Because I forget stuff. Part of

Note: It appears you must have reached this page by a deep level URL. In general this site is currently down and unmaintained. See here

About This Post

Originally posted February 28 2006 at 23:02 (which was Pancake Day) under Web. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled. Last modified: 24 March 2006 at 01:01

Web Usability 101


Ahh the web. Swiftly clicking from one easy source of information to the next. Until your brought grinding to a halt. Now I know this very site probably isn’t the greatest guide to usability but I do my best and I like to believe that I at least give it some thought. Which makes me wonder why others sometimes appear to have left common sense somewhere out of reach.

This post was original inspired by the Baltic Library and Archive (which details the archives of that Baltic Art thingy), which I found the other night. It’s all fine and dandy but note the sentence near the top of the page. NOTE: This is NOT the BALTIC website - use link at the bottom of the page for this. Why the hell write that? Why not, Note, This is not the Baltic website, this is the main baltic website and link at that point. Why bother to write the sentence and then make it such a hassle for users?

That was however completely over shadowed by The Castle Studies Group. At first glance it seems a nicely designed, modern looking site. However, this thing actually did make my jaw drop slightly open when I realised what was going on, and I made little strangled noises. Never mind the fact that the menu items are all images with no alt text, or that the dropdown menus don’t work without javascript (about the one thing this site got right is that the subpages can at least still be reached via the menu items which do work—assuming you have images on of course). Or the fact the thing doesn’t even centre the content without javascript turned on. No these are minor annoyances. The reimplementation of marquee in Java (yes, Java) is just to show off technical ability. No, the real killer is when you look at the main text of that linked page. I say text…

The main text is an image. One without a title, without alt text (well OK, it has an alt attribute, just set to an empty string). But the thing is it took me a couple of moments to get this. I’d tried to resize it and nothing happened. So I tried to select some text and sort of realised its an image (it’s not like that hasn’t been seen before—there are even numerous techniques for “accessible” image replacement to get pretty headings—and we’ve probably all have come across entire text as an image before). What caused brain fuzz and confusion though was the quite clear linked email address sat in the middle of the text though. But it’s an image. And then it hit me. Having produced an image to represent plain text whatever madness was driving this realised it needed a link. At that point though, rather than notice the insane error of its ways, it applied an image map to get the link in place. I really, really am speechless. I can’t decide if this is just hopeless blind craziness or some misguided apparition of wonderful inventiveness. I mean, having reached the seeming impass of needing a link in our imaged text most of us would have given up and resorted to redoing it as a nicely styled paragraph! How many would have thought of reaching for that half forgotten bastard of markup, good old image map! Speechless. It’s not a one off either.

To be fair the pages carry a generator metatag laying the blame at Serif webplus 9. Surely it can’t do this sort of thing by default though?

Disclaimer: I realised part way through writing this that I was uncomfortable with just posting a critique of some random little site such as this one. It seems the sort of site that possible is maintained by one guy who mightn’t have much technical knowledge. So in fairness I delayed posting while I emailed the webmaster. The language used was probably stinging but I hope by the end they understood that I was trying to point out very real problems (I won’t reproduce a private communication here without permission, obviously). This post was written up Friday night and that’s when I pinged the email off. It’s now Tuesday night and no reply, so I’m posting anyway.

Comments (0):

Post a comment

Name and email address are required. Email address is never shown. If you enter a URL your name will be linked to it (this and other links will have the rel attribute set to contain nofollow). Markup allowed: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <em> <strong> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <p> <br />. Anything else is stripped; please be valid. Single linebreaks automatically convert to <br />, double to <p>'s. Additionally anything that looks like a bare URL should get automagically linked. Many acronyms and abbreviations are also automagically handled.

Please note this blog's comment policy

Trackbacks (0):

Trackback URL:


This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

More about me [Disclaimer]

You may subscribe to IMS_Blog using the RSS Feed, the Atom Feed or by email.

Creative Commons License

From February 28 Other Years

© Ian Scott. Powered by Movable Type 3.2. This blog uses valid XHTML 1.0 Strict and valid CSS. All times are local UK time. For further details see the IMS_Blog about page.. All my feeds in one.