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DESIGN USABILITY

Website Knick Knack


We've all visited websites that made us wince. You know what I mean: full of distracting animation, flashing text, and enough other clutter that it reminds you of a Victorian home filled to bursting with knick knacks. Are you guilty of filling your website with useless junk? Christian Heilmann takes you down his checklist of website clutter. You just might find yourself considering a redesign.

Author Info:
By: Christian Heilmann
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 10
November 24, 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Website Knick Knack
  2. · Bookmark us
  3. · I liked the menu, but the food wasn't enough
  4. · Look, I'm animated!

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Website Knick Knack - I liked the menu, but the food wasn't enough
(Page 3 of 4 )

There is nothing more important to a website than good navigation. It takes the visitor by the hand, shows him how to find all the goodies in the site and indicates where in the whole big structure he is at the moment. It's all the more annoying if the menu fails to do so, or is only available in a certain environment. One of the most frequent mistakes newbie Web designers do is design the menu as a visual element rather than a representation of the site’s information architecture. What good is multi level dropdown navigation that requires neurosurgical mouse skills and fades in and out smoothly when there is one paragraph on each of the pages? The type and logic of your menu is defined by the content of the site; if there is not enough content, or if it is badly categorized, visitors are not likely to come back, no matter how flashy the navigation was.

Navigation that is dependent on scripting or plug-ins without a fallback option should be completely avoided. Not only do those violate the accessibility guidelines, they can be a very frustrating experience for users who really want to see certain parts of your site but just cannot reach them. Search engine robots also show them the cold shoulder, and we don’t want to block those out, do we?

Beware of the right-click

Copyright-paranoid Web developers found a seemingly foolproof way to protect their products from evildoers on the Web-–right click prevention scripts. These Javascripts disable the right-click menus of the browser and--in the more brutal versions--show the visitor an alert box stating that all the contents are copyrighted.

First of all, these scripts are easily hackable by turning off Javascript. Secondly, they make you appear rather arrogant and patronizing. A copyright statement on the site indicates to the visitor clearly that you are not a free-for-all resource; no need to neuter the visitor’s browser functionality. You simply cannot protect anything you put online. As soon as it hits the screen, there is a way to reach and store it; actually, that is one of the many benefits of the Web.

The only thing a right-click-disabling script does is hurt visitors to your site that like to use the extra functionality their browsers offer them in the context menu. For example, they might want to open a gallery link in another browser or tab to load the pages for viewing later while reading on, and they do that by right-clicking or shift-clicking the link. Nothing on the client side is hack-proof. If you want certain parts of your site to be only accessible to a chosen few, server security is your friend.


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