Work / Digital

Get in loser we’re going Poolside: meet your new favourite website set in 1986

Around five years ago while staying with his parents in the rainy Scottish Highlands, Marty Bell got hooked onto listening to music which reflected the opposite of his surroundings. Repeatedly listening to “this genre of feel-good, super-summer music,” he built a website which acted as “a virtual vacation to lift my spirits”. Today (26 July), Marty and a few friends launch an update of this initial website: Poolside.FM.

Harking back to 90s Mac operating systems “with some summer Poolside FM twists,” Marty, designer Niek Dekker and developer Lewis King’s creation reflects a brand new playlist including hours of feel good summer hits with Marty enjoying a few hours “spent on YouTube finding videos that made me smile". With no aim but to literally make viewers feel the same as Marty, Niek and Lewis do when listening to these tracks, the trio “laugh about how many hours we’ve put into a website that won’t make any money whatsoever (quite the opposite), but if it makes people feel good, that’s a huge success to us.”

The result is a website which acts like a desktop computer dated in 1986, featuring several documents which aid users in learning more about the project while they select tracks. Its aesthetic is the result of research into 1980s and 90s operating systems, with the challenge “to take this further than simply a shot of nostalgia,” says designer Niek. “Instead of just being a throwback, a direct imitation of an existing 90s operating system, we wanted this to be as if a super fresh OS was just released, but in 1999.” There are of course, considering this is a project of pure fun and joy, a few smile-inducing tweaks in the website’s design too with a unique colour palette (customisable backgrounds are a must-try), martini glasses instead of close buttons and an ASCII art boot screen. It even involves its growing community with a guestbook for users to comment on and a shop with merchandise too.

Now fully launched (nicely timed with this insane heatwave we’re experiencing here in London), Marty, Niek and Lewis just want users to boot up Poolside.FM “when they’re pissed off or having a bad day,” Marty tells us.” Therefore treat this website as “an injection of serotonin straight to the brain" with its creator adding: “It feels like there’s a lot to be down about in the world today, so we decided to create somethings as a virtual escape.”

Interestingly, these three have never met either, working on this unique project over Google Hangouts for a year in their spare time. “We plan to go away for a weekend together (somewhere with a pool, naturally) to celebrate soon!” And considering how obsessed we’re becoming with this website, we’ll probably join them too.


Poolside FM


Poolside FM


Poolside FM


Poolside FM


Poolside FM