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DESIGN USABILITY

More Website Knick Knack


In our second article about useless clutter on websites, Chris Heilmann focuses on websites that try to reinvent the wheel, features that offer a quick "wow" and little else, and more. Are you guilty of inflicting website knick knack on your visitors? Take a look at the included check list and find out.

Author Info:
By: Chris Heilmann
Rating: 2 stars2 stars2 stars2 stars2 stars / 77
December 13, 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · More Website Knick Knack
  2. · Why to stick to the tried-and-true
  3. · The site in the site
  4. · The Russian doll symptom
  5. · Changing the cursor
  6. · Baring it all
  7. · Forewarned is forearmed

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More Website Knick Knack - Baring it all
(Page 6 of 7 )

One knick knack you see on a lot of personal homepages is too much personal information. Why would a visitor want to have a Java applet showing the current temperature and wind conditions in our hometown? Why do some people feel the need to publish their winamp playlists on the Web (and thus make Web searches for certain music a real nightmare)?

In a time of identity theft, credit card fraud, and email and contact data harvesting for spamming reasons, it is better to keep a low profile on the site. If you want to give more information, do so once you have been contacted.

One typical example would be people publishing their family tree on the website. If you have done that, take into consideration that most banks will ask you your mother’s maiden name as a security question. Someone who got your credit card data wouldn’t even need any computer skills to cause havoc – a telephone, some conversational skills and a gullible call center assistant is all it takes.

Scripting Obfuscation

One seemingly cool feature that emerged only in recent times (about a year ago) is using Javascript to make sure that evil email harvesting bots of spammers cannot follow email links on the site. These scripts come in several flavors. One might be:

<script type=”text/javascript”>
me=’coolwebmaster’+’@’+’mysite.com’
document.write(‘<a href=”’+me+’”> ’+me+’</a>’);
</script>

Others might write a me[at]foo.com and turn that into a mailto link via scripting. Apart from not being safe, these scripting solutions dwell in the same category as right-click protections. The normal visitor gets hurt more than the evil spammer. Visitors without Javascript might not even be able to contact you, no matter how much you explain to them how they need to copy and paste obfuscated emails. The spam war is lost – as soon as your email is readable online, you will end up with spam. Let your email server or ISP deal with the problem; don’t make it a problem for your visitors.


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