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Brutalist Web Design — A New Take On Ugly

By July 12, 2018January 18th, 2023No Comments

To stand out in a sea of tidy, organized websites, some designers are resorting to convention-defying brutalist web design.

Brutalist web design can seem jarring at first, but many popular brands are now incorporating these aggressively alternative design elements into their websites. According to Envato, “brutalism comes from the French word for ‘raw’,” which translates to the more unorganized the better. In a more uncanny sense, brutalism is minimalism on steroids. Guidelines are thrown out the window with this ever-growing trend

Homepage Design of Dropbox

What is Brutalist Web Design

Starting as digital art, brutalist web design was transformed into a movement by the mid 2010s. As it increases in popularity, brutalist web design is leaving a lasting impression on the digital world. Key elements of brutalist design include:

  • Repetitive geometric patterns
  • Honesty about graphic materials
  • No desire to cover up the intentionally “ugly” design
  • Unorganized postmodern layouts
  • Foregrounding information
  • Refraining from beautiful, flowing decoration
  • Use of multiple fonts that do not flow

Examples of Brutalist Web Design

Homepage Design of Bigsound Buzz

Vintage meets new age with Bigsound Buzz, a music website highlighting upcoming music artists. What sets this brutalist website from the rest is the newfound nostalgia, with technological advances while keeping the comfort of the past. Bigsound Buzz has created a combination of:

  • Old-school vs modernism
  • Large, unorganized fonts
  • Interactive features (i.e. the turntable)
  • Lack of concern for color coordination

Homepage Design of Props Magazine

Welcome to Props Magazine, a noteworthy brutalist website of which psychedelic dreams are made of. The minimalism works best here due to the publication’s high level of artistry. Traits of the brutalist website design include:

  • Colorful colors as focal points
  • Circular cursor scrolls through modular design
  • Loud, jarring coloration that almost clashes but does not
  • Jumbled guidelines

Homepage Design of Yale School of Art

Academic websites aren’t usually known for their creative designs, but Yale School of Art presents a new twist on college campus euphoria. Expressing creative spirituality is crucial for any college art student while marking a mark on his or her campus, and the Yale School of Art presents brutalism at its finest with:

  • Stacked images
  • Tiny typography
  • Foregrounding information
  • Eclectic repetitive photography

Homepage Design of Awwwards

Rebellion is the name of the game in brutalist web design. Brutalism will continue to define a design aesthetic because it follows specific rules and patterns to convey certain messages. Jumbled guidelines is the creative agenda and therefore, brutalist web design is meant to challenge the design conventions that are popular today.

In its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy, Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism, and frivolity of today’s web design.