Guess who has a nice web site?

The Yale School of Art! Here’s what it looks like:

On the actual page, those pyramids jump up and down!

But it turns out not everyone agrees with me. Find out more after the break.

Here’s what Justine (no last name given) of the Yale Herald (Yale’s funky, weekly, alternative newspaper) has to say:

The Yale Art School’s website [sic] is pretty hard to describe… my mother might use words like “out there” or “funky.” The website is a wiki that anyone at the Art School can edit at any time, and the result is pretty intriguing, if almost impossible to read. It also looks exactly like the websites you probably made or visited in elementary school, and reminds me a lot of Kid Pix, if Kid Pix had more disturbing background images. At least at the moment. (The site changes all the time.) People on the internet have apparently noticed, and the art blog hyperallergic posted about the crazy commenters who freaked out upon discovering the crazy website. Highlights include the title of the comment list, ““I’ll bet Yale’s Art Department has an awesome-looking site! Wait… WHAT?! : WTF.” To find out what other websites would look like if the Art School got a hold of them, try this “Geocities-izer,” a website that “makes any webpage look like it was made by a 13 year old in 1996.” Their version of the Forestry School website, besides being hilarious, is also pretty indistinguishable from the Art School site.

Most whom I’ve spoken with have responded with the whole “Ew, did a fifth grader make that?” thing. But of course a fifth grader did not make this site, and it really shows. This is a fantastic web site that speaks to the sophistication and innovation of an excellent art department.

What makes it a good site? A number of different elements. Its editable nature, for one. Its interesting color scheme. The contrast of its lively background with its actually quite staid, modern typography (which is actually quite readable, thank you very much). Its bold simplicity. In a nutshell: its riskiness; its challenging of our usual conceptions.

And that’s also what brings so many to dislike the site. It challenges the ways in which they think about the Internet; it challenges their conceptions of good design. Naturally, that’s precisely what good design does.

Perhaps the most irritating facet of much criticism of the site is the superiority complex that accompanies it: “I could have made that site in my sleep,” “You don’t need to go to art school to know that this is a bad web site.” Such statements of course deserve immediate dismissal, but it’s also worth asking where they come from. Why are so many of us averse to innovative, risky, challenging design? What happened to the days when that was all the rage? Am I the only one who misses the design and architecture of the ’60s?

We need to embrace this sort of design, because it’s exactly the sort we need moving forward into treacherous uncharted territory.

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