The new UKUG website prototype (review requested)

Thomas Hurst tom.hurst at
Fri May 10 12:48:59 BST 2002

* Hiten Pandya (hitmaster2k at wrote:

> The prototype is located at:

> Browser Name & Version;

Opera 6, IE6, IE5, recent Moz nightly, lynx, links, w3m, vim.

> Internet Speed;

Faster than you, evidently :)

> [comments and critics]

In table aware textmode browsers the large borders make a large console

Non-visual clients get a completely useless list of links to trawl
through every page.

The side navbar is difficult to read.  It's impossible to distinguish
between links that have become multiline or ones that are entirely new
links, ala:

Past Group
Join Mailing
Mailing List

Tell me you don't have to expend a disproportionate amount of energy to
work out each link.  Concider making it a <ul>, and splitting it up to
reduce redundancy (i.e. a 'UK FreeBSD' section, rather than repeating
it several times, while wasting the tiny space you've reserved for it).

The top navigation bar overflows and becomes multi-line on most
browsers, despite the teny tiny font.  Concider a larger font people can
actually read, cutting down the number of links (they look like links
within the site, but really aren't; you're encouranging people to

The colour scheme is poor.  The text is very light, on a light
background.  Reducing contrast needlessly like this is very, very Bad.
The logo's hardcoded background colour is different to the backgrounds
of both the table cells surrounding it.  I also hate orange ;)

Font sizes are specified in pt's, which are a very, very poor choice:
they have no clearly defined size on different systems (they come out
*tiny* in MacOS, for instance); Internet Explorer refuses to perform
text scaling on absolute units like pt and px; they do not scale based
on the users prefered font size.  Concider using em's.

The HTML is bloated conciderably by the use of transitional elements.
NN4 users must be punished for their extreme poor taste in UA. One step
in this direction is to stop bloating the page with all that difficult
to maintain, ugly and extranious transitional crud that's been
depreciated for the past half a decade.

In IE and Opera, the left navbar has a nasty top and bottom border
artifact.  This may be because I disallow the display of single pixel
images (along with banner adverts) in my user CSS, and it's breaking
your hacky table layout.  CSS should be able to replace the borders (and
indeed, all the layout stuff), while making the page lighter and making
it more maintainable.  This is 2002, not 1998, after all.

The 'Search the web' form is tacky, and appears pointless.  Along with
the external links in pride of place right below your header, it seems
you really don't want anyone to stay, or find anything actually on your

Thou' shalt not use structural markup for visual effects.  This includes
starting your top level headings with <h1>, and not skipping directly to
<h2> because in your particular browser with your particular tastes, the
font looks too big.  Use <h1> and style it using CSS, or find some other
suitable element to make into a heading, such as the logo.

Use <abbr> and <acronym> to specify things like 'UKUG'.  Even if you
think it's obvious, it is a good habit to get into.

Do not underline anything that is not a link.  That "Home" link in the
corner should be a real link, or not underlined.  Not making it almost
the exact same colour as the background would help, too.

Personally, I much prefer the original design.  It's clearer, it's
lighter, it doesn't waste tonnes of space, it doesn't abuse tables (too
badly) and it makes slightly better use of CSS.  It's, of course, not
without it's problems (like the rather mutilated XHTML, and the, um,
yellow), but clarity is worth something that's worth a lot.

Thomas 'Freaky' Hurst  -  freaky at  -
	An assembly of computer experts coming together to decide what
	person or department not represented in the room must solve the

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