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Bells ring out the hollow sound of progress

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Looking back on the last year, there is clearly still a lot of progress to be made in website design. We gave up on cookies some time ago - but not the dreaded PDF format and its sinister and normally totally unnecessary extension: the locked PDF. Apparently the new Acrobat Reader version 7 is a lot faster than the gruesomely slow version 6. Whatever, Webwatch is sticking with version 5 or even 5.5 of Reader and stripping out all the garbage using free software.

Equally unnecessary is noncommercial site registration. If it isn't commercial, why on earth would anybody need to know your bank code number and the circumference of your left thigh before letting you in to browse at the sacred e-grove? Anybody, that is, apart from big-headed chumps.

Then there are the sites designed by lazy incompetents who don't know how to cope with variable text size.

And tosser of tossers are those who are incompetent, lazy and stupid enough to not make their sites readable by all the current browsers, and who leave smug little notes suggesting that surfers with state-of-the-art and highly secure browsers 'upgrade' to not-especially secure Internet Explorer. I think here of the grey creatures responsible for the BT Openworld and Whitbybird sites. They might note that, according to some sites, as many as a third of visitors use FireFox.

The other campaign we should have run more vigorously was for on-site credits for website design.

Over the decades I have watched architects waxing wrathful about not being credited - odd then that they so frequently forget to note the designers of their websites.

I have been asked to name the worst site of the year, but that would have meant revisiting a lot of dross, so no thank you. But the best? Adrian James's www. adrianjames. com is just edged out by AJ-reading New Zealand practice, Architecture Workshop, at www.

architectureworkshop. co. nz. Clear, unpretentious - and great architecture.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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