What is good blog design?
Is it something that can be measured, like the height of a stack of pancakes? Or can it only be felt, like a wet sock? As a service to our readers, we asked a panel of design experts to evaluate all 15 finalists in the "Best Blog Design"
category of the 2005 Weblog Awards. Here is what we learned:The Gleeson Bloglomerate
is, according to the design experts we consulted, perhaps the best blog design ever. Using cutting-edge "Web 0.2" technology (and Web 0.2.3 in places) the Gleeson site masterfully aggregates the content of four separate weblogs into a beautiful mélange of hyperlinks and synopses. The posts are a joy to read too, being mostly about knitting and presocratic philosophy.Coming Anarchy
, based in Chechnya, is a comprehensive catalogue of instructions for making and selling illicit drugs, with a new section on improvised explosive devices. The illustrated instructions are so easy that a child could follow them, and the whimsical anecdotes about the foibles of smuggling never fail to elicit a smile.Sharp as a Marble
is an Arabic bestiality blog, with some very ingenious programming. As soon as we visited the home page, it charged our credit credit card $24.95. With such a crowded and busy interface, you'll never have a shortage of things to click on here. About half of the articles are in English.Giggle Chick
is the front-runner in the polling so far -- and with good reason, says our panel, as it is a superb Care Bears fan site. Readers who are charmed by the adorable antics of the precious pastel ursine creations of American Greetings will get lost in this labarynthine tribute. Quite lovely, says our panel, but due for an update; the most recent post is dated 1998.Lord Boomboom's Castle Thoughts
is also a fan site, this one devoted to Jack Fertig, the San Francisco politician who ran for mayor under the name "Sister Boom Boom" in 1983. There are numerous interviews with Jack, practically a new one every day. Our panel suspects that this "fan site" is operated by Fertig himself.The Shape of Days
is a specialty blog, devoted to the world of street mimes. Articles about how best to mime such actions as "walking against the wind in a big box" can get overly technical (at least for the layman), and the hundreds of comments can quickly turn nasty. The design elements of animated mimes struck us as elegant, at first, but got tiresome after a few minutes.What Do I Know
is a text-driven role-playing game. When you enter the site, you are trapped on a hostile alien planet. To find your way back home, you must find the clues and solve the riddles before you die of dehydration. Our design panel kept getting killed in the blue corridor, the one guarded by the penguin. If anyone knows the answer to the penguin's riddle, please leave a comment to this post.The Brown Daily Squeal
is an anti-cruelty shock site with many graphic photos of disemboweled rabbits. Not for the squeamish. Mom 2 Mom Connection
is a lovely two-column design, peppered with endearing spot illustrations. Unfortunately, this excellent design was plagiarized from the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (isber.org), so our panel cannot recommend your vote.Ljcfyi
is a discussion board dedicated to the Christian marytyrs of Hungary ("ljcfyi" is the Hungarian word for "painful death"), with hagiographies dating back to the 7th Century. Most of their traffic comes from misdirected Google searches for Stephen King.Antipixel
is an interesting programming project from a student ot the University of Malaya. The background of the page changes color according to barometer readings in Kuala Lumpur. Our panel found the concept fascinating, but the color changes are so slight that the human eye cannot perceive them.Demure Thoughts
is the place to be, for shoe fetishists. This site has a list of "20 uses for a paratrooper boot," none of which can be reprinted here (and two of which will only work if it's the left boot). Not everyone's cup of tea.WetWired
explores the misunderstood world of bedwetting. Millions of children, and adults, suffer from this uncontrollable condition, and we are glad they can turn to WetWired for support and help. The design was a bit too yellow for our panel's taste.Scrubbles
is an aggregate of news articles about fox terriers. The site is updated monthly, and features a great photo gallery of fox terriers in many settings. Or it might be the same fox terrier in many settings; they all sort of look alike to our design panel.Dizzy Girl
is a mirror site of The Drudge Report, used as a backup when Drudge's server goes down. Our panel found the design very usable, if a bit plain, and the articles a bit on the sensationalistic side.