Brutalist Web Design. A Breath of Fresh Air in the Modern Web

Lewis Menelaws on December 19, 2018

When I was 10-11 years old, I was isolated and timid so expressing myself creatively was often hard and I usually just resorted to video games to p... [Read Full]
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I've seen #BrutalistWebdesign quite frequently this year and I think, they mostly get it wrong.
David Copeland, the author of the guidelines you linked to, actually explains what brutalism is about and tries to adapt its philosophy onto a website. The result is a plain, white, easy to use document, and it works really well. The core statement is that unstyled documents are mostly fine as they are. Each CSS property that's applied to the document needs a very good reason to be there.
However most websites featured on go the other way and apply retro designs and design antipatterns just for the sake of being edgy. The user is not in focus anymore, the designer is. It's the exact opposite of brutalism.
While I love seeing weird, retro, anti-design websites and exploring their sometimes unexpected behaviour, brutalism is the wrong headline.

(I know, I must be fun at partys)


I love your fair take on it :). You are welcome to every single one of my parties. (don't forget the pizza)


I hadn’t realized this was a thing! I went on a tirade a little while ago and built “the simplest website that could possibly work”. Heavy focus on the content and blazing fast page loads (because it’s mostly just HTML and a few bytes of uncompressed CSS). One of my big rules is that it has to render in the Lynx browser. If my site doesn’t work in the terminal, a screen reader won’t fair well either, so it’s broken. +100


This is purely psychological. You're not experiencing something objectively good - you are experiencing a relief.

A lot of sites nowadays are milktoast soggy wonderbread of blandness. They just feel awful to look at when every single site is batshing boring.

So naturally you're enjoying a relief when you see something interesting to look at.


Wow, some of the websites on the list are amazing.

Thanks, I didn't know about this "current"


Make the web great again?

I kid, of course. But, I will say as much as I feel you and join in eye rolling at the trite carbon-copy plastic facade of the modern web, I also do not yearn for the warm, familiar embrace of you the man now dog :)


Thank you for sharing this. I'm loving going through all the websites on the list!


I am not by any means a web designer but I read about Brutalist Web Design a while ago and then immediately changed the CSS on my website to give it a go

It seems quite divisive, some people love the design of my website... and others don't :(


I did a coding challenge for an app where they also wanted a 'design'. I reckoned that I'm not a designer nor am I applying for a design position so I might as well go hard brutalist.

Of course the team evaluating it docked me points for it not being a 'professional' looking design.

They also critiqued my architecture with references to webpages which on closer reading said that my approach is perfectly fine until you're faced with larger scale issues. (I was doing the challenge in a language I'm hot fluent in and told them that I would be proficient in a couple of weeks.)


  • Thanks the team for sharing all their feedback with me. Rarely has it been clearer at such an early stage that I wouldn't want to work at a company.
  • Don't have your coding challenges be reviewed by a committee of anal programmers. Mark to a set of objective criteria.
  • Don't do coding challenges if you're a developer with > 5 years experience and have representative projects on your GitHub.

Totally think the same as you, that brutalism design is very addictive to look at, because give us a break from the same type of design over and over again, but if we use to much of brutalism design it can end up as the norm an not being appealing again, more on this subject in this website to complement this vision


The biggest problem I have with the brutalist sites I've tried to look at so far (3) is simply that they are ridiculously heavy on bandwidth (waited about a minute for each to load, consuming 7-10 mbps for the whole time), crazy with cpu (Firefox warned of unresponsive sites) and mad with memory (never seen my phone go over the 2.5 gig Mark before).

I'm all for expression and doing your own thing, but the point of online content is for consumption by visitors. If your visitors can't load the site, that's a giant fail.


Websites used to have much more personality. I love coming across some old forum. Very nostalgic indeed.


Wow some of the sites on that list are really great. The creativity goes trough the roof. Amazing stuff! Thanks for sharing.


Brutalism is a thing of 2017/2018. Some brands are now switching away from it.


I knew it was just a matter of time for this to come back!

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