Brutalism isn't an absence of modernity. It is the absence of a modern aesthetic. It merely shows what is normally hidden beneath the gleaming facade.

The Brutalist structures in the world are not devoid of modernity in their superstructures or infrastructures. It is merely the external facade that is without pretense and is exposed to the public.

In Web design, a website based on Brutalism doesn't have to be without modern elements (frameworks, structural CSS, JavaScript, etc.). Rather, it is without the facade of modernity. It reveals those things that we normally "clean up" or "hide" through external means. Some of these include:

  • Hiding bullet points
  • Using non-system (web-safe) fonts
  • Making images more "exciting" through filters, blurs, etc., that are called in the CSS

Bullets are visually meaningful.

System fonts are some of the most classic fonts ever produced. Their extreme legibility is why they've been included as system fonts.

And images are meaningful and clear when shown as they are brought into the browser. So many tools exist to put filters, blurs, etc on images before getting to the website that there is no need to take up valuable processing time and power to do it in the browser. That time and power can better be used to deliver better quality images. Also, those filters and extras on images rarely add to the website and, if not done properly and purposefully, can detract from the ability of the viewer to clearly see the photo. Photos should bring clarity and say what can't be said in 1,000 words.

So we see our sites not as prehistorical things that can only use HTML. Rather, we embrace structural CSS, JavaScript, and even certain aspects of frameworks. What we resist is the necessity to hide those unsightly things that modern design has taught us are unsightly, even uncomfortable. Those things, in fact, help to visually take the viewer through the page. Heading 1 elements are bigger for a reason, not just for the sake of search engines. If we utilize the structural elements of the markup--instead of hiding them--users will have an easier time using the website to get to the information they are looking for.


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