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Some days, writing comes easier to me than others. Last week’s blog pretty near wrote itself. I’d just had half a brush with death on Wykoff’s Run with all its twists and turns thanks to an AI that didn’t know c’mere from sic ‘em. Today, nothing is popping to the forefront, so a Top 10 (or Not) it is.

But first, a story. Didn’t see that one coming did you?

I decided to try one of those AI blog writin’ things today, never intending to use it for real, but I had to see. Especially after the debacle with the nav AI last week. This is science Timmy.

And it was a train wreck. Bland, boring, wordy and clinical. In all fairness, I did stretch the limits beyond what any AI might find tolerable. My title was “Why AI Isn’t There Yet” so we were off to a great start. Then I used three ‘keywords’ – staid, presumptuous and vague – to get the ball rolling. For the tone I could have chosen something like ‘Friendly’ or ‘Witty’ but I decided to go for broke and keyed in ‘Southern.’

The main thing I remember before I busted out laughing was something to the effect that it turned on itself. Like a snake eating its own tail, it confessed that it didn’t have much of an imagination and wasn’t good at lying. As an example, it informed me it was liable to tell me that my dress DID indeed make me look fat and that my face WAS shiny.

I could go no further. I quit at that point Timmy, confirming that it wasn’t the tool to use for writing a blog. Plus, it would’ve taken more time to edit the drivel it spat out than it’s taken me to write any blog I’ve ever written.

Brent’s Top Ten (in no particular order)

Now that we have that out of the way, back to the task at hand. I mentioned awhile back that I like to check out web design and development trends from time to time, just to make sure I’m keeping up. Or in this case, mostly not.

A few of my observations and thoughts on my trendy things research from today…

Brutalism: That doesn’t sound good, but it’s pretty much what it sounds like. As in IN YOUR FACE Timmy. I suppose it has its place, but not in my backyard.

Experimental Navigation: Nope. I quickly decided that the last thing I want is do is have my visitors feel like lab rats, having to guess what’s gonna happen when they click something.

Retro Typography: I’m on the fence with this one. I like retro. It makes me feel young again. But it matters the font. The one shown as an example kept me awake last night.

Scrolling Effects: This is another ‘not so much’ for me. When you scroll, things happen. Images change, zooming and sliding. Feels like vertigo to me. Using this technique is said to engage the user and keep them scrolling. Let’s call it what it is – the ‘Labrador in a Field of Butterflies Effect.’

Text Only: So not on board with this one. It runs contrary to every other trend the article listed for tips and tricks to engage visitors. Giant fonts. Faux sophistication. Again, it may serve some purpose, but for me, it feels like someone just decided to phone it in and call it artsy Timmy. Just duct tape a banana to a wall and see who ponies up $120K instead.

Cinemagraphs: I like this word. I make up words all the time too. But cinemagraphs are really nothing more that high quality animated gifs that are intended to be engaging. To me, especially in the examples I saw, they’re just plain annoying.

Ultra-minimalism: If I thought the ‘Text Only’ trend was pretty much phoning it in, wow. With ultra-minimalism, somebody figured somebody else was gonna phone it in for them. This one has such limited usage in my mind that I don’t know how it could ever qualify as a ‘trend.’ Sorry ultra-minimalists.

Overlapping Text and Images: The designer in me likes this. The developer in me doesn’t. It’s certainly visually appealing in many cases, but it can be an absolute nightmare to control responsively. Especially if the overlapping element is positioned both horizontally and vertically. Too many media queries Timmy.

Broken Grids: Okay, that’s an oxymoron. Grids exist for a reason – to nicely align things. Once you break a grid, it’s really not a grid anymore. And I don’t mind that because the visual effects can be refreshing. But it’s not for everyone.

Kinetic Typography: Fancy name for text that moves. I’m okay with this as long as visitors can take control and stop it from moving, or if it stays still long enough for them to read from beginning to end. It’s really frustrating to have to wait for a blurb to come around the third time to digest it all.

So all that said, these are just my opinions. And the people who track these trendish things are way smarter than I am. I just know what I like – clean and orderly, but I’m not averse to trying something new. But only if it works Timmy.

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