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Even the virtuous succumb to the gateway of evil


Sustainability Works' website at www. sustainabilityworks. org. uk offers a 'free and comprehensive one-stop' site for all the issues to do with sustainability. You couldn't get a simpler-looking site: contents on the left, scrollable text on the right. Not a slow-loading image in sight. Great, you think in anticipation, here is an utterly virtuous and potentially crucial site for architects. But the evil gateway page at the beginning should have warned you, because you are soon in a state of bewilderment.

First of all you have to register. It's not at all clear why you should, but there it is, virtuous site, so you put up with the tiresome bother, and, dammit, you accidentally add an unwanted consonant to your name. You start to correct it. Uh oh, you can't. Whatever.

Into the site we go. And here revealed is a real horseless carriage - only in books can you afford to have text running up the side of the screen and mysterious rainbow-striped rectangles and lots and lots and lots and lots of text. So maybe the function of the site calls for it. Or maybe it could have been better organised. And designed.

Because you soon discover that the width of the contents panel (more than a third of the screen on the left) remains more or less fixed throughout the site.

So there is lots of scrolling of text on the right, which should, anyway, be a lot, lot, shorter.

It is not especially clear to the nowbaffled visitor what qualitative differences there might be between the links at top and bottom of the verbose contents panel. For example, there is a 'background reference guide'at the top and a 'background' below. Eh? So you try to find out by clicking the former. Up comes a welcome - and yet another demand for your name and email address. Guys, I've already done that at least twice.

So, time to call in a taxonomist. But, hey, full marks for one crucial thing: you can change the size of the text.

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