You can choose compassion

My, what a busy month it’s been for Failed Redesigns. But before I explain how, let me address my still-numerous critics.

  • This exercise of listing Failed Redesigns is not fundamentally about pleasing the HTML and CSS validators. It is about calling into question a constellation of development practices, from tables for layout (a Must to Avoid for ’06) to lousy character encoding to poor semantics to invalid HTML.
  • Minor transgressions are not sufficient to vault one’s Redesign into Failure – unless you have the nerve to declare a Strict or XHTML 1.1 document type, in which case you who live by the DOCTYPE shall die by the validator. Many sites that are 80% to 99% there are evaluated but not listed, because while they may be Redesigns, they have not Failed.
  • You have to be an organization of some kind to get on the list. (I follow the Web Pages That Suck edict of “no personal sites,” but I’m looser about sites for clubs and whatnot. I do occasionally leave comments on new blogs or personal sites, and, more often, send private E-mail to site owners with repaired code and links to help sites.) And it has to be a redesign or an all-new page.

Before you all start harping on me for being “too negative” – or before you try that all over again, because, honey, it’s totally been done – ask yourself why we should give brand-new or redesigned company or organization sites any kind of pass at all in producing lousy code. With a wealth of materials available explaining the right way to do things, why appease developers who can’t be arsed to learn what we had to learn?

Why are you so obsessed with eliminating criticism? Why is producing a lousy renewed Web site entirely excusable, but calling out the developers on their publicly demonstrated mistakes is some kind of sin?

I’m gonna say it again: We tried being nice and we gave it a go with wasting hundreds of billable hours producing free or low-cost guides to standards-compliant development. And that didn’t work. Sometimes the wasp (lower case sic) must sting.


OK, why has it been eventful here at Châlet Redesigns trompés? Because I got one of the previous entries totally wrong (corrected the same day it was pointed out), and because two really impressively successful Toronto developers are acting like total twats in leaving demeaning comments about me posted on their site. And this was after I declared their work Not a Failed Redesign. But hey! They’ve got more money than I do (you should see their office and one partner’s Cinema Display), so it’s OK for them to act as a conduit for outright character defamation. My assumption is as I stated before: They think I have something coming to me and this will do for starters.

Unfailed Redesigns

While I have received a fair bit of support for the Failed Redesigns project – it has become sort of a meme, really, and can even be searched by tag – and rather too much criticism, the amazing thing is that some developers have actually taken my criticism to heart and fixed their sites.

  1. Number 1 with a bullet is Chapters (previous mention). It’s not close to perfect yet, and in fact I am being too generous with them because they claim a Strict document type (with 203 errors). Nonetheless, they got rid of tables for layout, are using CSS instead, have alt texts on everything, and have basically adequate semantics in many respects. Nearly all errors are fixable, sometimes with trivial changes (like the script element, id names, lower case on “DIV”), other times by just giving themselves a break and using Transitional code. (I was able to reduce errors to almost nothing in under two minutes. Really!) And they’ve stopped blocking the validator, a futile exercise that merely showed they were running scared. Congratulations.

    I assume, however, that the new “customer-oriented Web site” (who’s the current site “oriented” to?) that is set to roll out in November will fix all the remaining problems. Wouldn’t want to pull a Disney U.K.

  2. Next is a site that I did not exactly nominate as a Failed Redesign, nor had I really given it much of a drubbing. I merely mentioned the site CaptionMoviesNow.com (an unintentionally bad URL – isn’t it Caption Movie Snow?) as a site that typified deaf people’s complete disinterest in actual accessibility. That used to be the most hideous site in Canada (no, really – I mean that) and now is something vaguely reminiscent of the 21st century. Their navbar semantics are screwy (it’s just a styled ul, people), but at last it is a real site. I think one of my pseudonymous E-correspondents may have played a role here.

So if you’re still down on my project of calling out lousy developers, note that some of them stop being lousy as a result. You can thank me later.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.07.19 13:29. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
http://blog.fawny.org/2006/07/19/unfailed1/

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