The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites - HTML with Style | 4
Appraising a Web site is a complicated affair, and judging the person who made it an even more complicated one. Moreover, these kinds of appraisals involve a hell of a lot of subjective opinions. What I consider a site of sterling quality might look like an amateur job to you, or vice versa.
In my opinion, the most basic problem with appraising a Web site is that people tend to draw parallels between the Web and other media. Some people think of the Web as something like television. They like flashy animations, catchy tunes and blinking graphics that capture the attention and entertain. Others think of the Web as electronic paper. They praise beautiful, readable layouts and carefully chosen fonts and colors, looking for pages that look just so. Yet others still think of Web sites as computer programs, and look for functionality, gadgets and usebility.
The truth is that the Web is all of these things and none of them. Some of the qualities you look for in television shows, printed works or computer programs are still essential to a Web site, but others are irrelevant.
There are also other requirements that are hidden behind the scenes and are not apparent to anyone. For instance, a very important factor in judging a Web site is how friendly it is to search engines. Can it be indexed correctly? Is it correctly labelled and structured? Can a search engine understand what the site is about and match people's queries to it correctly?
Another factor is compatibility. In today's imperfect world, it is no small feat to make a Web site that can be viewed with even the majority of browsers. What works with Internet Explorer doesn't work with Navigator. What works with Navigator doesn't work with Lynx. What works with Lynx doesn't work for people with disabilities.
The first problem with meeting criteria like compatibility and accessibility is that many Web designers aren't even aware of them. There are many people who make Web pages, professionally, that don't even think about these issues because they just never occurred to them. But the trouble runs deeper.
Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: September 18, 2000
Revised: September 20, 2000