Outer Court

Tech - Top 10 Positive Tendencies in Web Design

I've already written about the Top 10 Errors in Web Design, and now here's the positive side. (Not all things are going wrong, not by far.)

1. Some Are Getting Simpler

After the portal rush sites like Altavista.com get simpler again; they used to suffer from losing focus on what people actually came for. Or remember when Deja News went from highly useful Usenet archive to a product review site? Well, Google brought it back to usefulness.

2. Many are Adapting to Standards

Many more people, especially those writing blogs, are turning to XHTML+CSS to implement their websites. This is a positive trend, even though most are still using table-layout + (X)HTML Transitional (which is a modern version that allows older, deprecated elements). It seems, overall, many more people are getting the clues, especially those building Content Management Systems/ Web Publishing tools.

3. Google Pushes Accessibility

The Googlebot is blind, and many webmasters — who otherwise might have "ignored" blind users — are making their site become more accessible (e.g. by including alt-text for images). Offering text-as-text naturally is valuable even for those that can see but want to: quote text, use text-to-speech readers, increase the font-size or change the font-face, and so on.

4. Intro-Pages Completely Dead

It has been a long time since I came across a "cover" page (like those featuring the flashy "Skip Intro" button). Instead of dead "We're Online" constructs, people are making use of their web-space and provide news and feedback options, right on the front-page. (Ever tried to track down something as simple as a company address within a superbly designed & animated Flash site? And if you actualy found it — ever tried to copy that address to the clipboard?)

5. Google

Google is adding more and more usefulness, including programs like Google Answers. It's also getting faster and faster at indexing new sites.

6. Blogs

Weblogs are bringing an interesting twist to web publishing. (On the downside, at times function follows form.) People start new (or old new) forms of online publishing, and tools like combined authoring are being published and discussed.

7. Less Java, Flash

Except for Flash-advertising, it seems there's less and less gimmick plug-ins around (including the overuse of Java for the likes of button-animation). Those that would otherwise: 1) load endlessly, 2) display ugly gray boxes while loading, 3) cause browser alerts to pop-up, 4) are not accessible, 5) are not indexed by search engines, 6) may not be safe, and 7) are hard to properly navigate.

8. Web Spamming Doesn't Work

People have seen too many failed attempts at spamming search engines (by the use of Link Farms and similar schemes), they are now getting scared to try. Or if they still do, they're successfully banned.

9. Great Content

Yes, 90% of everything is bad, as Sturgeon's law reminds us. But the 10% on the World Wide Web are bigger than they used to be. There's an awful lot of interesting things to be found online.

10. SVG

It's not yet in wide use, but the Scalable Vector Graphics language (currently available as Adobe Plug-In) is very promising and keeps getting more popular. It's like Flash, but an open W3C standard (using XML + EcmaScript), and what's important, it actually keeps accessibility in mind (the format is text-based instead of binary, copying text via the interface is no problem, and there's lots of options for the developer to include meta-data).

At the moment, you can think of SVG as the "good" Flash, but also as a definite outsider. (Even though the backing by industry players like Adobe or Jasc Software is nice, what's crucial here are the numbers of browsers in use that could run SVG content without any additional alerts or plug-in installations.)

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