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So what is "so '90s" in Web design?

What are you tired of seeing?



9:32 pm on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've read threads on this site where people have said that's "so '90s" such as using drop-down menus ([webmasterworld.com ].

So what do people consider yesterday's news when it comes to general site design/look? Are you tired of seeing fish-eye pictures of people from above? If so, what else?


2:17 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

So what is "so '90s" in Web design?
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3:56 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Did anyone mention JavaScript "marching text" trick, in the location bar at the bottom?

That, and a column of dark (but saturated) color on the left, with reversed-out text.


4:19 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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- Inverted-L shaped frames

I am a little sad to see them go. They do make sense design and bandwidth wise. Why blog my pipe with 'includes' if I can have it local once and for all?!

BUT not so for SEO. I think that was the main reason they disappeared. Robots didn't understand them. And we started to use tables (arghh) instead.

I think css might be next. 'That was soo turn of the century' :)


5:30 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

How about those JavaScript Cursor following effects?

You know, the little graphics (bubbles, cats, etc) that would follow your cursor around on the page. Interesting for the first 3 seconds. Annoying as hell after that!


troels nybo nielsen

5:39 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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A 100k+ academic paper with virtually no mark-up, just text.

First screen is a title and those other informations that you usually find on the title page in a book, including time of publication (1996ish, no updates). No navigation.

You scroll down and find a foreword. Still no navigation.

You scroll down once more and find the beginning of a loooong table of contents, many screens deep. And this table of contents is the navigation.

You click on a link and are sent waaay down the page. No navigation. You either have to scroll or hit the back button.


8:38 pm on Mar 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Having a complete seo'd website (so it always makes the top spot) of items for sale with many huge pictures and after all has loaded having sold signs on each of 300 pages to show off how adept you are for selling everything. And the bonus is that your no longer selling anything and now you do dog paintings for donations. grumble...


6:47 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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This may be a stupid question but...

What's so bad about horizontal rules (<hr>) in and of themselves? I can see avoiding 20 pages of them but otherwise, what's the beef?

I've seen something like the equivalent used in documentation circles. Generally speaking, a horizontal line breaks up a paragraph fairly well, which makes scanning content a little easier especially with bold labels along a left-side column. Is it that some '90s tools can still be used to good effect (like tables, Flash, etc.)?

Also, I'm no expert here but what's the beef against client-side shopping carts ala Actinic etc.? I've never used it before so please enlighten me.


10:51 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Agree on most things. Doubly agree on Flash/Splash pages, and pop-ups in particular.

Problem: Selling a design to a mid-small company or individual. Good design goes out the window after the first draft, and you end up posting some piece of schlock because that's what the "shoulda been a used car salesman but became a realtor instead" client wants.

I can think of one person in particular, who makes 7 figures in commission per year selling acreages, who I like to refer to as "Boss Hog" because he's a short, portly, arrogant twerp in a ten gallon hat who's decided he needed "One of them web page thangs."

I designed a beautiful, clean, professional site for him, that he hated. In the end, I coded up a page that contained virtually every "don't" listed here, charged him a couple sets of arms and legs for it, and left him smiling. (Then changed my e-mail addy and got call display so I'd never have to hear from him again).

Good web design = having no opinion, just the ability to do whatever stupid/smart thing your client wants.


12:24 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Non-requested background sound.

Usually with the volume set twice as loud relative to the internet radio I'm listening to. Nothing makes me hit alt-F4 faster.

Note on Tables: Useful when you wish to display a table of information. Properly used they are fine. The multiple nested tables used to control layout where one would have done are the problem.


1:25 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Properly used they are fine

Glad to find someone who agrees with me on this! For laying out tabular information they are still an option to cosider. But of course if used badly can result in code bloat, etc., and divs are preferable for most layouts.

I find that many people, especially those new to CSS, consider them as old-fashioned and automatically jettison them in favour of divs no matter what is the best solution or the amount of work involved. The result is a lot of posts in the CSS forum asking why the poster's design doesn't work in all browsers, and what hack can get around it.

Just my 2c's worth, which I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with. :)


1:38 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Properly used they are fine

Glad to find someone who agrees with me on this!

Count me in as a supporter. I love tables, I love nested tables, and properly used they can be great. I prefer working with tables and I prefer how they look. And who's worried about 0.22 K of extra code now? It's 2004 for crying out loud.

What I am tired of seeing are CSS sites. No, really. And I don't like working with CSS. OK, this is not a debate about CSS vs tables but since everyone is listing their pet hate, mine is CSS.

</rant over>
<no flames please :-)>


2:02 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My two cents worth on tables vs css:

Mostly I absolutely love css.

Positional css caused horrible carnage when I used it.

Now back to using tables.


2:02 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Forms that you download as a Word 6 document and then fax.

Anything in Microsoft Office formats that could far more easily be offered in an open format like HTML or PDF...


2:06 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Disabled right mouse button garbage is easy to get past.

Just press 'ESC' at the same time you right click and 'presto!' the context menu appears.

"Save Picture as..." here I come.

Even better: just turn off Javascript... most of the sites using such tactics don't require Javascript for anything besides disabling right-click, I've noticed.

