I am a graphic/web designer. Cross Browser compatibility has been the bane of my work existance for over 9 years now. Getting front end code to play nice with every browser quadruples the time it takes to get certain tasks done. From 2006 to 2008 I worked on a companies front end site redesign during a Java Migration. At the time IE6 was still pretty prevelant especially in 2006. So throw JSF into the mix, and you have frustrations on a daily basis. Things are getting better with Microsoft finally taking steps to be standards compliant, but they are still stubborn as hell on a variety of issues. With IE6 and prior they were intentionally going against the grain, purposefully breaking web standards. So it is going to take a while before this gets out of their system.
Back end coders tend to shrug off certain display issues as "nit-picky", where for the designer they are serious issues. I am not trying to bash all backend coders, as I work with quite a few who really know their stuff, but there is a reason why companies employ graphic designers in the first place. Artists are more visually oriented and take greater care into ensuring a website displays properly in the browser.
Designing for multiple browsers means you do not have predictable control over how a site displays. Seemingly nonchalant front end code bugs can easily balloon into terrible display issues depending on the situation. You do not want to go into a meeting having developed a website for 1 browser, only to have it show up botched in another browser as it is shown to superiors in 3 regional locations. I have seen it happen before, and the person got fired that afternoon. This was a situation where I was brought in as an outside consultant to give off the cuff gut reactions on a design they had been developing for a few months.
The example in the original topic is actually not a product of oldschool website design, but a product of the MySpace manic disregard for anything that is holy with the Internet. Notice the sites posts start in 2006 and it of course uses blogging software. Today people simply go to any number of blogs and social networking sites, and start randomly cramming it with crap, all the while tethered to the default capabilities of the backend software. These people don't have the faintest idea about how a website works. Back in the 90's you didn't have these services. Blogger.com didn't show up until 1999, and the blog trend didn't even start to ramp up until 2003. If anyone wanted to carve out a little home for themselves on the Internet, they had to make the site in HTML and code it from scratch. Back then you had no choice.
After a long hiatus I recently returned to University to wrap up the few classes pending for a degree (got employed at numerious companies, so it has taken some time to get back and wrap it up). This spring I was in a class for designers that is a lot like Senior Thesis course. I was shocked to find out that none of these people knew any HTML or CSS. Only 1 person in the entire class knew how to make a website, and these were people who would have to go searching for a job at the end of April this year. These kids are a product of the Modern Internet. The worst part is, they weren't even motivated or curious to learn how to make a website. I honestly have no idea what jobs they expect to find.
Modern day CSS / blog / Web 2.0 asthetics are crippling website design. Websites today are so templated and standardized. They seem to be in some sort of twisted competition to see how many widgets + coding options can be crammed in one site. Broadband Internet browsing has become more and more like dialup every day. Slashdot used to work just fine. Now it runs like garbage in a ton of browsers.
People could learn a lot from older website design. For certain things, I find it is better to display information the oldschool way. Simple text, colors, and images. It loads instantly, I can find things easier, there is less bloat.
Let's look at a few examples. Here is a tiny Jet Force Gemini fan site I found recently:
Pretty cool huh? Sure its not going to win any awards, but I think the simplicty and oldschool nature of it is interesting to contrast with modern sites.
A more current website: Hardcore Gaming 101
By far one of my favorite game related sites, and the entire site is all oldschool HTML. The site doesn't even use any CSS. The thematic layout used for each game series perfectly suits the content the site is trying to present. Shoving this into modern design would kill me.
Another great example is looking at anything relating to technical documentation. Here is a mod tool site for the PC game "Jurassic Park Trespasser":
...now take a look at someone trying to show something such as this in a blog:
http://sporedum.net/spore-modding/spore ... mod-spore/
I am not saying we should all go back to hardcoding everything in HTML, not use databases, and cast aside CSS. I just feel studying the past helps prevent abusing current technologies, and helps keep design and layout options open to more possibilities.