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Hunting for a happy home page solution

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Bernard Hunt, now chairman of the semi-autonomous RIBA group Architects in Housing, urged me to look kindly on his web page. Reading between the lines I think Bernard had been miffed at my suggestion in an earlier column that architects should stick to architecting and hire graphic designers to do their websites. A clammy hand gripped my heart when I read that his website had been designed in-house. And on an incredibly tight budget.

At first sight the home page of www.designforhomes.org is natty.

It has sans serif text on a dark blue background and downloads fast with only one diagram - an axo of the website. The trouble is that despite a lengthy paragraph explaining that if you move your mouse over the axo the names of the rooms would appear and you would be transported there nothing actually happened.

It turned out there was more to this page - more because there was so much unnecessary text that you had to scroll down. When you got to the bottom the alternative routes to other pages involved clicking on a mix of enigmatic symbols and highlighted text. Clicking on the site plan page resulted in another non-working axo only ten times the size. Aaaaargh.

I tried registering with the site and indicated that I am a RIBAmember.Now I'm a subscribing member so I can use the library but I'm certainly not signing up as an RIBA suffix holder. The site failed to distinguish between the two. It mattered because some of the site is chartered-architect-only.

OK what about 'Events'? The first two were from a week earlier. That was when I logged off, long after most ordinary people would have done.

Sorry Bernard. You can't treat web visitors like building clients. You can't negotiate with them. They are intolerant of glitches. And the back button is a few nanoseconds, a matter of centimetres away up there on the top bar.

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