Six things that suck about the Web in 2006

With 2006 coming to an end I wanted to post a little rant about some of the trends that I find really annoying about the Web this year. All in my personal opinion, of course, and with a healthy dose of exaggeration (meaning that you shouldn’t take every word literally - really, don’t). You have been warned.

  1. Overuse of JavaScript frameworks/libraries. Back to the 90’s, baby, except they were called DHTML libraries that time around. What is it with people learning a JavaScript library instead of learning to write JavaScript? It’s like learning Frontpage instead of HTML. Yes, script libraries can be great. But not when people use them because they can instead of because they should.
  2. Ajax. People seem to use Ajax for everything, accessibility and best practices be damned. Don’t get me wrong, Ajax can definitely be used well, but just like with Flash it is more common to see it used in the wrong place at the wrong time by people who don’t know what they’re doing or why.
  3. High contrast, light-on-dark designs. Argh, my eyes! I explained my feelings about this in Light text on dark background vs. readability.
  4. Headings that aren’t real text. They look good if done well. They let visually oriented designers choose any font they want. But from the user’s point of view they suck when you want to print, increase text size, or copy and paste text.
  5. Accessibility extremists and design zealots. By acting like fundamentalists unwilling to compromise, these people are contributing to making the Web less accessible and less usable. Accessibility extremists tend to do it by insulting proponents of universality and equal access, design zealots by disregarding usability, accessibility, and common sense in the name of “creativity”. Grow up, both of you.
  6. Over-wide, fixed width layouts. Go wide if you must. Use a fixed width if you don’t know how to make a flexible layout. But don’t do both. Horizontal scrolling, no thanks.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it. (Asbestos suit on.)

Posted on December 20, 2006 in Accessibility, JavaScript, Usability, Web Standards

Comments

  1. December 20, 2006 by Isaac Lin

    I wouldn’t say using a Javascript framework is the same as using FrontPage — you still need to know Javascript to use a framework/library. I too like to write my own code, and have spent a bit of time writing my own Javascript code to implement my own web page to draw paths using the Google Maps API — but honestly I am not sure if this was the best use of my time; there’s so many existing versions out there with many more features than I have put into mine so far. Why reinvent things like popup windows if the Yahoo UI libraries already have excellent implementations?

    I’m with you on light-on-dark designs. They need many more adjustments (as listed in your article) than they usually get to be readable.

  2. Yep, I have been guilty of at least 3 of those sins myself: light-on-dark designs, headings that aren’t real text, and (sniffle) being an Accessibility extremist. :o

    Light on dark: some clients really like it (and I do try to discourage it), so I try to pick colors that are not too extreme like I did for Sunshine Daydream.

    Headings: Same client.

    Accessibility: Too many to list, but the reasoning for this zealotism (is that a word?) was due to upper management speaking “gloom and doom” (read: lawsuit) for not adhering to WCAG Priority 2…

    Great points though. You really hit it with the AJAX craze that is sweeping the Web (and kind of goes along with your idea regarding JavaScript frameworks). We really need to stop taking ourselves so seriously in some aspects and take other things more seriously (like allowing WCAG 2 to slip by us relatively unnoticed… yikes!)

  3. Hey, you stole my list ;-)

    (That means I agree, especially on 1, 2, 5, and 6)

  4. Roger, I think you’re way off on number one. It’s nothing like learning Frontpage instead of HTML. Every programming language has frameworks, IDEs, and libraries — why should Javascript be different? Do you also think people should learn to write binary code that manipulates hardware directly instead of learning a language like C or C++? It’s frameworks all the way down — abstraction after abstraction.

    By your logic, I could also say that you shouldn’t use PHP. You shouldn’t use Apache. You shouldn’t use Linux. You should do nothing but write 1s and 0s because anything else is like learning Frontpage instead of HTML.

    What practical, real-world problems do you see with Javascript frameworks?

    Aside from that, I largely agree with your list. Well done! :)

  5. One more thing on the Javascript frameworks…

    …which frameworks don’t require you to know Javascript in order to use them? None of them, that I know of (except maybe Prototype).

  6. Some I agree with, some not.

    I think that most of the quality JavaScript libraries require you to know a thing or two about JavaScript and, like libraries in any other language, reward you more for knowing more. Some of them (particularly Prototype and MochiKit) try to make JavaScript “feel like” some other language (Ruby and Python, respectively), and I don’t think that’s right, but I do feel that good libraries are a good thing — I use libraries on the server side already, so why not on the client side, too?

