Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The FrontPage Look (and me)
Someone please tell me... Why is it that we require people to study and pass a test before we let them drive a car, and we require people to study and pass a test before we let them practice medicine, but we will put copies of Microsoft FrontPage into the hands of everyone who plunks down a hundred bucks and let them design Web sites?
You know what I'm talking about: I'm talking about The FrontPage Look. You know it the instant you see it. The first giveaway is always the Very Fancy Widgets that are Very Poorly Used. Like someone put a turbocharger on a tricycle. That was missing a wheel. Then there are the images that look like they're 320x240 pixels but take forever to download because they're actually ginormous and Mr. FrontPage didn't know to resize them. Hello! This is the Internet, not the Metropolitan Museum of Art! We do not need 6.5 megapixel versions of your photos. You know there are still some of us out here on dialup!
Of course, you can't say anything about The FrontPage Look if it's someone personal Web site. I mean, everyone is entitled to look like an idiot on the Internet, just like they're entitled to look like an idiot anywhere else. But it's galling when it's the Web site of a company, government, or other professional organization. I mean, it's like they buy a copy of FrontPage and give it to a clerk or a janitor and say, "Here, Sue/Joe/Mary/Ed, you're good with computers (read: you know how to launch Excel), so take this and build us a Web site."
Take a look at this city's Web site, which isn't the most egregious example, but just one I happened to need to use. Now I must say I don't know who's responsible for this Web site -- a clerk, a janitor, a police dispatcher, or even the Mayor. All I know (or at least fervently hope) is that it isn't a professional (because if it is then my tax dollars are going to waste). Would they take such an unprofessional approach with any other tool? Can you see them treating, say, a new street-paving machine this way? "Here, Susie, I know you're a cashier in the Utilities Department, but it's slow this afternoon and Lombardy Street needs to be resurfaced, so would you take the new paving machine and get that done?"
I happened across this site, too, a bakery that makes gourmet dog treats. Again, I don't know who maintains this site, but let's just say, for fun, that it's the girl who bags the treats when they come out of the oven. It kinda looks like it. And let's say the very nice lady who owns this shop needed the electrical wiring redone. Do you think she'd say, "Suzie, we've got an hour before the next batch of treats comes out; would you run up into the ceiling and rewire the shop for me?" No. But somehow anyone with FrontPage is qualified to buld a commercial Web site. The kicker is that I'd like to say to her, "You know, this is a very nice store, and your products are great, but your Web site sucks. For a very reasonable fee, I could build you a site that looks much more professional and could actually be used by customers on dialup." That's what I'd like to say, but for some reason the subject never seems to come up in casual conversation, and I don't want to be brazen about it.
I am so unbrazen.
Labels: Inner Geek