Matt Drudge – the conservative American political blogger who runs the popular website The Drudge Report – has been awarded an honorary Webby award for “Lifetime Achievement in Web Design Conservation and Consistency”.
The Drudge Report started in 1997 and is most famous for breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal the following year when America’s mainstream press refused to publish the story. In fifteen years it has become a significant force in American journalism and is currently ranked by Alexa as the 426th most popular website on the Internet averaging around 6.5 million pageviews a day.
Most impressive to the Webby judges, however, is the fact that Drudge has been able to accomplish such success without using a single principle of web design developed since 1997 – the year Steve Jobs returned to Apple and Lycos was the internet’s leading search engine.
“We just don’t know how he does it,'” explains Susan Toledo, a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and former Webby judge “His homepage is literally a giant blotch of white, with one advertisement and one headline. And below the fold its a just a few columns with lists of hyperlinks in a ridiculous font no one can read.”
Indeed opinions of the site’s layout are generally not favorable. Yet some critics have argued that the universally panned design is responsible for the site’s success as it maintains the site’s uniqueness on the web.
“We had to give him something eventually,” says Toledo “He’s obviously doing something right, and even if we can’t see what it is the IADAS should be on the right side of history. We think he might be like Picasso – a web design genius that will only be appreciated by future generations.”