Small websites on a big World Wide Web

Jeremy Sarber

On day five of #100DaysToOffload, I’m sharing an article I enjoyed regarding the non-commercial sector of the World Wide Web.

Parimal Satyal writes:

Most websites today are built like commercial products by professionals and marketers, optimised to draw the largest audience, generate engagement and convert’. But there is also a smaller, less-visible web designed by regular people to simply to share their interests and hobbies with the world. A web that is unpolished, often quirky but often also fun, creative and interesting.

I’ll leave you to read Rediscovering the Small Web in its entirety, but I’ll share a few of my favorite remarks.

Modern gatekeepers

Today, most of the time spent on the web is either on a small number of very dominant platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, or mediated through them.

There is so much content” that is constantly pushed at you as a user that very few of us actually venture out to browse and explore anymore. We simply don’t need to. But these platforms thrive on user engagement”—likes, comments, clicks and shares—and their algorithms are more likely to give visibility to content that generates this behavior. Instead of browsing, the web is for many an endless and often overwhelming stream of content and commentary picked out by algorithms based on what they think you already like and will engage with. It’s the opposite of exploration.

The product-oriented website

The design of the modern commercial web is also sanitised”: it is polished, follows conventions and is optimised for efficiency. This is one of the reasons so many websites you go to today look and feel the same. The codes of the commercial web have become so dominant that we have forgotten that the small web still exists and has a completely different priorities.

Modern web design principles are very rarely directed at regular people looking to make a website on something they are interested in. Instead, the focus is on creating websites that perform well.

Your own corner of the Web

So the small web still exists, and is still giving us all kinds of websites to browse through and discover.

As fun as it is to explore what’s out there, the best part is really to join in and make your own website. Not on closed platforms or on social media mediated by ad companies, but simply in your own little corner of the web. It’s the best way to see how simple and open the web really is.