    As for headings, I think it depends on how they work. Mark and Mike have been doing a ton of work on sIFR to improve its friendliness, and I think it’s starting to pay off. I’m still not personally a fan of it, but it’s getting to be pretty good for people who want to choose the font without resorting to fixed-size images.

  7. December 20, 2006 by Gabrielle Gayheart

    Agree…. Although, it seems like overuse of Google ads should be there, too, or at least get an “honorable mention.”

  8. There’s a difference between Javascript libraries that drop in chunks of code, and Javascript libraries that provide shortcuts, and/or classes that still require knowledge of Javascript.

    Take Rails or Django for instance. Is it possible to create a Rails or Django app by simply taking chunks of pre-packaged code and dropping them in?

    Yes.

    But to do anything substantial, you also need to know Ruby and Python.

    Javascript libraries like Prototype and Scriptaculous, by themselves, don’t do anything. You need to hook them up in the proper Javascript context to actually make stuff happen.

    The difference between Frontpage and Javascript libraries like the above?

    Frontpage pretends HTML doesn’t exist. The Javascipt libraries say, here, use this for convenience in your javascript code.

    Y’know. Like all other language libraries.

  9. December 20, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    What practical, real-world problems do you see with Javascript frameworks?

    1. People who learn just a little bit of JavaScript and then jump into one of the libraries because it lets them create animations and other visual effects easily have a hard time solving JavaScript problems when they run into them.
    2. Because libraries tend to use syntax that isn’t very JavaScript-like, everybody on a team has to learn the same framework/library in order to understand their co-workers’ code. That may be fine if everybody agrees on which one to use, but what about maintainability down the road? What if/when a project is handed over?

    First learn JavaScript thoroughly, then feel free to use a library when it makes sense to do so.

    But fair enough, the comparison to Frontpage is a little harsh. I did tell you about the healthy dose of exaggeration :-).

  10. December 20, 2006 by Brett Mitchell

    I beg to differ about the light on dark backgrounds - paper is reflected light (and printed with ink), so dark bleeds a bit, making the letters bigger. Screen is emitted light, so LIGHT colors bleed a bit, and that makes the letters smaller.

    I know it was discussed to death, but I’m still a fan of it, with proper usage of course.

    White on Black looks terrible, but the right combination… http://www.bartelme.at/ looks wonderful, imo… How readable it is can be up for debate, but when you can override it with client side stylesheets anyway I don’t see the problem.

  11. People who learn just a little bit of JavaScript and then jump into one of the libraries because it lets them create animations and other visual effects easily have a hard time solving JavaScript problems when they run into them.

    This is true if someone is learning and using Javascript in a production setting. But it’s incredibly useful for those people just starting out.

    Some people may enjoy learning language from the gound up — building on fundamentals. Others can learn haphazardly, employing various techniques until reaching a critical mass of understanding.

    First learn JavaScript thoroughly, then feel free to use a library when it makes sense to do so.

    Ideally, perhaps.

    I think the issue here isn’t that omglibrariessuck but that because these are standard Javascript libraries, in a perfect world, everyone knows how the library is built and how the pieces work.

    But that’s silly unless you can put everything on hold whilst you master Javascript.

    You’ve got to balance comprehension and skill with the language with usage of a library that can make things simple enough so that you can move on to other areas.

    You can always go back and look through the library code later.

  12. I think number 7 in the list is crying out to be ‘The release of IE7’. OK it was an improvement on it’s predecessor, but it still mostly sucks.

    Definitely agree with 2,4 and 6.

  13. People who learn just a little bit of JavaScript and then jump into one of the libraries because it lets them create animations and other visual effects easily have a hard time solving JavaScript problems when they run into them.

    Okay, but does this mean the libraries suck? I’d say this means those people suck. Whether you know Javascript inside and out or not, you can abuse it’s power. Same with Flash, CSS, or any other technology. These aren’t the fault of the technologies — it’s the fault of those who abuse them.

