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Bad web design for the people

by Giles Turnbull -- 2000/10/11

A new UK-based portal, Time4.net, commits several horrible crimes of bad web design. But the people who built it are aiming at people who are not online yet, and they don't care what you and I think.

Among other things, Time4 uses lots of Flash (it's *all* Flash), puts frames round other people's content, and re-sizes the browser window to fill the screen and create a "browser mask" which replaces the client controls we are all used to with something simpler.

Traditionalists see this kind of site and shiver in horror. Usability experts will see it and condemn it for ignoring users. But the people behind the site are adamant that it fulfils a need.

Co-founder Grant Santino argues that the site is like a real-world shopping mall.

He says:

When you go to a shopping mall, you know what's going to be inside and you look for the shops you want to visit by searching for their logos and signs.

We wanted to make navigating the internet as easy as that.

Certainly for many existing internet users, and, we suspect, most WriteTheWeb readers, browsing the site is a painful experience.

But we are not its target audience. That audience is our elderly relatives, our young children, and our parents.

Is this the price we will have to pay for expanding the online population - will web design have to stoop to the lowest common denominator?