Nowtro: Redesigning Old School Style Monday June 15, 2009

I’m going to borrow Zeldman’s tongue-in-cheek name for this idea, but I have to admit I really do love the idea of Nowtro – redesign in an old school vibe with new school sensibilities.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve noticed some fairly influential web sites are making the shift from the bombastic in your face design of last year (i.e. the c.t.overdrive design) towards the more subtle and simple design aesthetic of the past. And I have to say I’m really enjoying it.

The first inclining of this movement has been in a few retro projects that have been getting a little bit of spread such as Classic records done as Penguin Books or The Harry Potter Books done in a retro style. Neat little side products that give new products an old school retro feel. There are dozens of other which are very well done and very fresh.

But last week one of the heavy hitters in the design world Jeffery Zeldman rreleased his new web stie redesign; a simple old school blog with a bright orange background. Clean-cut, content orientated and in an odd way very, very fresh. This redesign follows right on the heals of another predominate web guru redesign from Jason Kottke. Both sites are brilliant in their simplicity and their attractiveness.

Anyone who struggles with maintaining a blog knows the difficulty in creating a site that’s interesting and eye catching, but not bogged down with all the bells and whistles. Because of which, many web sites go through numerous redesigns trying to encompass all the latest gizmos and gadgets. Which in the end can take away from the content and the goal of the site. If you want a good understanding of the pains of redesign, just have a gander at Dooce’s latest redesign and the back lash when she went to a simpler site.

The shift towards a nowtro design is probably something that will happen more and more in the next few months. There seems to be a growing resentment towards clutter and the latest widgets, towards design that is a bit down-to-earth. Back to simpler times of Geocities and smaller browsers.

So as Zeldmen says:

The … redesign is up. You’re soaking in it. It’s old school. It’s brand heritage, baby. It’s retro 90s web. It’s so retro it’s nowtro. Because old is the new new.

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