“I JUST NEED A MASCULINE PARTNER THAT WILL HELP ME TO FEEL COMFORTABLE”

I have a bookmark folder entitled FAILED REDESIGNS – rejiggered sites whose rejiggering ignored the last five years of increased expertise in standards compliance and accessibility.

Who’s on deck this week? Queer Day, the sometimes-useful news site that seems to subsist on a diet of Google News Alerts. It used to be a simple couple of columns with lots of little mistakes they could have fixed in no time at all, like missing alt texts and use of unordered lists.

No, in this case the lesbian-turkey-baster baby was thrown out with the bathwater. The new site, introduced by an editor with no mention even of the updated appearance, is a classic failed redesign. (And they were even getting outside help initially.)

Standards

  1. Homepage has 94 HTML errors and two CSS errors
  2. Still uses font element for no reason whatsoever

Semantics

  1. They’re at least using headings (some of the time), but they’re all h3s. At worst they should be h2s with <h1>Queer Day</h1>. Moreover, div class="greenheadline" should obviously be a styled heading
  2. Items that are obviously lists are marked up thus:

    <font color="#ff3366"><b>&middot;</b></font>Item<br /><br />

    And then there’s that main navbar, a perfect example of a styled list if ever there were one

  3. Classic case of divitis, with 51 occurrences on the homepage. Why not go all the way and just use tables for layout?
  4. #rightwing is quite possibly an inappropriate id name for a gay site

Accessibility

  1. Moderate attempt to use correct alt texts. But they shouldn’t be in all lower case. The left-hand column’s big rotating ads that link to Queer Day feature stories are all wrong: A headline reading “Judas Priest’s Rob Halford on Angel of Retribution [which should be italicized], metal and his sexuality” has alt="halford feature"
  2. Forms are lacking many obvious accessibility features that even teenagers are using these days; they would work very well with the existing copy

Usability

  1. The design is a mess.
    1. First of all, they use Arial
    2. The page looks like one T-square nudged into the corner of another T-square and another and another
    3. The second column gives the impression of being a B-list of topics covered on other sites but is actually a table of contents for the very same page you’re looking at
  2. I don’t need a Google Web search here
  3. Queer Day logotype isn’t a link back to homepage
  4. In classic Movable Type fashion, story slugs are miles long, viz. 2005/apr/01/ peta_and_flotilla_debarge_ have_april_fools_surprise_ for_star_jones_reynolds.html
  5. Outdated use of px unit for most font sizing means IE/Win users won’t be able to resize the type. (It’s the browser’s fault, but it’s so easily avoided as to be a significant offense.) I only use px for accent type, if at all, and a minority of my visitors use IE/Win. For a “mainstream” gay site, if you’ll forgive the oxymoron, there’s no excuse

They’re in good company

“Mainstream” gay sites are all terrible. To take but three, two of which are owned by the same company:

PlanetOut
412 errors even after you tweak some settings just to get it to validate. (Four CSS errors)
Gay.com
63 errors and invalid @imported CSS
The Advocate
49 errors and no character encoding, but valid CSS
(And let’s not forget BigMuscle)

I’m tired of the fact that gays are terrible designers.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.04.03 16:37. 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:
https://blog.fawny.org/2005/04/03/qd/

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