    Because libraries tend to use syntax that isn’t very JavaScript-like, everybody on a team has to learn the same framework/library in order to understand their co-workers’ code

    It’s a nice argument, but what libraries actually do this? Prototype is the only one I can think of that alters Javascript syntax much, and even that’s not terribly significant. Most of the libraries are just straight Javascript (I personally like YUI best).

    But fair enough, the comparison to Frontpage is a little harsh. I did tell you about the healthy dose of exaggeration :-)

    Hehe. Indeed. :)

  14. I think number 7 in the list is crying out to be ‘The release of IE7’. OK it was an improvement on it’s predecessor, but it still mostly sucks.

    Ho can an improvement possibly be one of the worst things to happen to the web in 2006?

    Maybe it’s one of the biggest disappointments, but I’m still much happier with IE7 than without it.

  15. December 20, 2006 by Isaac Lin

    I’m not quite sure how a client-side Javascript library can be integrated into a web page without using pure Javascript syntax? As far as I know, Javascript doesn’t have the language features to support this.

    I do agree that once you start using one of the more elaborate frameworks, you are locked into using it for the project’s lifetime, and this is a definite consideration. However, if you roll out your own implementation of various advanced features, you are going to run into the same maintenance issue, and there will be no chance of hiring a new person with experience with your custom framework. So there is a complexity threshold above which you might be better off using a common framework versus your own proprietary version (just as with any language and development environment, there is a tradeoff with using third-party components).

  16. December 20, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Okay, but does this mean the libraries suck? I’d say this means those people suck.

    Yes, you’re right. That’s what I mean by “Yes, script libraries can be great. But not when people use them because they can instead of because they should.”.

  17. I personally don’t have a problem using sites that are light on dark, but I take the point that it’s not the same for everyone and you should either use dark on light or provide an easily accessed alternative stylesheet.

    I don’t like the idea of saying “well, the user can always use their own stylesheet” or other similar excuses. People are more likely to just not visit the site than bother trying to make it readable for themselves (that’s our job).

  18. Agree with all points; although I don’t think my top 6 list would look exactly like yours. Because I acquired a mobile device with decent web browser on a decent affordable GPRS plan this year I’ve actually been using mobile web browsing on a mobile device this year … and my gripe would have to be sites that aren’t usable/accessible from a mobile device. File sizes, fixed width, frames, no mobile device alt stylesheets. I’ve largely ignored mobile devices when designing - now that I’m a user I’ll be paying more attention to that in the coming year.

  19. Yes, you’re right. That’s what I mean by “Yes, script libraries can be great. But not when people use them because they can instead of because they should.”.

    I guess you did say that, huh? :)

    I guess it’s just the calling out of frameworks that seems odd to me. Couldn’t a script abuser do just as much damage with straight Javascript as they do with a framework? Maybe what you really mean by number one is “overuse of Javascript for the sake of have Javascript, rather than with good reason?”

    In that case, numbers one and two are pretty much the same thing. :)

    I think it’s just a pet peeve of mine when technologies get blamed for bad design. No one seems to say “HTML SUCKS!,” despite all the thousands of table-based, inaccessible HTML sites out there. But people have no problem saying “Flash sucks,” or “Javascript sucks,” or “AJAX sucks.”

    Seems odd to me.

  20. One word: MySpace

    (winces)

  21. @BilleeD: wow, wish I had your upper management zealotism (I’ll give that word ;o) at my workplace … despite very public statements of their “Level 3 compliance”, their software testing department has never tested for accessibility AT ALL. Thus in reality their sites don’t usually match Level 1 …

  22. Why only six?

  23. I could’t agree more about #3 (High contrast, light-on-dark designs). I’m shocked that there aren’t more rants about this. Your eyes should never burn when reading a website. Usability 101.

    Nearly as annoying (and I think someone else mentioned this) is the rampant overuse of Google ads. They’re never attractive and rarely even relevant. It seems to be yet another case of design and usability taking back seat to the almighty dollar. Sad, but I suppose it pays the bills.

  24. It seems to be yet another case of design and usability taking back seat to the almighty dollar.

    Right, because Google Ads are sooo brilliantly designed and look sooo sexy on screen. Damn everything else, all I want is that gorgeous Google Ads!

    /sarcasam

    :)

  25. See ,what happened with this website: www.265.com

    It demolished most of the points.

  26. I absolutely agree with the last statement, design trends this year took a dive in my opinion. Nothing really new or trend setting.

