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top ten web design mistakes of 2002

a decent article I found helpful

     
4:02 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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here's a thoughtful design flaw summary
(and the clever cartoons drive the points home)

[useit.com...]

summary:

1. No Prices
2. Inflexible Search Engines
3. Horizontal Scrolling
4. Fixed Font Size
5. Blocks of Text
6. JavaScript in Links
7. Infrequently Asked Questions in FAQ
8. Collecting Email Addresses Without a Privacy Policy
9. URLs greater than 75 Characters
10. Mailto Links in Unexpected Locations
(and a good observance about
The Growing Importance of Email Integration)

-aV-

[edited by: amznVibe at 4:16 am (utc) on Dec. 29, 2002]

4:10 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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excellent article, especially about email.

in the past 30minutes I have clicked 2 links labelled "Catalogue" and "Request a Catalogue" hoping to find information to do with catalogues, both times Outlook Express opens up. NOT what I wanted.

As for pricing, the reason most B2b sites do NOT give you a price :) > = > They like to know who/what they are quoting to:

A 1 man company will be quoted a LOT less, than IBM or Amazon would (thats the whole point of Enterprise solutions, make them PAY)

Shak

4:11 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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a really nice simple summary. and great cartoons!
4:14 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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A related problem is when search engines prioritize results purely on the basis of how many query terms they contain, rather than on each documentís importance. Much better if your search engine calls out "best bets" at the top of the list -- especially for important queries, such as the names of your products.
============================================================

actually, NO.

they tend to be doing it on the Highest Bid Price (match d#@xx=).

Shak

4:16 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Yes shak! good point on those "best bets"

Lets not forget that Jakob has a close relationship with a well known popular search engine too.

5:03 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>Fixed Font Size

I'm sure an older thread nudged my in the direction of px usage from now on. hmmmmm. Unless i don't fall in the "tiny font" category however small that is

Best read up on this stuff :)

>Overly literal search engines
Ah, so which search engine does he work for then ;)

I think if literal search engines were ever a problem its more the fact that 2 or 3 SE's are used over 1000's of sites. (I think FDSE et al)

6:00 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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> I think if literal search engines were ever a problem its
> more the fact that 2 or 3 SE's are used over 1000's of sites. (I think FDSE et al)

That's an interesting point (if I understand what you are saying correctly)

I would never use a a regular search engine (like Google) for internal searching of my sites. I'd like to have more control, formatting, suggestions, etc. through a CGI. Is that your meaning? I guess it becomes a problem if your site is over a couple hundred pages? I need that problem to learn from :-)

-aV -

6:02 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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10. Mailto Links in Unexpected Locations
(and a good observance about
The Growing Importance of Email Integration) in the past 30minutes I have clicked 2 links labelled "Catalogue" and "Request a Catalogue" hoping to find information to do with catalogues, both times Outlook Express opens up. NOT what I wanted.

I think this point could easily be expanded to include any link which points to anything other than a web page or section thereof, without making it explicitly clear that you'll be getting something else.

I cannot stand it when I click on a link and without warning find either my download manager or my acrobat reader launching.

When users click a link, they expect to be taken to a web page, or perhaps an anchor on the same page. If you are going to deliver anything else via a hot link... make it clear to the user.

[edited by: NFFC at 6:04 am (utc) on Dec. 29, 2002]
[edit reason] fixed code error [/edit]

6:05 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I agree also about the importance of clear mailto: links. My practice has always been: if a link spawns a mail window the link text itself should be an email address. This seems simple to me - click on a name and get a page, click on an email address and get a mail window.
6:12 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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amznVibe,

I was meaning free search engine scripts are commonly used and maybe lack depth for a more "comprehensive search solution". The article quotes search engines as being too "literal", i.e. not taking off the page factors into account or weighting the different uses of the keyword on the page.

Most free scripts are fairly basic (in all due respect!), and don't take into account fancy things like PR and anchor text of inbound links.

Since these free SE scripts are pretty widespread, if they are "lacking" in any way, then 1000's of sites lack alongside.

Search engines are not exactly a 10 min job if you want a good one for your site. They need to be tailor made. Look at WW, there are tens of thousands of threads to be found, most of which can only be found through the site search.

Brett runs the board, not a search engine :)

I guess the crunch is if you have a search for your site, make it good. It probably will have to be tweaked or paid for.

6:16 am on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>I cannot stand it when I click on a link and without warning find... acrobat reader launching.

One of my major annoyances!

9:28 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I always look at the text in the lower Status Bar when I mouse over a link. I look to see where it leads.

Alternatively, I right click the link and copy the link location out and then paste it into a new browser tab (or new window), or else I right-click it and open in new tab (or window) to preserve the original window.

10:24 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Leading me to think of another sin: keep yer filthy, stinkin' paws off my statusbar!
10:53 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I don't really see the problem with having your font as a fixed size... it helps you make layouts that will look the same and work efficently with everyone. As long as you make the font greater than or equal to 12px then there shouldn't be a problem with visitors being unable to read the font.
11:20 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Leading me to think of another sin: keep yer filthy, stinkin' paws off my statusbar!

..and my address bar, and my buttons bar, and my favorites bar, and my...

