Category Archives: Site design

Overall design (eg structure)

More briefs

“You people should be ashamed of yourself! I did not ask to have 3 pop ups come across my screen when I visit you. I do not visit singles sites, and I don’t want to add 4 inches to my penis. As a matter of fact, I don’t use any of the services that pop up on my screen. I think it is disgusting that you money hungry bastards have infringed on my computer for your own selfish gain. From this moment on, I am boycotting you, and I am advising EVERYONE I know to do the same thing. Down with you and your pop up ads.”User quoted by Jakob Nielsen (who it turns out probably had spyware on his machine. Umm, the user that is, not Jakob.)

This sounds pretty cool: Do you regularly rebuild your PC? This site has a guide to creating the ultimate Windows XP installation disk, with all your favourite applications, patches, settings and hacks built-in. (via David).

I used to wonder why the WinAPI GetTickCount() call always gave back a value that was a multiple of 55ms. Now I know why.

MS hits blogging. The blogosphere hits MS for its limitations. Oh well, that’s classic MSN… they do consumer products, not power tools. The whole censorship thing seems a bit drastic though.

These friendly freebie web hosters (Boss factor: risque, and note the URL) have a page where they expose people who abuse the facilities.

Longer and longer URLs

The Age and SMH have joined in embedding story names in their URLs.

So at The Age before it was — now it’s used to have stuff like — but now it’s

(Note how the slash in the article screws-up the text embedded in the URL.)

It’s probably good for the search engines but it’s hopeless for passing URLs via email, as they now spill out over more than one line.

(If they want to maximise hits, what the Fairfax should prioritise is countering Google News’s opinion of The Age and SMH being subscriber only.)

PS. Thursday 8am. For those of us who want to quote SMH/Age URLs to people, you can still chop out all the embedded text, and replace it with “articles” so the example above becomes:

URL design

It pays to keep your URLs clean. Preferably just directories, no trailing filenames, and certainly no default.aspx type stuff on the end. Why? Because you’re aiming at humans, most of whom can’t remember that kind of stuff, and don’t want to be bothered typing it.

Everything that Jakob Nielsen wrote five years ago still applies. You want URLs that are memorable, easily typable, short enough to send in emails without getting chopped-up, that don’t automatically add weird parameters screwing up bookmarks and browser autocomplete, and can be passed by word of mouth.

Hey Joe, look at this site. www dot geekrant dot org

wins over

Hey Joe, look at this site. h t t p colon slash slash w w w dot geekrant dot org slash index dot php

every time.

This stuff is not hard. For Apache people, .htaccess works wonders. For the IIS crowd, fiddle with the default page settings. There is no excuse for forwarding to Anybody who bookmarks that will be in for a shock the next time they move to a new scripting technology and change their file types.

Hide the default/index.html/asp/aspx/cgi/php/whatever from your users by linking back to your index pages without using the filename… eg root of this directory “./”, parent directory “../” and so on. Also aids in what Nielsen calls “hackable URLs”.

Redesign them by all means, give your 404s options to go to the home page, or search, or a site map. But don’t make your 404s jump to special page, changing the URL. Do you know how irritating it is to get a 404 that’s hidden what you typed, so you don’t know what you got wrong?

Though it’s become kinda fashionable to chop it, I still lean towards including www on the front in URLs, because it means you can put it in written form without the http:// and there’s no doubt what you’re talking about.

PS. Which browser vendor will be the first to hide http:// in the address bar when it’s not needed? Newbies really don’t need to be trying to type that every time, especially as no browser requires it to be entered.

PPS. Yeah I still call them URLs, not URIs. As the W3C says, an http URI is a URL. So there.

Web Pet Hate #3456

This guy advertises his web design wares ending with the claim ”without frustration, without waiting…’.

So why on earth do I have to sit and read your splash screen before getting in to your site?

Sitepoint Anomaly

I’ve been meaning to buy a couple of books from sitepoint for a while now. I’ve borrowed a copy of their HTML Utopia: Designing Without Tables Using CSS, a fantastic guide to CSS and their Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP & MySQL looks great so when they emailed me an offer of 20% off this book I thought why not.

That is until I saw the site. Ifyou spend over USD$70 (effectively two books) you get free postage anywhere in the world. Hmmm. Take the offer and save $7 off one book or reject the offer (which takes me below $70), pay full price and save $15?

Regardless, they’re great books.