  27. Jeff:

    As I said, IE7 was an improvement on IE6. But it still falls short of what people were expecting/hoping it would improve on (real basic stuff like supporting :focus on any element), so we will still be battling with it’s limitations for years to come.

    Therefore in my eyes it sucks and would be added to my own list. Just my opinion of course ;)

  28. December 21, 2006 by Johan Sjostrand

    AMEN on #5.

  29. I know this is probably outside the scope of this article, but actually I think my biggest gripe with 2006 is spam. It is just totally out of control. It’s affecting my business now because clients and associates have such tight restrictions on incoming mail that I’m continually getting responses along the lines of “Sorry it took so long to get back to you - I just found your email in my spam/junk email folder”.

    Grh.

    • Number one: 80% agreement.
    • Number two: 90% agreement.
    • Number six: 100% agreement.
  30. Well put together. I agree completely with #2 and #6. I feel that #2 is driven mainly by the cool and now factor more then anything else and over the next year or two you will see its use fall but its practical use rise. #6 is just bad design and, to me, shows great ignorance on the part of the designer towards his audience.

    It is definitely worth taking the extra time and work to build a highly adaptable site that can adjust to its environment.

    I however have some disagreement with #5. In general public use, yes this is an issue, however when it comes to private endeavors and local based development I think in some cases design and creativity can over shadow usability if the project is meant to engage and force the user to think or solve an issue. Again, use in the general public, yes by all means usability and accessibility need to be paramount, but if you know the demographic your targeting well enough I think you can forgo some accessibility and usability. This will provide for a more engaging and in-depth experience as opposed to the mundane, day to day interactive and web standards in the world.

  31. 100% agree, just I’d say the most important are 5 and 4

  32. I would agree with most of these on the list. Not to dive into the JS framework war, but I agree with your point being made (exaggeration aside). I see the same thing with PHP frameworks. People will use them without understanding how it works/functions at the core, usually resulting in a system with security holes or performance issues. Now, this is not the case for ALL - and it is not to the fault of the PHP frameworks (there are some good ones out there) - it is the abuse of the individual who won’t take the time to learn why/how he is doing things.

    I think the same holds true for JS. My biggest complaint with them is the filesize of the libraries. This may not be a big deal to some, but I find it much easier to write my own library/framework for a specific project at hand, rather than throw in an entire library to use a small amount of functions. Its like Adobe GoLive’s output of an entire library of JS, just to have a ‘popup window’ function (I have seen this several places). Again, it isn’t the fault of the technology.

    I prefer not to use a bunch of frameworks simply for the bloat factor. I don’t use alot, and where I do use it I can make my own library. It makes the weight of the request smaller, plus I am using only what I need.

    Again, not that I think they are bad - it’s the abuse of them that is bad. However, I do agree that people should know JS before working with them, at least a little bit!

  33. “#4 - Headings that aren’t real text” is an age-old pain in the behind for a lot of us, and unfortunately it’s still going strong in 2006.

    Let’s not forget the search issue, when arguing against image headings.

    Though all search engines are different we all know for sure that an image heading always ranks way lower than real text. (Assuming that an ALT-text has been provided to begin with, for it to be indexed at all)

    Using the browser’s own search feature on a page with image headings produces a catastrophic result. You search the page for a word that is in a heading and you come up blank! That’s just plain wrong.

  34. Google ads wouldn’t be as bad if they were somehow distinguished from the primary content on the page. Positioning them between an article’s heading and first paragraph is especially distracting. ;)

  35. Google ads wouldn’t be as bad if they were somehow distinguished from the primary content on the page. Positioning them between an article’s heading and first paragraph is especially distracting. ;)

  36. Double posts are also annoying. Sorry.

  37. You could cast the whole Javascript library thing into a more positive light by saying that frameworks are inspiring a whole new generation of JS programmers, but this time it’s being done right, i.e. using unobtrusive, accessible, robust, cross-browser code. I think frameworks in general are one of the best things to happen in 2006. Just as Ruby on Rails and Django are encouraging programmers and designers to use good coding practices, and also getting them into the excellent languages that drive the frameworks, then so too are Javascript frameworks encouraging people to take another look at this underrated and misunderstood language. I don’t see anything wrong with getting into a framework first and using that as a catalyst for exploring the language that drives it further. The fact that people are still not taking accessibility in general seriously is something that shouldn’t be blamed on frameworks but, as others have pointed out, on bad developers.

