Tuesday, September 4, 2007

21 ’Elul 5767: Newspaper Carrier Day


Today’s news and commentary:Seeing that yesterday I kvetched about on-line job-hunting forms, today’s weird thing is my kvetching about Web-pages in general, which these days leave much to be desired. Enjoy and share the weirdness with your favorite newspaper carrier.


Things I do not like in Web pages
Aaron Solomon Adelman, PhD

1) Multipage articles. There is no point in splitting an article up into multiple parts. All it does is make more work for the person reading the article. If the person wants to read an article off-line, it makes for a nasty surprise for the reader to find out that he/she has to reconnect just to get the rest of the article. If the reader wants to save the article to his/her hard drive (e.g., for research purposes), each part must be saved individually. I am well aware that many sites allow one to "print" an article into a single-page, and a few allow one to access a "single page" version. However, these would be much less needed if articles were provided in single pages by default. Extra searching and extra clicking add up to extra annoyance and extra wasting of time and effort.

2) Advertising. I am well aware that some sites are supported by advertising. However, advertising that takes too long to load or is offensive to the reader in any way is not going to benefit anyone. Also, the more bandwidth ads waste and the less the user wants to see them, the more likely they are to be blocked and the less likely the user is to continue visiting said sites.

3) Pointless graphics, especially big ones. The point of graphics is to show things that cannot be shown properly or at all in text. Graphics should never, ever be used for text in any language supported by Unicode. Using graphics for mere text wastes bandwidth and makes the page less searchable. Some Web-page designers also throw in text graphics purely for the sake of aesthetics. Often this eats bandwidth and slows down the loading of pages dramatically. If I want to read a short article, I should not need to load ≥50 times more information than the actual content of the article to do so. Some people seem to be determined to take this concept to the next level of annoyance by adding gratuitous video, too.

Note: Bullets, stars, and various other dingbats are part of Unicode. There had better be a very good reason for using a graphic for these.

4) Links to a zillion other articles and even other things, especially with pictures or video. Some connectivity to the rest of the site is OK, but I do not need or want the whole site-map.

5) Noisy Web-pages. For the most part, these are just plain annoying. There always ought to be a warning before the user is subjected to any noise.

6) Sites that only work correctly with certain browsers. The point of HTML and other open standards is to be platform-independent. People who violate this rule ought to be fired.

7) Having to scroll through a long list where one can only see a few items at a time.

8) All Web pages ought to have titles that concisely and sufficiently describe what they are. It’s really annoying to have no idea what a Web page is because the composer used the title of the Web site and not the title of (for example) the article.

9) Resizing windows without permission is rude.

General rule of thumb: If a site takes forever to load over a 56K modem, it probably needs to be trimmed.

General rule of thumb: If a site is annoying to use, it needs to be fixed. This goes doubly so if the person using the site refers to the programmer using pejoratives.

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