|Home Page Commentary 17 January 2000 (Mergers/HTML)|
This is a fairly short commentary today; I spent the first week of the new year recovering from the flu and the second week teaching a five-day class. (I contract to Keypoint Software, which is a training partner of Selectica. I've been teaching the introductory course.)
The big buzz this week was the impending buyout of Time-Warner by America OnLine (AOL). Frankly, I'm not overjoyed at the prospect.
I think this merger is in for some deservedly rough sledding. Even though I'm sure there's money to be made in this (no matter which way the buyout goes), I'm not going to buy any AOL or Time-Warner stock, either in hopes of a profit or to sell short.
The following are some pet peeves I've noticed while browsing over the past few weeks. So, all you web authors heed this advice:
Keep your eye on the browser's title bar as you surf the web the next few days. See how many windows have no title or the word Untitled in them. When you look at the list of pages you've been to recently, it sure makes it difficult to tell which page is which, doesn't it? Moral of the story: Please remember to put meaningful <title> tags in your HTML documents. I know this problem is hard to stamp out; your eye rarely heads up to the title bar, and the <title> tag tends to be overlooked when you copy-and-paste to create new files. Note: your <title> tag is also used when users bookmark a page.
I connect to the internet via a 28.8K modem when I'm at home. If your page has an excessive amount of graphics on the first page, I'm not likely to wait for it to load. (I've seen some pages with only seven or eight pictures, but they total to over 700K bytes of data. At 28.8K, that takes a little over three minutes to load.) Remember that graphics should emphasize your message, not overwhelm it.
Make sure photos are saved in JPG format rather than GIF format, and don't take a huge picture and scale it down by putting a width= and height= in your <img> tag. See my image tutorial for further information.
If you're a business-to-business website, your clients all have a fast internet connection. People like me who use slow modems aren't your target audience, so this doesn't apply to you.
Maroon text on a black background is virtually unreadable. Lime green on black hurts people's eyes. Virtually anything on black is less-than-optimal. People are used to reading things written in black ink on white paper. In general, dark text on light backgrounds is always easier to read than light text on dark backgrounds.
A corollary: don't change link colors unless your choice of background color compels you to. People are used to blue underlined text to mean unvisited link and purple underlining to mean visited link..
If you're in need of design guidance and advice, I strongly encourage you to look at these sites:
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