subexpression - 6:50 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)
I have to agree that it's square...very boxy and closed up.
It's a circa 1995 table-based layout.
Newer "breathable" and open layouts are div-based and rely on CSS for presentation. This would allow for easy redesigns from time to time...editing images and CSS...rather than reams of markup. Table-based layouts are classified as "Presentational Markup". Building web interfaces in this manner will 'rat-hole' the design into an inflexible and unmanageable mess. Whereas, if you separate the markup from presentation, you're left with a descriptive html document which can be anything the stylesheet determines.
My sole criticism is aimed at the layout. No, it's not paranoid rectanglophobia.
This site does indeed look amateurish, probably because it's following some sort of 'Jakob Nielsen' design philosophy. Some designers have the belief (yes, it's a belief) that usability is so important that visual aesthetics are neglected and even avoided intentionally. On the other hand, many interaction designers are poor graphic designers...lacking the skill set to create visually engaging interfaces. The converse is also true...graphic designers who have no interaction design experience...yeah, we've all seen those 'pretty' websites which are usability nightmares.
In my opinion, closing everything in with hard lines impedes users' visual freedom.
Also, having too much zebra-striped color (even the cornflower blue) overloads the brain. If you're devoting a considerable number of neurons on problem solving, there's no sense wasting brain power on unnecessary optical input.
The understandable desire for round buttons, rounded corners, and soft rounded things is the mind's way of coping with the inherently square (rectangular) world of the web.