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May 15, 2003

Why the internet looks so darn crappy.

It took a while, but I finally learned the ugly truth about the internet and web design. When it comes to company web sites, someone is tossed the duty to make sure it gets done. Sometimes the guy (or gal) decides to do it themselves: result, crappy web site in most of these instances. If they decide to either pay someone to do it or add a staff person to do it, they go through the process of trying to find out someone qualified. But since the area is still so new, the qualifications are vague. Maybe they see a nice sharp site, on paper, but don't realize it's one page deep and takes an hour to load. Maybe they see a lot of bells and whistles, but don't understand until too late that all the bells and whistles are nothing but code snippets and applets "borrowed" from other sites, that cannot be used on a company site. You see there are basically two types of people: The Engineer and The Salesman. Ultimately this process (finding the right guy) is dominated by The Salesmen, who talk big about what they can do, but that's the extent of their talent. Result: more crappy web sites.

Meanwhile there's the Engineer. He's figured out the coding, the ins and outs, what looks good, what's effective, what gets the job done, but he isn't as good at selling himself as The Salesman is, so he's either grabbed by some company with a personnel department intelligent enough to see through the front put up by The Salesmen, or he starts his own stuff, maybe makes money, maybe doesn't. 

Unfortunately those in charge of Crappy Web Sites have the added burden of over inflated egos. They want to believe that they site is the best thing since sliced bread. They make elementary mistake, like hiding their site with lengthy obscure URLs, or putting a ton of information stretched out down a page a mile log, or use large cumbersome graphics, or multiple java applets which load down the user's browsers, or slow loading JavaScript code that really doesn't provide much functionality, or (one of my pet peeves) tons of links that lead to "under construction" pages. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. 

It seems the two worst enemies of quality web design are naivet? and ego. Oh, and nepotism. I've seen so many people have relatives do their web pages only to wind up with some butt ugly site located on some annoying free server that loads the page down with banner ads and popups.

I really wish people would think of web sites like they do their living room or office. Would you let you sister's kids decorate your living room rather than bothering with trying to find out what might actually look nice? Would you let some sharp tongued suit do your office in purple orange crates, then get mad if anyone dared say it might look better?

Come on people, think.


Posted by Jack Lewis at May 15, 2003 04:35 PM