No kidding.

If I wanted my browser window customized, I'd do it myself thankyouverymuch. :)

12:18 am on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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3. Horizontal Scrolling

Agree - however I have seen some very effective uses of horizontal scrolling (e.g. "maps" and "cartography" related information).

4. Fixed Font Size

Disagree - common sense obviously plays a part here (e.g. I would never use 6pt font (or less), but 10 and 12 are very effective. Obviously if your target audience is older than 40 it may be wise to go larger.

A little like site design to accommodate monochrome monitors (still used at NASA) -- but likely not your target, nor ever will be.

7. Infrequently Asked Questions in FAQ

Actually I started adapting to full narrative here, SWA, Flash and shockwave assisted, if desired.

9. URLs greater than 75 Characters

Rubbish! ;) At least for the reasoning used. Obviously some common sense applies but if there is a URL that has email and viral marketability of any type, an "email a friend" selection reduces this to almost 0% negative effect.

Adding... the attached caption seem to reflect "free web site hosting" (noting ~ Tilde) which would be the #1 mistake of this list. If you need "free" hosting you're not serious about web visitors.

IMHO anyway! ;)

12:41 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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#9 is highly important to me. I rarely visit a site if I have to cut and paste a link. Test it Fathom. A url over 75 (72 actually) will have 15-20% reduced click through rate.
1:13 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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#11 - Design your site in a boring manner, use no graphics or distinctive fonts to guide your visitors' attention, and claim it is highly "usable". ;)

Seriously, he makes some good points. I dislike non-obvious mailto links as well. One key issue designers often overlook are multi-user computers - opening the default mail program may not be a good solution. I always try to install a contact page with a web form in addition to an e-mail link - this makes it easy for visitors to contact you whether or not they happen to be the primary user of the computer they are using at the moment.

1:20 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Test it Fathom. A url over 75 (72 actually) will have 15-20% reduced click through rate.

Although I see the argument and point - in the context of viral marketing there are many ways to avoid this.

Click-Through Test (although I can't take credit for the chosen URL's) I have been relucant to fool with success.

157 characters - average daily click-throughs 900; maximum recorded daily - 2307

unrequested backlinks - 203 (although I only see a backlink if clickthrough occurs is many cases. Deeplinked PR6

*ttp://www.*************.***/interactive/earthquakes_seismic_waves_activity_earthquake_epicenter/earthquakes_seismic_waves_activity_earthquake_epicenter.html

115 characters - average daily click-throughs 1400; maximum recorded daily - 3773

unrequested backlinks - 243 Deeplinked PR6

*ttp://www.*************.***/interactive/weight_mass_volume_density_gravity/weight_mass_volume_density_gravity.html

Another example is amazon's outrageous URL's -- their visitation & sales are not hurting either.

Is it possible that some or a vast number of URL viewers look elsewhere for content because of the URL length... possible?

People though look for content, information, product/services, etc., I assume for the most part that URL length is not generally part of their "content check-list".

Would I ever recommend doing this: not a change! - just an illustration that what designers/marketers view as a "mistake" may not really apply to the target market. They don't have the same thought process.

[edited by: fathom at 1:25 pm (utc) on Dec. 30, 2002]

1:22 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Speaking of horizontal scrolling, fathom... :)
1:26 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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rogerd - point taken LOL ;)
1:27 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Regarding font size:

1) It seems to me a good balance is struck when keeping
the framework of the site <fixed> meaning the Header, Nav
System, Footer and sometimes a few other structures.

2) Then allow for user defined size in the main content areas.

3) I would also use a "liquid" model so that as much
information is displayed on screen as possible at all
times for any monitor resolution.

(and a "liquid" page usually eliminates horz scrolling)

[edited by: Jon_King at 1:33 pm (utc) on Dec. 30, 2002]

1:30 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>>keep yer filthy, stinkin' paws off my statusbar!
>>If I wanted my browser window customized, I'd do it myself thankyouverymuch.

Not really "design flaws" but more like intentional attacks. I pretty much view them as intentional attacks or vandalism.

1:41 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Would you consider changing a scroll bar color to match a site color scheme too intrusive?
3:14 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The site is yours.
The browser is mine.

Don't redecorate my stuff without my explicit permission.

3:17 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Personally I hate scroll bar changes but I think that's a judgement call... Some may find it intrusive, others may like it..

Nick

3:18 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I see your point. However isn't css as a whole taking control of your browser as well?
3:21 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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No, taking control of the page possibly, but a browser users stylesheet overrides the page's sheet so the user remains in control.

er... what I meant to say was NO ;)

CSS is a way of suggesting to the browser a way of displaying the page, not controlling it...

Nick

3:28 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I think you guys are right on this one. The page is separate from the browser. Leave the browser alone.
3:30 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Indeed. As far as what I'm willing to have you do, I see no difference between

<body bgcolor="#ff0000" color="#00ff00">

and

body {
background-color: #f00;
color: #0f0;
}

extend the example as you wish. Basically, since your CSS selectors can't affect anything that isn't part of your page, you can do anything you want with them and I might think you're being stupid, but I won't think you're meddling where you don't belong.

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