I built a satirical website to promote the ‘Party Werewolf’ t-shirt (all profits benefit the World Wildlife Fund; read more about why in this blog post). The site is SaveTheWerewolves.com and it is an intentional violation of all that is sacred and holy in web and graphic design. My goal was to have fun, to create something ludicrous, to raise money for charity, to try my hand at ‘guerilla marketing,’ and to lovingly satirize both web design and environmentalism. I was inspired by an intentionally awful and hilarious website called ‘The Official Website of America.’ That site epitomizes all that is considered wrong, bad, and outdated in web design: animated GIFs (as a tiling background image, no less!), a shitty embedded music file, eye-searing graphics, logic-defying layout choices, et cetera. So bad, it’s good.
It’s good to be serious about the standards and practices of good design, but I find that the design community takes itself awfully seriously sometimes. Getting upset about bad fonts seems silly to me (there are websites devoted to complaining about Comic Sans and Copperplate). Why agonize when you can satirize? I think most designers got into this field to have fun while being creative, but it might serve us well if we practiced the ‘fun’ part more often. Granted, that can be easier said than done while you’re trying to make a living during difficult economic times, and that might be why we should remind one another from time to time.
Another source of inspiration for me was William Friedkin’s use of ‘subliminal’ imagery in his films The Exorcist and Cruising. One of the scariest elements in The Exorcist is an image of a demon face that appears for a fraction of a second during several scenes – it’s visible if you are viewing closely, but it will scare the fuck out of you even if you are not entirely sure of what you’ve seen. Brilliant. I have embedded brief flashes of various imagery (including Mr.Friedkin’s demons) in the animated GIFs on SaveTheWerewolves.com and there are many (rotten) ‘Easter eggs’ hidden around the site. You can start finding them by hovering your cursor over almost any text or image on the homepage.
I hope the site makes you laugh and I hope you’ll consider supporting the World Wildlife Fund and Magnetic State! People who own the shirt tell me that it makes a great conversation piece. Thanks!