I think it was back in 1995, or 1996, when I came upon a new redesign for Nike’s website. It was such a cool and radical use of layout and creative use of HTML (mmm, tables, mmm) — I had to know who was behind the design. After a little research I came across Derek’s portfolio that advertised he was in on the masterful work that I drooled over.
And Fray has to be the oldest independent website (not a blog, mind you) still running on the Internet today. As a testament to how strong the content is, the website had been using the original design and layout first created in 1996, or as Derek puts it, “Before the boom. Before the bust.” For this site, the content became the design more so than what the navigation looked like, or how well the site validated for XHTML and CSS.
The original design worked. And it worked well enough not to need a redesign for almost seven years.
I wish more websites would have stuck with some of their older designs. Almost everything created by Clemet Mok and Studio Archetype are gone now. Which is a shame because I think their creativity is leaps and bounds over the crap that passes for MSNBC, Adobe, and International Olympic web sites today. Only one of Archetypes original customers still uses their designs today, which provides more evidence that good design need only to be created once.
UPS has altered their site a little here and there but only to add more information or applications, never to tweak or alter the design. At least nothing near as bad as what has happened to KCRW‘s, Razorfish designed, web site. Take a look, it’s a good example of what happens When Frontpage Attacks.
I’m happy for Derek and his work, not many (if any) web designers can boast the longevity displayed by his designs for all those many years.