The Canadian dollar was worth more than the U.S. dollar for a while yesterday – peaking at $1.0008 before closing at $0.9987 – for the first time since 1976. This probably doesn’t mean much to y’all overseas or elsewhere, but I must mark this occasion by saying: I’m so proud of you, Canadian dollar!
Personal tastes differ. We all know this. The internet is no exception – everyone has personal preferences when it comes to web design and the content therein.
My web skillz0rs are by no means amazing. I’m not a professional at what I do, nor have I spent years (and money) in formal web design education and training. But like everyone, there is one thing I am entitled to that requires no formal education or training, and in this entry, I plan to voice it: my opinion.
I have seen a lot of websites that are hideous, both in the markup and in their aesthetic outward appearance. Much like people who can’t properly dress themselves, or like those who leave their house looking like they crawled out of a garbage can, I must ask the question everyone wonders on some level: Can they not see how ugly it looks?
The truth is, everyone starts somewhere. Hopefully they get a good start (i.e. not learning web design in this day and age by starting with iframes and tables) but even if they don’t, there’ll always been some smartass know-it-all who will be there to let them know when they’ve done wrong. Today that smartass know-it-all is me.
Offense #1: Large black serif font on a white background
There is a tasteful way to pull off black and whites together. This is not that way:
(The specifics used for example 1:
font: 15px georgia; color: #000; border: 1px solid #000; background: #fff; padding: 10px;)
Since this entry is all about my personal preferences, I’ll start this off with a head’s up: I like depth in a website. Flat designs can be awfully boring if you don’t know what you’re doing. Elements like shadows and color shading can make all the difference in a site. The difference between example 1 and example 1a is good proof of this. While example 1 looks flat and standard, example 1a and 1b provide more flair to the same block of text.
(The specifics used for example 1a:
font: 15px georgia; color: #333; border: 1px solid #ddd; background: #eee; padding: 10px;)
(The specifics used for example 1b:
font: 15px georgia; color: #333; border: 1px solid #ccc; background: #fff; padding: 10px;)
Offense #2: Clashing colors
Coming from the woman who once wore a red spandex shirt and a green terry zip hoodie together in the middle of July, when *I* of all people tell you something clashes, it clashes. Have no doubt. Purely for the sake of proving my point, I will provide you with some visual examples of colors that should never been within the same vicinity of each other:
Do your eyes hurt yet? If you’re even somewhat normal you should be seeing spots and feeling a slight inclination of a killer headache. It should come to as no surprise to any decent webdesigner then that if your design colors cause your viewers to experience pain, they will not return. End of story.
Offense #3: When your significant other hijacks your website
This is more of a huge pet peeve than anything else really, but it still deserves mentioning. I hate it when people go on and on about their boyfriend/girlfriend on their about pages – your about page is about YOU. Obviously your significant other may deserve mentioning in there, but he/she does not need a whole five paragraphs.
I understand you’re proud/happy/whatever and you wish to tell the world about your special relationship. This is fine. Creating a separate page for him or her is even okay by me. However, when you go on an on, making it appear as if you have no life outside your boyfriend, you make me want to empty my stomach contents in the nearest waste bin. Please stop. I realize I am not forced at gun point to read all of this and that it is your webspace and you may do with it what you wish, yadda yadda blah blah, but realize that by publishing it on the internet, you are expecting people to find it and read it. Unless you appropriately warn your readers ahead of time (“WARNING: MUSHYGUSHY SPILL AHEAD! PROCEED WITH CAUTION”), they are probably not going to see it coming.
This is my opinion: It’s tacky. I’m all for love and happiness, but like most things on an about page, I think your feelings for your loved one can be nicely summarized into one unmushy work-safe paragraph. At the very least you can mention him/her in your about page and link his/her name to a separate page where you may unleash your icky gushiness in full force – Just warn us poor unsuspecting readers beforehand.
Offense #4: Having “affiliates” – A word most teenybopper “designers” know not the meaning of, but use anyway.
I don’t like the concept of having affiliates. When I think of the term “affiliates”, I generally think of businesses and corporations – in other words, not your Britney Spears copyright infraction of layout.
This is how I see it: Affiliates on a personal website is tacky way of saying you’re “hits hungry”. It’s just not cool. If you want a popular site, having 57 affiliates is not the way to reach that goal. Read up on search engine optimization and lookup traffic boosting tips. Comment on popular blogs, link the ones you enjoy (you never know – they might return the favor), and join a forum or two and become a valued contributor to it. But whatever you do, don’t affiliate.
Offense #5: Pay Per Post-ing, badly-placed advertisements, and other obnoxious means of getting paid on your site
I truly, madly, deeply hate PPPs. They’re fake, obnoxious, and make me cringe. There is no sincerity in them. They break the flow of a personal blog. They’re horrible, and in my opinion, should have no place in a quality personal blog.
Working in the marketing industry only increases my strong dislike for PPPs. Ask anyone in the industry, and they will tell you that the one of the vital ingredients needed to effectively “sell” a product is passion. When you’re not passionate about what you do or what you sell, people can see it. Pay Per Post entries desperately lack the true passion, sincerity and enthusiasm that is needed to effectively get your message across. Of course, PPP bloggers don’t care about this, because after all, they’re just paid to babble about how great (more often than not) something is.
Other means of advertisement are almost as bad, but not quite. Google ads, when strategically placed on the sidebar and made to match the colors found on the site, are not completely horrible; they usually won’t hinder my overall reading experience, even though they’re not very visually appealing.
Text (or graphic) ads placed between blog entries or in the midst of content, however, is a major no-no in my books. They break up the flow of text and ideas rather harshly and really irritate me, sometimes to the point of forcing me to close the window and never return. Why must you do this? Are you obnoxious ads really not happy enough staying on the sidebar?
A personal website is, well, personal for a reason. Personally, I don’t think it shouldn’t be your place and source of income. Ads and PPPs just look ridiculous next to personal entries about your life adventures. It’s cheap and screams “I NEED MONEY SO BADLY I’M WHORING OUT MY SITE JUST TO GET SOME” – definitely a faux pas of the personal website scene.
I’ve made some CSS modifications to support the latest version on Internet Explorer – Thanks to Rilla for pointing out the navigation bar problem in IE7!