On Wednesday, a link surfaced to the top of the the subreddit r/crappydesign with the title "Positively the worst thing I've ever set my eyes on." The post linked to a disaster preparedness website affiliated with Nevis, a small island in the Caribbean Sea.
The Nevis disaster preparedness site is an amazing feat of retro web design. There are animations, clip art, a hoarder-esque layout with a mishmash of fonts and slow-loading images, and an auto-playing song.
Here's the homepage. Prepare yourself.
Fusion reached Lester Bennett, the designer of the site, by phone on Wednesday. Bennett defended that the site's maximalist design, saying that displaying more information is better than displaying less information.
"Some people say it's too clustered, but some people like it," Bennett told Fusion. "There are pros and cons to both."
Bennett, who served as the director of disaster management for the Nevis government until his retirement last Monday, told Fusion that though the site may look daunting to a first-time visitor, frequent visitors come to understand where to go to obtain the information they need.
"Some people like to be able to have access to the homepage rather than having to figure out which link to go to," Bennett said. "Obviously, if you haven't been on the website, you may not be able to find the links."
Nevis launched its disaster management website in 2006 to disseminate information to its citizens about hurricane and flood preparedness, mostly, but also house fires and the small possibility of an earthquake. Bennett told Fusion that the site started small—around 40 pages or so—but quickly expanded to nearly three times that size over the years.
They even recorded a theme song to help spread the message of disaster preparedness. Some sample lyrics: "The Nevis Disaster Management Department/They provide you with all the safety tips."
"Music is always catchy, people will remember the words, and remember the tune," Bennett said. "And there's a message behind the song. It can't be a song for song's sake."
Bennett told Fusion that if anyone has any suggestions for improving the site, they can feel free to shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. But we can't imagine how it could be much better.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.