Creating Killer Web Sites revisited

davidsiegel.gifTen years ago, David Siegel was the biggest name in web design. Even before his book, “Creating Killer Web Sites” was released, Siegel was a household name to HTML authors. Before there were blogs, Siegel had the prototypical personal web site.

I stumbled across Siegel’s name the other day and thought — “whatever happened to …”

Interestingly, his once seemingly lavish and groundbreaking personal site can still be found archived here. The site included a blog of sorts.

Siegel taught us how to use tables for presentation and how to use the single-pixel gif trick to manipulate element placement. These were not, are not, things you are supposed to do with HTML. But in a time before style sheets, what was a visually oriented designer supposed to do?

In looking through his past, I found a couple of articles in which he renounces high-end web design, such as this one based on a 1998 interview.

But Siegel does accept one final reason why the beautiful sites he pointed to in 1995 and 1996 have not gained ground. Consumers didn’t like them. Take Discovery Channel Online, which once boasted one of the Web’s most elegant opening pages. The site has returned to a more conventional and less exciting scrollable table of contents. Most lovers of Web design would deplore the change. But as Siegel notes, Discovery carefully tests all elements of its site with its users – and the less beautiful site tested much better.

Apparently, Mr. Siegel has moved on to dark chocolate. His later-days blog seems abandoned. Meanwhile, Discovery is now pretty damn fancy — hardly simple. It probably has something to do with broadband. Siegel was pretty creative for a couple of years. It’s worth wondering, if he’d stuck with it, what he might have created in the age of DSL and CSS, and what rules he would be breaking to do it?

[dels]web design, david siegel, killer web sites, 1996[/dels]

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