarious. Google helped to create a modern, complex, bloated web by adding new, complex features to its Chrome web browser. After web publishers adopted bloated web designs to display text, Google created a solution by pushing a simpler web design with its AMP technology. AMP is sort of Google's own web standard to make terrible websites usable on mobile devices.

It's like the government. Create or enable problems and then offer solutions to their problems.

Mozilla has tried to keep up with the modern, bloated, complex web with its Firefox web browser. Firefox contains over 35 million lines of code, but Firefox only has around four percent browser share.

And some geeks wonder why we don't have more independent web browser development.

A simpler web could have allowed for more independent web browser development to occur. Why did tech want to blur the line between mobile native apps and web design for mobile devices?

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