    Regarding light on dark, I was, until about a year ago, doing all my text editing (HTML, CSS, code of various sorts) using default dark on light syntax colouring. After many years in front of a screen I was noticing an increase in eye strain. I was inspired by various screencasts on the net showing light on dark schemes and decided to try it out. I was delighted to find that it did indeed reduce eye strain quite dramatically and now I find it hard to edit text for more than about 5 minutes in a dark on light scenario as it seems blazingly bright. I just find text that much easier to read in this configuration. I’m particularly fond on white on #414141; it’s like dark silk on the eyes.

    So it’s obviously a very subjective issue. Perhaps your point #3 should be “sites that don’t offer a light-on-dark / dark-on-light choice”? Your site does particularly well in this regard, I should add. :)

  38. To respond to your interesting points:

    1. I don’t mind the amount of use of frameworks so much as misuse of them. As you said, don’t learn the framework learn Javascript. Also, use JavaScript (and hence the framework) for progressive enhancement. This means loading the enhancements after the basic functionality, not as part of the general page load. I like my pages to load some time this century not after a couple of megs of un-minified JavaScript downloads.

    2. It’s all about progressive enhancement.

    3. From an accessibility point of view High contrast = good. Low contrast = bad. Style of contrast doesn’t matter as much, many assistive package come with inverts to reverse what you see. What works for different people depends on their needs. As long as contrast exists you’ve made a start. There is never a one size fits all solution.

    4. I would somewhat agree with this. A lot of assistive package include magnifiers. Browsers are doing more zooming as well as text size (Opera and IE7). Ideally text in headers is best, but I doesn’t break my heart when it isn’t (as long as it’s still ok for Screen readers).

    5. I think you need to be vary careful about this point. Designers moving from print or even ‘screen’ design to web and doing a terrible job isn’t new. I wouldn’t call it this year’s problem, it never went away after .bomb.

    On the other hand ‘accessibility zealots’ is a pretty difficult thing to deal with. Accessibility struggles between the theoretical support environments of the academic world, and the pragmatism of the business world. However, too much pragmatism in business is dangerous. I’ve seen many instances of ‘just good enough’ becoming ‘the only accessibility we will need to do ever’. While trying too hard to make everything accessible to everyone won’t sell the cause, trying too little gives us all a bad name.

    While I’m not going to focus on it, universal access is not the same as accessibility. While they often go hand in hand, there are cases where they conflict. In those cases which do you choose, the one that helps people with a life long impairment, or the one to help people use PDAs with more ease? Try not to condemn those who care about people with disabilities, even when they are too fervent in their message.

    1. This is a good point.

    Thought provoking read :)

  39. I think what really sucks are the server-side helpers generating on-the-fly javascript (like those in Ruby on Rails, CakePHP, etc). The generated code is generally a mess, is obtrusive and is repeated ever and ever in each web page. You don’t even have to know the least bit thing about javascript since the helper will do it for you. That sucks.

    I do feel the same about Google’s, Yahoo’s and Adobe’s frameworks. They seem like to be too abstract from the language and obviously bloated with far too much unneeded features.

    In fact there’s only one javascript framework I’m very happy with: mootools. Small, highly modular and very simple to dive in. I did learn a lot about the language itself and the DOM since I use it. Just have a look to their Getting Started page and to this series of articles.

  40. I think what really sucks are the server-side helpers generating on-the-fly javascript (like those in Ruby on Rails, CakePHP, etc). The generated code is generally a mess, is obtrusive and is repeated ever and ever in each web page. You don’t even have to know the least bit thing about javascript since the helper will do it for you. That sucks.

    Can’t argue with that. Obviously I’m biased, but I much prefer Django’s approach of staying out of the Javascript business.

    There are enough good Javascript frameworks out there — a server-side framework like Rails or CakePHP shouldn’t be picking one over another. They should be concentrating on the sever-side and letting the front-end developer choose to use a Javascript framework or not — and if so, pick which one.

  41. Over-wide? What’s over-wide? 900px, 1010px? Is the issue that people are creating over-wide designs or that other people use sucky display resolutions? If you’re not using > 1024 horizontal you deserve all the horizontal scrolling, fire and brimstone you get, and I hope Santa leaves you a lump of coal. If you’re visually impaired - disable CSS.

