Watching the excellent HBO Documentary about James Brown Mr. Dynamite made me think of FUNK and web design. Web design is easy to get WRONG (lol).
It is tricky to design online with a sense of surprise, beauty and novelty. I like the Digital Invaders design as it feels free and spontaneous. Other designs such as Monster CSS and Creative With A K feel like they are trying to appear spontaneous and free.
Trying too hard is EASY in web design too. Remember all websites are STAGES we designers SET. The trick is to set a stage that feels like it is happening now and won't feel dated tomorrow. Feels like there are enough visual hooks in Digital Invaders it would be easy to keep it fresh with minimum fuss.
I like Emigre too. Emigre creates the same sense of happening now but that design is at the other end of the spectrum from Digital Invaders. Its hard to beat the grid. First website I created, in 1999, used a Mondrian grid.
Grids help organize massive amounts of information without that mountain feeling like it is about to crush you. I like the funky NOISE contrasted to the quiet grid because they demonstrate the need to find a visual VOICE in your web design. That voice can be anything as long as it feels authentic TO YOU.
The web is very good at finding and amplifying DISSONANCE. When you try to FUNK IT UP and aren't really funky it shows like you are wearing the wrong decades fashion (painful). Your customers are your audience.Set the stage anyway you want, but do so with an eye toward YOUR TRUTH.
The closer you stay on the tiny beam of "authentically us" the more success your web design has. This is why there are no web design maxims that apply all the time. What works for Emigre is very different than Digital Invaders but both work, both are authentic and have that hard to describe but know it when you see it TRUTH great web design must have.
Via Martin (Marty) Smith