At Torontoist, we spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not Toronto is ugly. We fret about bad buildings, inappropriate signage, and street furniture, but this is the first time we’ve gone out of our way to call-out a website for contributing to Toronto’s ugliness.
Streets.to uses the tag line “Toronto’s Visual Search Engine,” and setting aside the fact that there’s no way to actually search this site (other than navigating through pull-down menus), you have to be impressed with the amount of work that’s gone into this thing. For some reason, they have taken dozens of Toronto’s top venues and painstakingly turned them into Flash animations. The question is: why?
Why would you want to turn Toronto’s streetscape into something that looks like it came out of Leisure Suit Larry, circa 1996 (see below)?
The really strange part of the whole streets.to experience is that once you actually navigate through to get to the inside of a venue, you are presented with very classy full-colour photographs. So why make users go through multiple screens of ugliness before presenting them with the information they might want? Why go through all the trouble of creating an entire Flash universe when photographs are obviously so superior? We don’t get it.
Obviously advertisers seem to like the idea, based on the number of places that have signed up to be converted in Leisure Suit Larry mode, but it’s hard to believe that the site will gain much traffic from real users while it insists on being such an assault on the eyes.
NOTE: This article originally blamed a restricted colour palette in Flash for the ugliness of the animations. As it turns out, Flash isn’t to blame at all, the animations are ugly without any help.