Is the plain-text Internet having a comeback

Is the plain-text Internet having a comeback?

Many pages on the internet have become unusable - often for reasons that are related to advertising. After all, running a web page costs money and ads bring money. However, there is a growing number of web pages that are pure plain-text. No images, no ads. Just plain-text.

Plain Text Sports is one of these sites. It is a page of plain text with ASCII art boxes and monospaced plain texts that displays real-time scores from professional sports games. It has no images, no pop-ups, no trackers. Even on bad connections, it loads almost instantly. It's a great site for sports fans and a sign of the future.

Paul Julius Martinez, who you may know as CodeIsTheEnd, began working at Plain Text Sports out of frustration with the current state of the internet. When vacationing in Wisconsin during the pandemic, he tried to view a Packers game but his internet reception was not great. "So I checked the score on my smartphone, checked ESPN," he explained. Even that page with all its ads, trackers, and JavaScript wouldn't load. He had been considering a simple sports site, and decided to go for it.

Plain Text Sports was originally designed for NBA scores. But Martinez has been adding other sports to it. Adding additional sports requires Martinez to integrate APIs so that scores can be displayed. He recently added the ability for users to view past games and go back through seasons.

Martinez could add many other features to Plain Text Sports. Even things that would make it "better". Perhaps it should have user accounts so that visitors can personalize their homepage. Perhaps there should be tickets offers. But for Martinez this isn't something that he considers: Plain Text Sports is simple and should stay simple. There no cookie banner, because there's no analytics.

Martinez doesn't make money with Plain Text Sports. Because the site is simple and has low bandwidth, his monthly Amazon CDN bill is only $50. However, the site's recent success could change this. The site's traffic increased 100x overnight to around 100,000 page loads per day, after being featured on Daring Fireball and hitting the Hacker News front page. Traffic has decreased since then, but it's still ten times what it was just a few weeks back.

Martinez is now wondering what other pages can be created in a similar fashion. He has been considering Plain Text pages for European soccer or cricket: “There are like a billion people in India who probably don’t have great internet service, and they love cricket!”

Plain Text Sports is not the first website of its kind. Single-purpose websites have been a staple of the internet for years. They can be used for everything from Did Duke win to Busy Simulator, Netflix Codes or Down For Everyone or Just me. Plain Text Sports is able to combine simplicity on the front and hide the complexity of the backend, ensuring that the entire sports world can be represented on one page.

There is a growing trend among designers and developers to simplify web pages, in order to make them load faster and work more intuitively. This trend is evident in the return to chronological feeds on social media sites, and the availability of reading modes in all browsers.

Simplifying web pages can have many benefits. Faster loading times can lead to improved user experience, as users are less likely to become impatient and abandon a page that takes too long to load. Intuitive design can also make a page easier to use, as users are less likely to get lost or confused.

The next decade could be the era of simplification, as more and more designers and developers embrace this trend. This would be a welcome change, as web pages that are simpler and faster to load and use are more likely to be successful.

While many of these simple pages may not look very impressive, but they get their work done. And that's precisely their point.

Source: Protocol

Photo by Jimmy Chan from Pexels


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