I have this friend, who's at once incredibly smart and witty; always knows what's going on in the world — though easily susceptible rumors and conspiracy theories — and everyone seems to like him, but he smells. Not just smells like an old submarine sandwich full of onions, but smells like an old can of re-fried beans. Its painful to just be around him. Is it my duty as a friend to inform him of his "predicament"? I think it is.
The Drudge Report® was the recent subject of 37 Signals contributor Jason Fried, stating that The Drudge Report® is the best designed sites on the web. I'd like to believe (as do many others) that Jason was pulling our legs, but he swears by his stance. It got my attention (most likely the point of writing just an entry) In order to make any value judgment claims one must have a standard definition of a term or concept — in this case: "design", and then define what qualifies an "effective" and another "ineffective". Without such a common ground of understanding states like "Best", "Greatest" are arbitrary and meaningless. Without getting theoretical about what is and isn't design (and the relativism of creativity), what is and isn't good design, I'll attempt to focus (as usual) on how The Drudge Report® functions on a structural and informational level.
Lets begin at the beginning — the top 620 pixels of the screen real estate are occupied by a large banner ad followed by another large image on top of a 50 pixel bold headline and then the official masthead. I know that screens are larger and that scrolling is insignificant in today's age of scroll wheels and 22" monitors -- but this feels; disgusting. I chose to "crop" this wasted space and focus on the masthead and below, which gets the overall structure of the site.
If one values something for the sake of its lack of conformity and stubbornness then Drudge Report® succeeds in having that web "retro" feel of something stuck in the early 90s (which I think makes the site essentially 567 years old; in web years) — sure its fast, easy, simple to maintain, but its also overloaded with text insufficiently distinguishable from any other text, uneven in column width, random in its use of images and image placement. Drudge Report® is the equivalent of a butterface. The lack of care might to some be endearing, but for me the lack of care in the overall design (which includes structure, grid, hierarchy, graphic elements, continuity and overall "story") is like a book without the plot; artwork without color; music performed by robots.
"6.1 A professional designer shall avoid projects that will result in harm to the public."