I mentioned back in the intro being interested in web usability. Today, for all you religious people, my gift is a web page that sucks.
That phrase comes from usability guru Vincent Flanders' book, Web Pages That Suck.
Web Pages That Suck: Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design
In particular, this page embodies three great sins of commercial web page design.
- It has a splash page. Content-free splash pages have only two effects on users: they annoy us, and they waste our time.
- It requires Macromedia Flash to function. I spent two years as a Flash developer, and it's a cool technology, but making Flash compulsory for users of your page is a way to drive users away and make the site harder to use.
- It uses what Flanders so memorably named mystery meat navigation. I'll illustrate.
What do you see at Cadapult's main page? Well, it's a mystery. Here's how you navigate it: you float your mouse pointer over the little graphics ringing the screen, and that changes the content in the middle of the oval. Then you have to move your pointer to another place, within the oval, to click on actual links.
Isn't that cool?
No. It's stupid and irritating. Flanders calls it "mystery meat navigation" because there's no good way to know how to get anywhere: it's a mystery. You have to fiddle around at semi-random to find what you're looking for.
Other criticisms of this page: the stupid link-revealing graphics are mostly broken. Now it's a real mystery how to get anywhere.
The links are graphics without alt text. What that means is that:
- It's impossible for search engines to properly index this page.
- People using screen readers or text-only browsers can't use this page, and no alternative is provided. Why lock out the blind, and those of us techies who still use Lynx or elinks from our Unix shells?
I am in fact a potential customer of Cadapult, but this doesn't incline me to purchase from them.
Vincent Flanders' writing style sometimes grates on me, but there's good stuff in both his web design books. I linked to the first above. The other is Son of Web Pages That Suck.
Son of Web Pages That Suck: Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design
I'd love to read your comments. See you soon. I hope you enjoyed your solstice holiday.