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Don't put visitors to your site in a widescreen fix

webwatch

Reader Alan Kennedy now directs us to the stupidity of the fixed-width website page. He points out that the website designer who fixes the width of a site's page to suit his own screen condemns anyone with a smaller screen to tedious mouse gyrations in order to read each line. You would be surprised how many birdbrained designers do it.

The example Kennedy cites is the home page at the Architecture Week site at www. architectureweek. org. uk (not the US magazine of the same name, which is at www.ArchitectureWeek. com).

The bloke who designed this must have had a super-wide widescreen monitor because even with a 19in screen and Favourites turned off, the page is twice the width of my screen. Ahah, change the type size. Unbelievable! You can.

But only one size down. Big help.

There is another common, anti-surfer practice. It's what one of the internet magazines recently called the 'evil gateway page'. It is the equivalent of the title pages of a book. Here you are permitted to press the button that allows you to enter the site. As Practical Internet says: 'Despite various delusional ideas about gateway pages actually enhancing search engine popularity, they do quite the opposite.

And regardless of how popular you are with the engines, you need to think first about your visitors.'

I guess this is an example of what happens with technology in transition - the horseless carriage phase between horse-drawn coaches and wheelsteered motor-powered cars. But website design has been going for a bit too long for transition to be an excuse any more. Anyway, when you come to think of it, the title page of a book is not really essential. Newspapers don't have one but they manage to leave no doubt about whether it is the Sun or the Independent you are looking at - and they have all the best stories on the front page. Books aren't newspapers, I hear from the back. Neither are web pages, is the answer to that.

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