Also, far too many of the right mouse button-disabling scripts don't quite work right in Mozilla, I've noticed. They let the context menu display, and THEN pop up a dialogue box with the menu still usable. Oops.


2:08 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One of my personal pet peeves: those stupid Java applets used for navigation rollovers. They're especially common among FrontPage sites designed by the clueless; FrontPage's default way of creating a 'hover button', as they call it, involves a Java applet. Blech.


2:17 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

entire pages that have been made in photoshop, sliced in image ready (or FW) and exported with messy tables, the one central image has been deleted and 10px fixed text pasted in instead. all the other images have been left in place instead of being sliced or marked up properly.

AACCKK! I've seen a few of these things... which immediately caused me to exclaim, "what were they thinking?".

Aside from the difficulty of maintaining such sites, designs like that are horrible resource hogs (how many HTTP requests for all those images?), not to mention horribly inaccessible (alt tags? what alt tags?).


2:21 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Actually, my biggest pet peeve, and I'm pretty sure no one has mentioned this, is mystery navigation... where you have to roll the mouse over some graphical blob or gob to find out what the heck it does. Half the time, its not even obvious that its a button until you roll over it.

Whattsisname, Flanders, from pages that suck, calls it "mystery meat navigation"

Philip Hastings

3:23 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is a great list, however, something was bothering me about some of the things that popped up here. The "swap images" and "water effect" are two things I am guilty of using, but the important thing to remember is that each can be used if the effect is appropriate for what you're trying to sell. For instance, I used the swap images trick on a website for a photographer in an effort to show as much of the photographers work as possible. They loved it. I also used the water effect on a website for a company that positioned themselves as a "liquid marketing" agency - with the ability to morph and adapt to its environment. Sounds a little hokey, but it worked with great results! My point is - if its' appropriate for your audience then, it shouldn't be overlooked or discounted.


4:14 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Almost forgot...

- Posting anything in PDF that could just as easily have been posted in HTML


7:21 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Don't forget the one picture of the skull smoking a cigar (and all animated GIF's, for that matter).


7:35 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member mivox is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The skull smoking a cigar is not as bad as those gawdawful flickering gothic wall-sconce torches. ;)

As far as what I REALLY hate though... As soon as I see a java 'applet loading' message at the bottom of my screen, I leave. I don't even wait around to see what the java actually *does*.


8:17 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Sorry i don't know what nested tables are?


9:07 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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expanding on that nested tables question, is the aversion to tables because of visible table boundaries (frame, rule, border), or using them as structural elements in web pages at all? ('cause I don't know how else to do it!)

Also, I'll add "web sites in front of me that don't use their turn signals"...oh...I'm mixing my pet peeves again...

troels nybo nielsen

9:11 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld, santiban.

A nested table is a table inside another table.


10:41 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Underlined copy that is not a hyperlink because it's just copied straight from an offline source.


11:02 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

guilty of nasty nested tables, but I know what the prob with them is.

A) they create a lot of bloated code, your pages end up heavier than they need to be.

B) They become complicated and difficult for a later developper to work on.

C) Unless you're really careful, they can produce stunningly different results on different browsers.

Having said that, I use them all the time because I'm too damn lazy to learn CSS. Also, it creates a page that just baffles code stealers who view source.

Rambo Tribble

4:18 am on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One word: Polls


8:03 am on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Now that I've read all 8 pages I can finally relate my own little antidote. I'm not a web designer though I could play one on TV. At my old job I made a lot of templates to show what could be done with a peice of software I was working on.

I looked at other sites and implemented several of the ideas and tricks in say "Eric Meyer on CSS" to demonstrate that they would work with the web publishing system. Eventually I started taking calls for suggestions on what to do, such as colors, or websites people liked. I even implemented our website inside our webpublishing system updating the designe done by the previous web guy so it validated, at least before I put in all the WebObjects stuff...

One thing that I did was make some gradients in Macromedia's graphic program, Fireworks. I also made a metallic looking site. Almost all of them would be inverted L designs though none used frames.

Eventually we had to design a site to market the web publishing system. It was a major design by committee, I just did the typing. It ended up being blue with several gradiants. Basically it has gradiants everywhere. It does download really fast cause all those images are really small but I immediately thought of this site when reading this thread.

Now-a-days I ownly have my own little hobby site, which you'll be happy to know doesn't seem to have many of these complaints. It does have a dark background, but you can swap it to a light background using a style sheet switcher. ;-)

I still remember the marketing guy and my boss argueing over using red on the current section color in the menu. I suggested orange and that was probably one of my only suggestions in the site. Orange is a new trendy color in web design. I blame Zeldman, Arstechnica also has a lot of orange. Blues and greys are of course popular, but lately I see a lot of orange on the web. I even use it myself. ;-P

Cheers from Japan.



11:56 am on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The use of form submission buttons in place of text links, just because they look somehow more sophisticated. Lots of bold and italics, and bold italics. Multi-colored text and tables. [wsabstract.com...]


5:11 am on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

yeah I agree with the custom form buttons, waste of development time and people have a hard time finding some of the too smooth custom ones. :-)
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