By on September 14, 2005

I remember back when the web was still fairly new, no one really knew how to make a good web site. The down side was that there were a lot of lousy web sites, but the up side was that there were no defined rules, and so people were trying all sorts of things in order to see if they could hit on something fresh that worked.

Within a couple of years, nearly everything had settled down to “inverted-L with hierarchical tree structure and crumbtrail”. The web is far more useful now, but most authors (and users) work on a set of de facto rules of “what works”. Back in the day, I could go browse a site just to explore the fun ideas that someone had spent hours squeezing into it, but now I’m mostly just looking for reference manuals and airline tickets. Hamsterdance wouldn’t fly if it came out today.

I have no clue who Billy Harvey is, and I still don’t have much of an idea after looking through his site, but I do know that I spent quite a while exploring every nook and cranny of his web site, and had a great time doing it. It was a total flashback to 1997: No real structure, light on content, but a wonderful piece of art that ignores the ‘rules’ of what a web site is. Web for web’s sake. Fun stuff.



  1. I think your review of his site might be a bit harsh, someone put a lot of work into all that stuff! What a dork. I dig it…

  2. If you got ‘harsh’ out of that, I wrote it wrong. I thought the site was a blast. For a site like this, breaking the rules is a good thing. It’s light on information, but here’s all it needs to tell you:

    • His name is Billy Harvey.
    • He sings songs and makes CDs of it.
    • Those CDs can be purchased.

    And it tells you all of that in about 20 seconds. The one thing this web site needs to do is increase the number of people that have heard of Billy Harvey and know that he sells CDs of his music. It does that by being awesome and getting everyone to talk about it. (I read about it on Kathy Sierra’s blog, and it’s here, so it’s spreading through the nerd community pretty well).

    My point was that I had fun browsing this site in a way I’d not had fun just browsing a site for several years, because it broke all the rules. I like stuff like this because I tend to get stuck in the ‘rules’ of web design and it’s nice to be shaken loose once in a while. I would have never suggested a site like this to a client, and the one I would have suggested would have been far less effective. It’s a good thing to realize, I guess.

  3. When I said harsh, I guess I was thinking you were calling it simple and circa 1997. I still say the guy’s a total dork, but that site rules.

  4. That was actually pretty damn impressive. I love how the music dropped off when you were zoomed out and got louder when you zoomed back in. What was really cool was when I started one song in one room on the right and then zoomed out and went way left, the sound only came out from the right speaker. And then, I started a video in one of the left rooms and went back to the middle of the house and had the music from the video coming in the left speaker and the music from the other song coming through the right speaker. I don’t usually like Flash sites but this was pretty cool.

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