Good Design: [Was: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire]

Murray Altheim (
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 17:29:48 -0500

Message-Id: <v02140b2bae91a30dfb47@[]>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 17:29:48 -0500
To: "Jason O'Brien" <>
From: (Murray Altheim)
Subject: Good Design: [Was: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire]

Jason O'Brien <> writes:
>The main page hooks them in through appearance and the rest is pure
>content -- a plainly designed main page wouldn't bring anybody in --

Well, you asked...

Might I recommend validating this page. The comment directly before </HEAD>
should start with "<!--" and end with "-->", not as you have it now "<!! --
your comment -- !!>". You also need to quote attribute value literals that
have plus signs in them, such as "+4". ABSCENTER is unknown to me, and you
have several other small errors (well, about 30, but due to only a few
problems such as CENTER closing your paragraphs -- try align=center
attributes instead).

I don't really mean to be hard on you, but do you really have the rights to
all of those photos? In terms of good design, there's a lot of
inconsistencies in font size, the buttons are overly large, you have red
text on black background, your graphics are overly pixelated, etc. Black
backgrounds are considered rather out-of-style now. If you had used
hypertext links rather than graphic buttons (which don't have ALT
attributes, so handicapped users can't navigate them), it'd probably look
better, load faster, and be easier to maintain. And if your pages are truly
browseable with older browser versions, why are you telling people to
upgrade? I take it (with your left-leaning politics) that you might mind
playing the corporate pawn, providing free advertising to large corporate

If people are interested in your content, they will be interested in your
content regardless of how you spruce it up. Look at the Green Party: hardly
a pretentious lot, are they? Glitz might turn off your readers. Your page
is about 8.5K of HTML followed by 34 images files (155K) taking up about
320K of space in my cache. One of your 8.5K HTML pages is taking up 1/3MB
on my hard disk! I don't need to tell you how long that would take to load
on a modem.

Note that the favorable comments you receive are by nature biased. You only
hear from those who care enough to comment, and then only those motivated
to bother writing. It's a terrible but widely used choice for filters of
public opinion.

Jason, I'm really not trying to hammer on you, but good design isn't
glitzy. Look at how clean most advertising is nowadays; compare that with a
goofy carpet or auto-dealer ad on VHF television. What do you aspire to?


    Murray Altheim, Program Manager
    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
    email: <>
    http:  <>
           "Give a monkey the tools and he'll eventually build a typewriter."