    Discussions about AJAX are so last year.

  42. @Streaky: sorry, but I can’t agree with that.

    Yes, there are more and more people with a 1024 or higher resolution, but there is still a great amount of people that are using a resolution lower than 1024. You don’t want to give those users a nasty horizontal scrollbar for Christmas. There are enough ways to create a design that looks good and functions well on both greater and lower than a 1024 resolution.

    Then again designing for a resolution is a totally wrong approach. You can’t assume that a user with a 1024 resolution is always using the whole screen for his/her browser. Which means that not only the <1024 users will get a horizontal scrollbar, but also the users that aren’t using a maximized window. Besides, also the viewport of the browser is always smaller due to stuff like bookmarks, scrollbars etc.

    I find it quite annoying when I’m forced to run my browser in a maximized window, just to be able to see all the content of a website. I do have other stuff on my desktop that I would like to see without switching between windows.

  43. I find it quite annoying when I’m forced to run my browser in a maximized window, just to be able to see all the content of a website. I do have other stuff on my desktop that I would like to see without switching between windows.

    Then you, sir, should definitely be running a higher resolution. :)

    I basically agree with you — 1024w is still the most common resolution out there, and unless you have a very niche site and know your audience will be using higher-res monitors, it’s usually a bad idea to go wider than what will fit on 1024w.

    But if you know that you get annoyed when a site requires you to maximize your window and you know that most site designs today are aimed at windows that are 1024w — why wouldn’t you get a higher-res monitor?

    To me, that’s basically the same as saying, “I have incredibly poor vision and can’t read text that is smaller than 24pt. I refuse to get glasses and expect you to make your type really big to accommodate my unusual situation.” When your preference is a minority one and you refuse to make use of the technology available to assist you — well, is that really the web designer’s fault?

    The evidence is that most people still browse maximized and most of those who don’t are on higher-res screens. You’re in the minority by choice — you could easily get a higher-res monitor so you could view 1024w sites without being maximized, and you’ve chosen not to. At some point, it has to be on you and not on the web designer.

    But again, I agree that going wider than 1024 is still usually a mistake.

  44. Streaky - see my point above about mobile devices … I’m running 240x320 … nowhere near your stated minimum of 1024; so …

  45. @Jeff

    Of course there are boundaries to what a designer can do and wants to do.

    I agree with you that it isn’t the designer’s fault that those who refuse to buy glasses might have problems with the website, but having to buy a new monitor is a luxury problem and not everybody has the money for it. Obviously, that isn’t the fault of the designer, but in my opinion those people should be able to use a website without having to use the horizontal scrollbar.

    Then again it is the choice of the designer and I would choose for a design that functions well on both <1024w and >1024w.

    It isn’t that hard. This site is a perfect example, it functions perfectly on both <1024w and >1024w.

    By the way, I am using a >1024 resolution and yes, perhaps this all might be a bit too much hairsplitting. :).

  46. December 22, 2006 by EurekaBrowncoat

    The light text on dark background can be nice, and easier for prolonged use than the paper white field, but color combinations need to be tested. Some folks, especially those with astigmatism, cannot read blue text on dark blue/black backgrounds.

    Nice list. Merry Christmas to all.

  47. @Tim: Well said. I guess I just think sometimes people confuse comfort with accessibility. Being able to view a website without horizontal scrollbars is a comfort. It’s a nice thing to do for your visitors, and I definitely think most sites ought to be designed such that most users don’t have to scroll horizontally — but having sites wider than user’s browser windows is not an accessibility problem. The scroll bars are there precisely so you can access the rest of the page.

    The light-on-dark thing vs. dark-on-light thing is similar. Yes, a lot of people have a preference one way or another, but neither is an accessibility problem.

    Being able to access content is not the same as being about to access it comfortably. The later is much more difficult for a designer to achieve for his/her entire audience because it takes so many more personal factors into account. Thus, most designer are resigned to striving for 100% accessible content, and as much comfort as possible for the largest number of visitors possible.

