This post was written as part of Peeve Week 2: Internet.
It seems that all of our tastes in life mature with age with the exception of web content. It is usual for young girls to enjoy blingy pink toys & clothes, and young boys to run around in Spiderman pajamas. It would be quite embarrassing to be caught in either at this point in life. The same goes for tastes in foods, hairstyles, room decor, etc. There is a usual procession of tastes with of course a few people that break the mold. In contrast to this it seems that web content runs the full gamut for all ages and lifestyles.
The Internet — Back in the Day
A trip down memory lane takes me to my first web site on Yahoo. I immediately found a limitless collection of animated smiley faces, buttons, logos, cats, dogs, purple people eaters, and of course a pulsing brain. It did not take long to construct an ocular assault that awed my 11-year-old friends as well as my little sisters. Imagine our amazement when we had discovered the sixteen tone Midi file of Yankee Doodle Dandy!
Though quite amazing at the time, the silly animated gif’s and horrible squeaky music lost their luster. I think I left them in a box somewhere with my Michelangelo Ninja Turtle and Pogs. By the time I graduated middle school, I favored web pages with clean interfaces, easy to download content, and sites that worked with a variety of browsers. It seemed just like the natural procession we see everywhere else in life. Why then do useless blinged up web pages thrive both in personal and professional web pages everywhere?
The Internet — Today
Check out MySpace.com. This site is amazing. PCWorld has consistently rated MySpace in the 25 worst web sites ever and it is currently the grand champion. Most people would be completely embarrassed to have their living room decorated with feather boas, gold chains hanging from the sealing and leopard print furniture. Yet they construct a website with horribly mismatched colors, a random assortment of flashing animations, movies and huge picture files (that take forever to download) and call it a representation of themselves.
I can understand a little that MySpace.com is a just for fun site but why do companies do the same when they are trying to portray a professional image. Check out controlanything.com. This site has a completely pointless flash intro that does nothing but slow down your connection down and make you reach for that “Skip Intro”. Another enigma is the Brown University website. If you can find your way around this web page my hat is off to you. A third and final example is the World Glaucoma Congress.
All of these websites seem to think that eye candy will substitute for content and ease of navigation. I’m sure all of us can come up with a list of bad websites that we have had to slosh through and risk epileptic seizures just to get to some content. I can understand first time web designers (with a dated copy of Frontpage) having fun with all the effects, but why do businesses fall victim to the need for bling at the expense of their professional image and the end user?
Shane writes to us from Alabama where he wrestles with giant animated gifs and fights off gaudy Flash intros.