diary of a mad
househusband

25 march 2000

 

 lament of a web site perpetrator

At Wired News the other day I see there's a contest to design the best Web page under 5kb and my heart leaps in my chest. Perpetrating fast-loading Web sites like this one and this other one and this one you are reading is something I really enjoy doing. So I head on over to the 5K contest site and read the rules. My nostrils flare. I can do this thing.

Then I check out the judges and look at some of their pages. My nostrils close down to their regular size or maybe a little smaller. I discover when I accidentally kick it that my heart has fallen to the floor. These things happen because I see that the judges are highly paid professional Web site designers, and an unemployed househusband like myself has no chance in the contest.

I can tell they are designers because they can do things that humble Web site perpetrators like me are not allowed to do.

They can take away the font faces and sizes I am painstakingly setting in all my browsers, and change them to something like this for the main text of their pages, which maybe looks fine in your browser, but for me means I have to lean forward and tilt my head back to read through the bottom part of my trifocals, instead of leaning comfortably against the chair back and looking through the middle part of my glasses. This makes the page interactive.

They can ignore Fitts's law. Instead of putting a few nice big site navigation links on the right side of the screen next to the scroll bar, they can put lotsa itty bitty links on the left side, inviting you to leave the page before you see what you are coming there to see. Then they can skip putting those links at the bottom right of the page where you could use them after you are finished with the page. They can do these things because Jakob Nielsen says so.

So I am stuffing my heart back in my chest and forgetting about designing a page for the contest. But I think that maybe I am sending them a copy of this page to show the judges that some of us perpetrate fast loading pages that work as a matter of conviction instead of just for contests. Also I want them to know that I think their hearts are in the right place even if their fonts are too small.

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