What makes good web design?

I am in crisis today. Some days I am just not sure what constitutes good web design anymore. Help me see the light.

The never-ending process of redesigning the HTML soup that is headscape.co.uk continues. While seeking inspiration for my copy I came across this site:


What surprised me was my confused reaction to the site.

Its cool… oh yes it is

To start with I thought, wow this is cool. It looks great, it is built in web standards and it even caters for users who do not have the flash plug-in installed. A great example on modern web design, using semantic code and degrading nicely.

Oh no it isn’t

However, when I got past the technical and design excellence I started to find some confusing features. For a start, it took me a moment to work out what they did. Despite, the big banner saying, "We do web stuff" I had trouble grasping what the site was about. Was it a games site, a site for kids, what?

I loved the little cool figures and even grasped relatively quickly that they were the main navigation. However, I was then left wondering what each section contained. The white arrows everywhere and the spidery yellow text made it hard to interpret what was going on.

In two minds

I am not writing all of this to slag off the site. Quite the contrary, in many respects I am very jealous of the talent behind it. The reason I am writing is that I really do not know if it is a good piece of web design or not. Obviously, in many respects, it is, but from a usability standpoint, I am not so sure. Is it form over function or am I just turning into a grumpy old man? What do you think? How would you rate this site?