    Not that I think you, Tim, were saying any of that. It just made me think of it. :)

  48. @Jeff

    Well, I’ve got nothing to add. Can’t agree with you more :)

  49. December 22, 2006 by Isaac Lin

    Jeff, I disagree with just chalking up light-on-dark layouts as a personal preference, because most of the issues experienced are due to ignorance of the various steps that can readily be done to improve the legibility of such layouts for everyone, based on studies and years of experience with typography and design. (Of course, it is not just light-on-dark layouts that could be improved by using the existing research and knowledge.)

  50. Definitely agree on all of it, especially the AJAX bit. I’ve seen sites that use AJAX for every possible thing, including site navigation. A good example of properly used AJAX could be Youtube.

  51. December 23, 2006 by kabari

    To their credit, javascript libraries do ease the learning curve of those who really do want to learn javascript. Trying things with libraries first, then finding out how to do them the “normal” way really sped up my learning of the language. (it may be a special case though since I’m an actionscript developer and the libraries turn JS into AS sort of.)

    What I am completely sick of though is Lightbox and that same rotating circle of a preloader that EVERYONE uses to show javascript loading. I actually made about 10 other ones for people to download and use.

  52. Jeff, I disagree with just chalking up light-on-dark layouts as a personal preference, because most of the issues experienced are due to ignorance of the various steps that can readily be done to improve the legibility of such layouts for everyone

    You’re right.

    To say “light on dark is unreadable” or “dark on light is unreadable” is to totally oversimplify the matter. In reality, both can be perfectly readable by the vast majority of humans, provided they occur in the context of quality design (as you note, there are certain typographic guidelines for making light text on a dark background more readable, for example).

    But there still is a matter of personal preference at play. Given two very-well-designed sites, one of which has dark-on-light text and the other has light-on-dark, most people will display a predilection towards one or the other. Both are readable, and thereby accessible — the reader simply prefers one over the other. This is the situation I’m referring to.

    At this point, I don’t think there’s much a designer can do. He/she has already put together a well-crafted piece, and everyone is able to access it. Either way he/she goes (light-on-dark or dark-onlight), he/she is bound to go against the preference of a large portion of the viewers.

  53. Yes, there are more and more people with a 1024 or higher resolution, but there is still a great amount of people that are using a resolution lower than 1024.

    No, simply nobody does it, I don’t know where you’re getting your stats from but the ones I read every day say exactly the opposite, I make < 1024w @ less than 4% of visitors across the board, technical and non technical sites, large and small, ignoring if people do or don’t, if we as developers pander to these people then they’ll never switch resolution anyways.

    see my point above about mobile devices … I’m running 240x320

    Sure, but most mobile devices compensate, then the point is font size, and horizontal resolution has no effect on that.

    Any other demographic is text-mode browsers and robots, and they [those browsers] don’t care about CSS, and you shouldn’t be creating page layouts with tables.

  54. Well done on the exaggeration level. This posting alone will increase your traffic alone by a few thousand percent, your technorati index by few trillion, and your mozzarella be flown-in by Fedex. Your style is how more “bloggers” (no exaggeration on how much I hate that word!) should write their daily effluent: blatant tongue-in-cheek, plenty of guile, buckets of tenacity. Kudos. Keep up the good work. I never tire of your information. Here’s hoping 2007 brings more of the same.

  55. December 29, 2006 by ErikHK

    Sure, JS libraries can be useful, but check out the site http://dojotoolkit.org/ without JS enabled, not very usable..

    1. The hype for JavaScript frameworks/libraries was certainly overdone. The issue I have is the large file size of most JS library files.

    2. Agree (Ajax misuse)

    3. My eyes never hurt from high contrast, light-on-dark designs. Also, this practice is good for those with poor monitors and those with low-vision.

    4. Agree! Headings that aren’t real text are bad for SEO, accessibility, and other reasons stated.

    5. Boo! I believe that with the right budget and know-how, any site can be made accessible. If it ain’t in the budget, then reconsider doing it.

    6. Agree! (over-wide, fixed-width layouts)

    Also, yes, IE7 and Google Ads are great additions suggested in the comments!

  56. Frameworks:

    I used to hate JS and thought it made no sense. 3 books and 6 months later I love it. I have not used a framework yet. (Personally I didn’t like using code I didn’t understand, well because I have to maintain it. Learn from it sure.) Now I have the knowledge of the language where I can troubleshoot problems with the frameworks.( if I really need to use them.. maybe YUI..)

