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Annoying web design

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#1 TymArtist


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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:10 AM

Last night I was reading through an article on a popular mailing list that I subscribe to, and they had an article that the people of this forum would find interesting. If you navigate to WXPNews and read the first article entitled "Turn Down that Web Site! And other New Web Annoyances" there are some very blanket statements made about web developers (errr web designers) in general.

Personally I found this article somewhere of a slap in the face to the web community at large, as though we're not trying our best to be professionals or are somehow overshadowed by the people who are still using <font> and <b> tags in their code...speaking of, check out the source code on the page where the article is posted to see the oudated code :D

Anyway, what do you guys think about this article? I emailed the author and let her know about the attempts in the web community, such as W3C Sites, to standardize and make usable all aspects of the web. It seems like most of the references here are to things developed by people back in 1997, those who are not web developers by trade, or those that just didn't pay attention to a few minor details. In fact, the first site on the list (for Brown) seems well put together.

Is web development today taking a turn for the worse, or are we getting better? What do you guys think?

Edited by TymArtist, 14 March 2006 - 05:46 PM.

#2 JohnMu


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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:27 AM

In general, I find the web has gotten better and better. More and more people are taking a good look at their sites and removing things that are not needed.

Any site that starts to make sound gets closed right away. I can't take it :). Personal site or not, it's gone. Exception: music groups / bands

Animated GIFs? Who cares as long as they don't give me epileptic seizures :D

Frontpage 1.1 is a long way back, people are starting to concentrate on content and are starting to use better templates and many smaller companies even have some sort of web-designer do their pages (not everywhere, but more so).

The one thing that gets on my nerve however, is when a medium/high-profile site is "IE-only" and breaks on all other browsers. I can accept that from Microsoft (what else would you expect?), but any other site that breaks in Firefox really needs a VERY LARGE bonus for me to keep me as a user.

Another one of my peeves that makes me close the tab right away is when non-private sites are hosted with free-hosters who add hidden cookies, popups, popunders, etc. I mean really: do they expect me to fight against the ads and still have time to read their content? My click-finger is a scarce resource - if I have the choice between clicking 5 popups out of the way or clicking once to close the tab, my choice is easy ;-)

Edit: oh yeah, the right-click blockers: they just make me laugh!

Of course that article is just a bunch of ranting by someone who has no idea about web development. I mean really, once you know how it works - you drop the visual designers and go to Notepad, not the other way around :D LOL!


Edited by softplus, 14 March 2006 - 10:28 AM.

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:28 AM

The article certainly reads like a gut reaction to a few sites the author had visited recently. My feeling coming out of the article is that this author did no research at all into what was new or novel in web design. The article seems, like you said, to be based on the kind of design done by people who don't follow the latest techniques.

Now, having said that, there are a LOT of web design companies out there who do exactly this - websites using the latest in 'flashy' technology and the oldest in 'standards'.

One SEO project I've been working on recently has exactly that problem - the site owner has an expensive site management contract with the design firm, and as a result it's been nearly impossible for him to get any of my company's suggestions implemented - even something as simple as a switch to styled H1 tags instead of FONT tags for the site headers.

Every request he makes, the design company returns with some empty statement claiming that what he wants done will 'break their design' or 'damage the careful SEO work' they'd done on the design. (Which, by the way, is not Black Hat - as far as I can tell, they did NOTHING AT ALL in the way of SEO.)

I think that web design is taking a turn for the better right now. However, the web design community is large and very easy to enter - so this is a very slow and lumbering turn. I'm sure that, over the second decade of web development, we'll see some serious developments for the better - but a lot of this bad design will be with us for many years, either in the form of un-updated sites or design companies who are more concerned with gouging customers than with maintaining a connection with current design thought.

[edit] removed a nonsensical sentence fragment :) [/edit]

Edited by joedolson, 14 March 2006 - 10:29 AM.

