net magazine - - GALLERY -

Mastodon, the de­cen­tralised, free, open, and in­ter­op­er­a­ble al­ter­na­tive to Twit­ter, has been around for just over a year, and its de­sign is a grad­ual and it­er­a­tive process. How­ever, the Mastodon land­ing page at join­ has a very dif­fer­ent goal: ex­plain­ing Mastodon. As Eu­gen Rochko, the cre­ator of Mastodon says: “It needs to be the kind of page any­one could send to their friend to in­tro­duce them to the idea.” As peo­ple can in­stall their own Mastodon in­stance on their own server, the page has to be suf­fi­ciently dis­tinct from the About page of each in­stance to pre­vent con­fu­sion about what’s the soft­ware and what’s the server. The page is an en­tirely static web­site, built us­ing the cre­ate-re­act-app from Re­act.

The JavaScript gen­er­ated dur­ing the build process is scraped into HTML us­ing re­act-snap­shot to make sure that it all works smoothly, even when peo­ple have dis­abled JavaScript. The ele­phant il­lus­tra­tions on the site re­ally add to the dis­tinct brand of Mastodon, in ad­di­tion to con­vey­ing the friendly nature of the Mastodon com­mu­nity.

Eu­gen com­mis­sions the il­lus­tra­tions for empty spa­ces in the UI, as it’s nice to see a cute ele­phant once in a while. “When there are server is­sues, I am less up­set about it when I know peo­ple get to see the ele­phant,” he says.

“Mastodon stands in stark con­trast to Twit­ter as a shin­ing ex­am­ple of eth­i­cal de­sign” Aral Balkan,

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