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Idiot web designer

Four great websites that look rubbish

Idiot web designer

Four great websites that look rubbish

The best websites are able to offer great aesthetics and usability, underpinned with useful, high-quality content. In some cases though, sites only manage one of the two.

Below are four websites I use regularly that are fantastic sources of information, even though they don’t look impressive on arrival. These can serve as a reminder not to be too quick to judge sites by their appearance, and also that in some cases, flashy design can mask a lack of content.

1. Rec.sport.soccer statistics foundation (RSSSF)

RSSSF.com is possibly the most comprehensive football resource on the internet, bringing you up-to-the-minute details on league standings in everything from the English Premier League to the São Tomé e Príncipe Third Division. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a nightmare to read and navigate.

The whole site is in plain text format, which must make updating league tables an ordeal for the contributors. Particularly chaotic is the ‘Miscellaneous’ section, which contains everything from a list of games around the world where one team has scored 10 or more goals, to a look at club rivalries in Guinea-Bissau – all seemingly put together in whatever order they felt like.

This site is like the middle aisle in Lidl. Great stuff, but you have no idea what you’ll find.

2. Neil Brown’s A-Z Player Transfer Database

Staying with football websites, the best one for finding a list of every player to have played in the English and Scottish Football League since World War II was put together entirely by one man, purely as a lifelong labour of love that began in his childhood.

The fact that the URL is www.neilbrown.newcastlefans.com gives an indication of how dated this site is and how little interest Mr. Brown seemed to have in monetising it, as does the Comic Sans font being used for headings. I’m in awe of the scale of his work though, with every player having their position, years at the club, where they came from, where they went to next, and their appearance and goal stats listed. Some players’ names can be clicked to see more detailed info about them, such as their birthplace and season-by-season stats and whereabouts.

Sadly, Mr. Brown passed away in 2015 and the site hasn’t been updated since, with the last contribution being a moving obituary from his wife. Still, the site remains online and is a real treasure trove to the football researcher.

3. Ultimate Music Database

With its garish cyan and yellow colour scheme and 1990s-style Word Art, the Ultimate Music Database isn’t easy on the eye, but is home to everything you need to know about your favourite music artists, their chart entries in both the UK and the US, and their members.

Seemingly compiled by Czech music lover Miroslav Jurčeka (which explains why the language of the site can be toggled between English and Czech), the site is a far superior resource to the Official Charts one, which despite being more aesthetically pleasing is rather glitchy, clunky and has gaps in its information.

4. The Anagrammy Awards

Lovers of wordplay should call in on the Anagrammy Awards website, which is home to an enormous archive of pertinent anagrams (e.g. “Fox Entertainment Group = Often exonerating Trump”). The archive dates back to 1998, but the design of the website wouldn’t have looked ahead of its time then either.

Kudos to the webmasters behind these four sites for putting content first. Ideally, however, it’s best to have smart design too, and there’s no reason why the two need to be mutually exclusive. For a website that looks great and is rich in meaningful content, speak to Engage Web today.

John Murray

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