Ecommerce and corporate websites need to adopt some minimalism and de-clutter01 Feb 2023
Most senior managers and sales people in the 80s and 90s used to wear suits or blazers like this one while going to work. And while t-shirts and jeans have become the norm today (some IT firms even allow bermuda shorts from what I’ve heard!), it’s important to understand that old thought process and prejudice because the same thing applies to a large extent to many of today’s websites and cluttered ways of life.
The authoritarian and imperialist approach.
If you go back even a century in history, it was mostly an imperialist world, it was ruled by monarchs or dictators, sometimes the most ruthless ones. Consequently, the average mindset or psyche started to develop a very submissive attitude towards authoritarian artifacts like more pompous dress codes involving suits, ties, cufflinks, stockings, etc. In some regions of the world and even some industries like manufacturing, catering, etc., such dress codes still exist to this day.
Another reason they worked effectively was because discipline (which is arguably an authoritarian tendency going by today’s standards!) was still quite respected as a virtue which is no longer the case, or at least gradually being eroded today. A person using these artifacts was perceived to be quite a disciplinarian.
There is also the case that people used to take other people at face value. “If they’re wearing a suit, they ought to be working in a high position in some company”, they thought. But later on, the world gradually realized that everything that glitters isn’t gold, face value isn’t always or necessarily the true value of something. At first, there was a renaissance of healthy skepticism in the early 1900s which lead to many a great inventions and innovations but today, we live in the renaissance of cynicism and try to cancel just about everything!
Doesn’t work in the modern age.
The “authority token” doesn’t work in today’s age though. Most people, or at least the average consumer, is pretty much “anti-authority” in the sense that they don’t like to be told what to do. They don’t like it that some marketing chap in suits will come to their home and lecture about how their product is so cool. They want to make their own decisions, or at least want to feel that they are making their own decisions, which is where digital marketing comes! The old school marketing techniques like door-to-door and cold calling no longer work today because people no longer trust other people. They only trust brands today, brands which have been able to convince them that they’re trustworthy through digital means.
It’s just as important to not get carried away to the other extreme of excessive cynicism though, because remember, everything that glitters still isn’t gold! The biggest fraudster of our times, Sam Bankman Fried, for example, was a cool looking dude who mostly used to wear t-shirt and shorts on all occasions and reeked of the exact antithesis of authority, which is anti-authority or a “Robin Hood” kind of guy. And still people fell for that and lost 10 billion dollars! In the end, intent and attitude of a person are the only things that matter, nothing else.
Websites still work in a bureaucratic style.
Coming back to the substance of this article, I just don’t understand why websites of big e-commerce companies are so heavy and bloated. They are marketing with suits and ties in the age of t-shirts and shorts. The average consumer doesn’t want to see all that pomp and flashy design, minimalism is the prevailing and natural attitude today.
Our websites need to be de-cluttered as do our complex lives today, that’s what most people believe and think. Society will reach there some day but it’ll be a slow and gradual process, someone needs to make a start today. The fact that the average pleb will be able to make some savings in bandwidth cost and the network won’t be overwhelmed with a ton of extra bytes is another advantage of this.
There are many ways to make a site function well and also look aesthetically pleasing while still using minimal resources. Your site doesn’t have to as bland as the Richard Stallman website. You can take inspiration from the Old Reddit, for example, or the old Wikipedia site or even Tildes who have come up with all kinds of dark and aesthetically pleasing themes like Solarized, Atom, etc. If they can do it, I’m sure the big dotcoms can do it too, perhaps in a much better way given all their resources and manpower.
I really hope the web gets de-cluttered some day and that day comes very soon.