    Example:

    A colleague of mine decided to enjoy scriptaculous for his ajaxy interface events. I ended up having to explain how things worked so that we could debug what was going on. Has he learned alot about js sure.. but his time to market was doubled and his interface didn’t degrade at all. It was js or nothing.

    Now if you know how js works and its purpose. You are a good candidate to make a great user interface that works well for ~everyone. However, most sites that use the frameworks/libraries fail in many ways as far as accessiblity goes.

    My issue is with people that don’t take the time to educate themselves. But hey, I like job security.

  57. January 4, 2007 by Max Bode

    I agree on most of the points… Still the 3rd point is just not true… Anyway I think stubborn clients should be listed as well (every year). Ohh and don’t forget the annoying fly-in ads… they seriously piss me off… As already mentioned spam should be listed as well… that’s about it i guess!

  58. January 7, 2007 by the by

    Six? Just Six? Or was that just some clever 6 4 6 thing. I used to love building web pages and doing things in photoshop. Now, I’d rather drink straight gin, and I hate gin. Everyone thinks they know how to design a web site. Everyone says, ooo, you should do this, or it should have that, or make it with … Ugh, It make me want to vomit. If my boss ever, ever says Web 2.0, I’m going to hand him a html 3.2 book and tell him to “knock yourself out”. People who don’t build web pages think you can crank this crap out while your eating your frickin meatball sub during lunch. They say, “Oh, well, blah blah blah was it on their web site, do the same thing they did, you just copy it.” And, I downloaded IE 7, and guess what, the default home page is broke. SSDD. I just wonder what knid of new crap will be forth coming in 2007 that I’ll hate. I’m sure there will be more than just six items worthy or my distain. Shhtt, I need another drink. Oh, yeah, multi factor authentication. What to you guys get a load of this crap.

  59. I totally agree with point 6. I had sideways scrolling but I believe you forgot one key thing. Not a code thing but it still sux in 2006. IE7!
    After all the hype I don’t see a single improvement over IE6 and in fact have had more problems with IE7 than with the old IE6. Other than that it’s a good list.

  60. I’m very confused about point #6. You seem to be saying that expandable layouts are best, yet your own site is fixed-layout.

    Your exact statement is “Use a fixed width if you don’t know how to make a flexible layout.” Do you not know how to make a flexible layout? ;-P

    Other comments:

    • People saying IE7 “sucks” need to get a life. IE7 is a nice browser, and I prefer it over Firefox.

    • Thank you for the point about light text on dark background (another ironic point, as your own site offers that option). Dark backgrounds are good for looking at graphics. They stink for reading.

    • My #7 would be any type of background music playing on a web page, as well as video ads that autoplay when you open the page. In fact, that would probably shoot to #1 or 2 on my own list.

    Cheers!

  61. January 13, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    You seem to be saying that expandable layouts are best, yet your own site is fixed-layout.

    It is not fixed width, actually. It is “flexible”. I use em-based min- and max-widths to make it adapt to the user’s text size. Try making your browser window narrower and increase/decrease text size to see what I mean.

    People saying IE7 “sucks” need to get a life. IE7 is a nice browser, and I prefer it over Firefox.

    To each his own. IE7 is incredibly far behind the rest when it comes to offering stable support for CSS, so it sucks if you are a Web developer.

  62. Ha. Love the post… Couldn’t add anymore!

    Thanks

    Justin

  63. I like #5 especially. “Design zealots.” I’ve encountered a few, too, though I’m sure not as many as you have. They need to relax. The web won’t fall apart if “——” doesn’t happen on every single web page.

    My personal suggestion: foggy gray text. I think main content gray-on-white text looks classy, but only when there’s enough contrast. Some people go overboard and it’s like reading through vellum. Bleh.

  64. Matt Robin hit the nail on the head… MySpace, along with everything else here, I would completely agree with.

  65. I think number 7 in the list is crying out to be ‘The release of IE7’. OK it was an improvement on it’s predecessor, but it still mostly sucks. Number 8 I think is the overuse of google-Ads…

    Definitely agree with 2,4 and 6.

  66. How about all those annoying “get-rich” or earn money with blogging? This should be fun, the purpose should not only be to earn money and get “rich”.

Comments are disabled for this post (read why), but if you have spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to contact me.