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imroy's Journal: How to write BAD web sites 1

Journal by imroy

Thanks to Stumbleupon, I recently came across Josiah Cole's 19 Things NOT To Do When Building a Website. He concentrates mainly on commercial websites, which is something I have not been involved with. But I have created a number of small web sites, mainly for myself or my family. And I've been using the Internet and World Wide Web for over ten years now, so I have a good idea of things that web sites do to annoy me. Here are some of my thoughts on features to really avoid when creating a web site, or even just a single page.

How to write BAD web sites.

  1. Have one big Flash object
    I use Firefox 2.0 with the Flashblock extension. If I go to a website and all I see is Flashblock's 'play' buttion in the middle of a large area, I usually just close the tab. For a site to be all Flash typically means it has little or no content and is all show. No thanks, I'll go find something more interesting to do with my time.
  2. Force links to open in a new window
    Ever heard of tabs? It's annoying for links to open entire new browser windows. Is there a Firefox extension that can redirect a new window into a tab?
  3. Use JavaScript links
    Breaking tabbed browsing even more. If it looks like a link, I expect to be able to middle-click on it and have it open in a new tab. Even more annoying are the ones that simply do a document.location=http://.... WTF?
  4. Use JavaScript to reinvent the way page navigation works
    You know, games are fun. But when I'm trying to navigate a web site and find something, I might already be frustrated by your site layout. The last thing I want to do is have to figure out new rules for interacting with your website that are different to most other web sites. For example, I expect links to change the mouse cursor when the pointer is over them. Don't try to be clever by using the "onClick" event and JavaScript on images and div's. That's not a link. I can't middle-click on it to open a new tab. And here's something you might care about: search engines won't follow it.
  5. Play music in the background
    Surely people have heard of MP3's (even though my collection is mostly Ogg's). I also have a tuner card in my computer. At any point I could be listening to MP3/Oggs, the TV, or radio. And some site starts playing music or something else in the background. Ctrl-W. Bye bye.
  6. Use vague icons for navigation
    This might just be me, but I've always had problems with icons. I have trouble trying to figure out what they mean. Just give me text so I can read it. Is that a stick? A pen? A finger? What ?!?
  7. Use a disruptive background image
    Litter the page with animated GIF's
    Have 'Best viewed with Netscape/Internet Explorer' buttons
    Have a 'Designed for 800x600/1024x768' button
    Use table-heavy HTML created with a WYSIWYG HTML editor
    Use the <font> tag
    Change the font colour a lot
    Hello, 1996 called and they want their trashy web pages back! Seriously, we've been there, done that, and decided it was bad. Please use CSS, simple (verified) markup, and pastel colours. It's much easier to read and often uses less bandwidth.

As you might have noticed, two and a bit of my complaints deal with links. This is not a minor point. The World Wide Web is a huge collection of web pages and sites linked together by hyperlinks. Without links, the web would be useless. They are the number one feature on the web. New formats such as RSS/Atom feeds, and the semantic web do even more with links.

If a user has difficulty finding links, opening links, and bookmarking (or emailing) links, that web site or page has failed.
Simple as that. Make links usable.

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How to write BAD web sites

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