July 16th, 2010
The only thing worse than a friend overstaying their welcome is an odd acquaintance you never really liked overstaying their welcome. The same is true when it comes to web technologies and design practices. Some things are just so awful it’s tough to imagine them ever being conceived, much less sticking around for a decade. Here are the top 5 things I’d like to see go away forever.
In the early 2000s the rage in web design was making sites that looked like real world objects – desks, filing cabinets, bookcases, and so on. They tended to look great as a piece of art, but all functioned terribly as websites because every single content area on the page contained vertical, and sometimes even horizontal scrolling. Thankfully, most of these designs have disappeared as designers have learned to cope with the inconsistent amounts of content a web template needs to handle. Inline scrolling does rear its ugly little head every once in a while yet, so make sure to throw tomatoes and shout “boooooooo” at any designer you find committing this party foul.
Dark Helvetica on a Light Background
I get it, print designers, Helvetica rules your world. The thing is, it doesn’t look that fantastic on the screen, especially as small content text. It anti-aliases very lightly in most browsers, it’s Rs are funny, and it just looks dull. There are tons of better sans-serif fonts for use on the web, so go watch that movie about Helvetica one last time and then put it to rest.
Tables for Layout
I have crusaded against these since my very first day as a designer/developer and it’s been mostly a losing battle until this year. For the first time in my career I am not required to use HTML tables for layout but those many years of dealing with this antiquated method have scarred me for life. For those who are still using tables for layout, please, please, please, take a few weeks to learn the wonders of a div/CSS layout.
I took a class in Flash once and thought that I’d love it. As relatively inexperienced as I was back then, I could still tell that Flash websites were a mistake that should never have happened. Search engines, Content Management Systems, browsers, the forward and back buttons, screen readers, slower computers, servers, bookmarks, selectable text, and easy-to-use navigation all hate with Flash. Annoying music, needless animation, a lack of quality content, minute-long animations before you can see any real information, and people who like spending hours making simple text updates to their site all love Flash. Enough said.
Arguably the worst thing that has ever happened to the internet, IE6 has been driving designers and developers to the brink of insanity for a decade. This ancient piece of software refused to even adopt the standards of its day and certainly didn’t bother to keep up with any new developments since it came out. Because it was the default program of the most popular operating system in the world, it once held an unbelievably high market share and its grip on the world only very slowly waned with the introduction of Firefox, the release of IE7, the growing popularity of Macs, Safari for Windows, and Chrome. It still forces developers to reckon with it by staking out as much as 25% of the market share in some areas of the world, but within the next two years I predict it will finally become a non-factor.