[LINK] Killing the Web?
Fri, 06 Oct 2000 12:42:54 +1100
This article paints a depressing and probably realistic picture of
under-developed, complex, overly divergent (for commercial reasons)
standards. "Standardsitis" - a condition well known to the IT industry
and people beavering away on ambitious standards committees.
But people can already make a horrible mess with HTML! They can design
impossible-to-read pages with plain HTML - just by making the tables too
wide, the text the wrong colour or the font too small. They can add
so Netscape fails to display the page, fonts which don't exist on the
browser, frames, frames and more frames . . . Then they can have
nothing but puffery to say, or gross graphic design skills. Some CSS
(Cascading Style Sheet) pages display in weird ways or don't print well
on current browsers. Many HTML pages are practically unprintable, so a
separate printable pages may be provided. Some pages appear in windows
which have no controls for printing, bookmarking etc. - and cannot even
be resized. Windows pop up when you don't want them - and may open
other windows for other sites when you close them. HTML email is often
a horror and is very rarely used in a communicative way.
Give the options, which most complex technologies do try to give, many
people will make a mess of it through incompetence, lack of care or
trying to be **different**.
The thought of some WYSIWYG program allowing clueless users to generate
and Plugin encrusted web pages . . . . . it is depressing!
In electronics, things get better rapidly. Components become more
capable, more compact, more reliable and cheaper. If they were
inelegant or unreliable, they wouldn't last long. The customers are
engineers - and they have strong economic and personal reasons for
making systems which have minimal componentry whilst maximising
performance and reliability. Electronic hardware are seriously into
In IT, things often do get better rapidly - but sometimes things are
done in a buggy or inelegant way. With user bandwidth, CPU time and
frustration not costing the web-designer anything directly, there is
nothing to stop inelegant websites proliferating.
In web-page design, people can put all sorts of crap on a web-site and
users are drawn to it and have to try to cope with it. A new trend is
to make websites with huge files which might be OK on a cable modem -
but are very slow on a normal modem.
With large organisations, management is easily impressed by puffery and
never tries to actually use the site via a modem or 9.6 kbps GSM data
link - so the worst things are foisted on millions of users with little
chance that feedback to the site will cause any improvement. The same
thing can happen with small commercial sites where the customer has
little or no experience of the Web, or at least little or no
understanding of the value of a website which respects navigational
conventions, loads quickly and is communicative.