Monday, October 01, 2012

Some Pointers On Site Design

So I've been trying to access this site on other machines lately and I noticed something - it looks like crap in some browsers for some reason. The text looks like it was taken from a children's book, even though the original intent was for it to somehow evoke the feel of being hand-written (as is mostly the case).

I reckon that it has something to do with screen resolution, as I work on either 1366x768 or 1280x720 at home (and on dual monitors elsewhere). Unfortunately, I don't have the resources (or an audience, really) to design my own CMS so I'd have to work with the limitations that Blogger has - like the lack of scalable text, for instance. I still try to follow some quick pointers from a couple of places.

As Sam Hughes said, it's easy to alienate potential readers when there's too much media on a site, especially when they need plugins to run. While a lot of us enjoy a relatively fast connection (and quite frankly, mine sucks), there are plenty of folks who still have to work with dial-up speeds. Unless your site is media-oriented, content that has to load separately from the page, such as Flash and Java, are probably unnecessary.

Speaking of which, I think it's also worth mentioning that people should avoid bitmaps (and for everyone's sake, do not use TIFs) when embedding images. Stick to more compact formats such as JPEGs and PNGs.

Another thing that annoys me is when people disable right-clicks, presumably to prevent others from stealing photos and whatnot. Never disable any browser functionality - no exceptions. Watermarks exist for a purpose, and I think that's a more elegant solution. Besides, if someone really wanted to grab photos, there are ways to get around a few lines of code that are already embedded in non-IE browsers. And there's always printscreen, for the noobs.

I also agree that it's best practice to avoid having a layout that has horizontal scrolling. It's such a chore to read text that hasn't been wrapped properly, and readers shouldn't be forced to switch to RSS readers.

Lastly, background images are cool and all but they look horrible when tiled. That, along with sparkly pointer icons, are generally frowned upon.

I myself probably break these pointers from time to time, but I guess everyone has to start somewhere in order to improve.

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