Enough of your fancy websites

The way websites are designed these days irritates me more and more. Typically:

  • the amount of text on an page is minute.
  • too much of the screenspace is wasted with blank space and meaningless pictures and graphics.
  • almost no piece of text can be read on a single page. There’s just a teaser introduction and you have to click through to the rest.
  • menus of links have obscure top level categories and are difficult to navigate.
  • there are too many gimmicky animations and videos.

The best website I have ever used was built by my former colleague Paul Pacter for the International Accounting Standards Committee in the late 90s. People told him it broke every principle of good website design. They said the pages were too full of text, with not enough space and too few graphics, and there were too many items on the main menu.

But it was easy to find things on the site and it was quick to use. It was miles better than most websites used today. It’s time to reverse most of the subsequent ‘progress’ in website design.

I found an archive copy on the Way Back Machine / Internet Archive. There is a screenshot below. The full front page is at https://web.archive.org/web/20000510145843/http://www.iasc.org.uk/  

One comment

  1. First, of course, thank you for the nice words about the original IASC website, that I cobbled together starting in 1997 with very basic self-taught HTML. I’ve still got the entire website (all 1,014 HTML, GIF, and PDF files) as of 31 December 2000. It didn’t win any beauty contests, for sure. But the goal was user-friendly access to content.

    Second, I agree with your comments on so many of today’s “elegant” websites that are so frustratingly hard to actually use (minimal substantive text, wasted space, massive pictures, things that appear and then disappear for no good reason, etc.).

    A case in point: A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to check out a compact digital camera that someone had recommended to me. I knew it was made by Canon, but I didn’t remember the model name and number. Admittedly I could have framed my Internet search more explicitly, but I just entered Canon. It brought me to http://www.canon.com, which in a couple of seconds automatically redirected to https://global.canon/en/ That site is a good poster child for all of the problems Peter cited.

    Take a look at that page https://global.canon/en/. Move your mouse around. Unhelpful pictures pop up and change. Lines are moving for no apparent reason. Use your mouse to scroll down the page. Things pop up with lots of blank space but only a few actual words of text or links. The links disappear if you move your mouse a tad. Searching is next to impossible. Try to find any information about Canon cameras.

    I abandoned Canon’s main site and, by better framed searches, eventually found the camera whose name I could not remember – a Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III. In fact, I ended up buying the camera and, after a week of testing, I really like it. I wish I could say the same thing for Canon’s website.


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