The degeneration of Disney Store UK

Disney Store UK, once brilliantly created by Andy Clarke’s Stuff and Nonsense, has degenerated into a horrible and ugly mess of non-standard “HTML”. The new site is built on almost 100% presentational table-tag-soup markup spiced up by zillions of Spacer Images. That’s what I call progress.

Andy Clarke has posted a very diplomatic response in Of mice and men. Molly E. Holzschlag, being a web standards evangelist and Group Lead for The Web Standards Project, hits a bit harder in An Open Letter to Disney Store UK. And rightly so. It doesn’t stop there - Mike Davies has posted his opinions on the accessibility of the new site in Spacer Image - Disney Store’s number one gift idea this Christmas.

Once a showcase for commercial websites embracing web standards, Disney Store UK is now a prime example of regressive web development.

Posted on November 3, 2005 in Quicklinks, Web Standards


  1. Yes, it’s really a sad day. I mean, spacer GIFs! Come on!

    However, good to see that Andy definitely was the bigger man.

  2. haha, that is soooo sad. Would be great to know what made them go back to the spacers, mayby they missed them so much. I’ve heard that Disneys next movie will be called ‘The seven spacer gifs’.

  3. November 3, 2005 by Jimmy Nordlund

    What a shame. :(

  4. I can understand when small or medium sized sites that were redesigned standards based revert to table-tag-soup markup. Master Standards-knowledgeable designers are few.

    Still, on a site as large as Disney’s with it’s budget, wouldn’t they have been able to find a “different” standards designer?

    I would be curious to know what percentage of high profile/large company sites have reverted back to soupy markup after standards markup.

  5. November 4, 2005 by Paul D

    The Google screenshot is priceless.

  6. I think it is quite good really; it illustrates the effects not thinking about semantics, etc.

  7. It is hard to believe that a company the size of Disney could end up with such a bad website - it is awful on so many levels!

    Priceless that Google has decided the site is about ‘spacer image’ - must be one of the most common phrases on the page!

    I would dearly love to know if the decision to abandon web standards and style separated content was a conscience one on Disney’s part, and if so - why?

    Regardless of the above question, I think it’s clear the designer ‘disney’ know web standards (sorry, couldn’t resist).

  8. November 4, 2005 by Devon

    And when I went to it, the page took a relatively long time to load. That’s sick.

    Imagine if the US military suddenly started fighting with WW2 era equipment and weapons?

  9. A shame really, and it wasn’t that long ago it was launched, was it?… Would be interesting to hear the reasoning behind the redesign.

  10. Very sad indeed. I don’t think I would’ve ever expected this, especially since the previous design was a gem! Oh well, I can’t say it surprises me too much.

    I guess whoever was handed the reigns to that project decided it was too “difficult” to maintain, what with that newfangled CSS and XHTML.


  11. Please excuse me if this is common knowledge, but was this site developed in-house or by contract? That could make a large bit of difference in whether or not Disney knew what they were getting themselves into.

  12. November 5, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Beth: I haven’t seen any info on whether the site was developed in-house or not.

  13. I’m a bit confused? I checked the site, viewed the source, searched for the word “spacer” and not a one was found. Was this a reference as to the fact that it’s a table layout and they use images as cell content?

    Please explain!

  14. November 6, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jon: Apparently they have now removed “Spacer Image” from the alt attributes. So maybe someone working on that site has seen at least one of the posts about it. But they still have a long, long way to go before that site is anywhere near as standards compliant, accessible, usable, and good looking as the old site was.

  15. Someone must be listening - they have also changed the alt-text phone number!

    Unfortunatly it the page is still a bag of arse - I hate how the background colour/graphic chnages from section to section!!

  16. It’s hard to believe that store was WAI compliant once in life, seeing nowadays aspect… I’m really impressed…

  17. Its seems Disney working on this issue. Its pass the Bobby( level A auto check. Good for Disney.

  18. You make me said…. Unfortunately, this is not only the one example of web degeneration.

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