#4 Adrian


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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:50 AM

That would've been more appropriate if it had been written in 1999.
Java applets and annoying JS effects were in full swing around that kind of time, Geocities anyone? :)

Things have gotten a lot better, many more professional sites are taking acocunt of web standards and accessibility. I would argue there are a lot more high quality sites out there now, than there were 5 years ago.

the olden days of the Internet, back when Web pages consisted of mostly text and a few photos, and those who wanted to get really fancy might include an animated .gif or two? That was when we painstakingly wrote HTML code in Notepad and uploaded individual files to our Web servers with an FTP program. Those were the days

Stupid. That's when a lot of text would have been full width (much like in that article actually!) making it more difficult to read. Using IE3 and it's default grey background with a few <hr>'s for seperation and images slapped in haphazardly.

Personally I much prefer the landscape of creativity we have now to that. Apps like Wordpress and Flickr to make publishing content so much easier.

Yes people should be judicious with the things they slap all voer their web pages, but that is nothing new, garish web design has been around for years.

CSS Zen Garden 1996 style - How many of those kinds of site do you see now? The very title of it suggests 10 years ago we had awful design like that, lol, why is the complaint in that article anything remotely new?

Slow news day?

#5 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:54 AM

I'd never seen that particular Zen Garden style - my god, that was hideous.

Thanks, Adrian, for the ... wait - why am I thanking you for that?


#6 travis


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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:41 AM

Anyway, what do you guys think about this article?

I think that person is a web designer or sorts who does not know how to do anything interesting, so they criticize it. Its like this. If you dont like it, dont look at it. Life is too short.

It always amazes me that people criticize quite respectable websites, when there are 8.9 Billion worse pages thay could have picked on. Its like art. A website stirs a response, and sometimes its to inspire and other times, its purely to provide some necessary information.

But.. to be fair to the author, when I speak to people and mention I do web and database design, a lot of people talk about why the internet is not suitable for their needs.

From professionals to your average Joe, the common theme we hear today is that the search engines are crowded with inappropriate results.

If their ability to talk about their experiences online is matched by my ability to listen, then I usually learn quite a bit about the design process from a pure customers' perspective.

Websites are available to manufacture for everybody now, and whether you like what they design or not, they are going to die trying.

To commentate on that process and single out individual designs or designers is an exercise in futility.

#7 cre8pc


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Posted 14 March 2006 - 12:38 PM

I think web design is maturing and the article is outdated information.

I cut web designers a lot of slack. These days they are expected to know an extreme wide variety of skills - from design, to persuasive design, to organic seo, accessibility, programming (of many types), a zillion types of software, and user centered design - not to mention keep up with web standards.

In my opinion, they are not paid nearly what they deserve. Those that are are working for themselves or companies smart enough to know they need the cream of the crop on their team.

Mainstream "I wanna website" folks don't understand web site visitors and their needs. They want a site that works for themselves or a small group. They don't understand The Internet.

Yesterday I was on a conference call with a client for whom I conducted a usability report. Their site is a local site, aimed at particular region in a USA state. They've done great work and just needed fine tuning. She told me that it has surprised them the many different types of people who come to their site. Many are what I call "accidental tourists". She said people from all over the world land on their site - and leave, once they realize the stores are nowhere near where they live.

This means they have to work harder at keywords, landing pages, etc. However, their designer never considered this. The design company is likely thinking that only local will visit the site, because that's what the site is about.

This is Internet. It's global. Gigantic. Search engines will drop you off anywhere.

The challenge now is to create a web site, or homepage, or landing pages, that meet and greet, guide and persuade and send the lost ones away with grace.

#8 send2paul


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Posted 14 March 2006 - 04:10 PM


The design company is likely thinking that only local will visit the site, because that's what the site is about.

- never a truer word was spoken. And, in my experience, a large percentage of local newspaper/local media websites are guilty of this.

I use the Google Alerts system to feed me info on different topics, mainly used for blogging. There are many occasions when I follow the link to the newspaper item - and I have no idea where the newspaper originates from. I have to scour the news items for clues, or try to find the About Us link - because even the page title, or newspaper title, doesn't actually tell you what small town media news you are reading.

#9 JohnMu


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Posted 16 March 2006 - 08:12 AM

How about this page for a usability nightmare:

Two pages in one, millions of strange tags... open it with javascript disabled! The W3C validator shows over 550 errors :)

I thought it was really neat how they put two pages of content into one, it makes changing pages really fast. But it could be done differently :D.

Can anyone find a good example of that technique without the usability issues of this page?


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