23 Sep 2008
Bad Ideas That Refuse To Die
Over the years I’ve encountered some stubbornly persistent web site myths/mistakes. At the risk of offending past/present/future clients, here are the ones I get asked to implement most often:
- Launching external links in new windows
- There’s still a surprisingly widespread perception that new windows mean you can keep visitors on your site and therefore improve its performance.
- Inappropriate use of dropdown menus
- Fancy navigation that immediately exposes the site’s structure can be great for knowledgeable users who know what they want; it’s often a poor choice for introducing products/services, where you need to lead users through a process of gradual discovery and interaction.
- All-Flash sites
- Hybrid HTML/Flash sites are usually a superior option in the long run, but design-led businesses find it hard to let go of full control of text rendering, transitions, etc.
- Important information in PDFs
- “We’ll just stick all that into a PDF.” PDFs are great for printing and packaging up a large amount of content into a single file, but using them for core content is a mistake.
- Splash screens
- This one can be tough to deal with, but I try to find ways to combine the purpose of the splash screen (visual impact, setting the tone) with that of the home page (offering introductory content and navigation options).
A decent developer knows when they’re being asked to do something that might be a bad idea. A good developer can understand the reasoning behind the request, even if they disagree with it. A first-rate developer knows how, and when, to use that understanding to steer towards sensible solutions.
I don’t think any of us ever feel we’ve truly mastered that last bit.