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The HyperTerrorist Checklist of WWWeb Design Errors

From: jorn@mcs.com Newsgroups: alt.hypertext, comp.infosystems.www.authoring.misc, alt.culture.www Date: Fri Jan 05 11:47:41 CST 1996 Summary: a way to give feedback to problem sites

[_] Undescriptive title
If someone saves a bookmark for this page, the <title> will be its name on the bookmark-menu. Does it suffice for this?

[_] Page too short
Remember that it takes several seconds to load each page… and much longer from the antipodes. Does the content have enough individuality to need its own page?

[_] Link-drunk (massive use of short pages)

[_] Page too long– break it up
32kb is considered a maximum size for some applications.

[_] Undescriptive table of contents
ToC’s should include a brief summary of each ‚chapter‘ to allow readers to skip over already-familiar topics.

[_] Unflagged #-link (I recommend using the character „#“ to flag these)
Links within a single document can be disorienting if you don’t know that’s what they are. Using <a>#</a> as the anchor seems reasonable (or <a>^#</a> to warn people it will take them back in the document).

[_] Page links to self (link should be disabled)
Often a standard set of buttons will produce a self-link, but these should be disabled on the page itself. The button can remain, for consistency, but not ‚live‘.

[_] „Gotcha“ link (leads to little or no content, or just a gif, w/o warning)
Every link should accurately describe where it leads. If it seems to promise something it doesn’t deliver, that’s a ‚gotcha‘.

[_] „False alarm“ links (warn you off a link you could follow)
Threatens some danger (eg, a weird file format) that isn’t really an imminent danger.

[_] Link-inflation (linking repeatedly to the same page)
If you write a page that uses the word „memetics“ a dozen times, only one of them should be the live link to the memetics page.

[_] Unannotated hotlist
If it’s worth linking to, you should say why you like it.

[_] Undescriptive anchor/link text (doesn’t explain what it links to)

[_] Stairmaster fallacy
If files are to be read in series, you should have a „Next“ button at the end of each– you shouldn’t have to go ‚upstairs‘ to the ToC, and then back down.

[_] Orphan page (no up-link)
Every page should have a button that leads back to its context, because someone might want to link to it directly (in which case the browser’s ‚back‘ function won’t suffice).

[_] Foster-orphan (uplink skips levels)
The up-link ought to go up one step, not several. A ‚Top‘ button may be used for the latter function.

[_] ‚Grandorphans‘ (content hidden in unhinted depths)
If you’ve bothered to create useful content, you shouldn’t hide it under a menu-item that doesn’t mention it.

[_] Too-long paragraphs of text
For reading onscreen, very short paragraphs work much better.

[_] Footnotes look like ‚real‘ links
WWWeb users expect much more from a live link than just a technical reference. Make them look different <a>[1#]</a> or don’t make them ‚live‘ at all.

[_] Footnotes segregated in separate file
You shouldn’t have to jump between files to check footnotes. Put them at the bottom of each page.

[_] Too-long list of items needs internal sorting
Grouping comparable items together makes browsing much easier.

[_] Material formatted for non-HTML display
It’s not that much work to put „<p>“ between paragraphs rather than just using <pre>. A simple search-and-replace should be able to do it. If the text is worth posting, it’s worth massaging a little. (Ditto for other special formats, like word-processor files.)

[_] Imagemaps missing text alternative
Excludes Lynx users.

[_] Images missing ALT text (results in [IMAGE] or [INLINE] or [LINK])
Just including ALT=““ will make these unsightly things vanish. (If there’s important text in the graphic, it should be dup-ed as ALT text.)

[_] Missed opportunities for live links
Every page you post, you should really spend half an hour with Altavista to find a few things it can link to. It’s a very easy way to make your pages livelier.

[_] Email address without live ‚mailto‘ URL
Use this: <a href=“/mailto:whoever@wherever.whatever“>who@where.what</a> It will allow that person to be emailed immediately.

[_] Newsgroup reference without live ’news:‘ URL
Use this: <a href=“/news:news.group.name“>news.group.name</a> Many WWWeb-browsers will connect straight to the group from this link.

[_] No feedback-button on page
Every page can use a feedback button at the bottom that mails a comment to the page owner, for instant corrections.

[_] No indication of bottom of page
Some sort of ‚footer‘ than indicates you’ve reached the bottom is a nice convention to include.

[_] Vacuous hypertext theory
There’s way too much theory and not enough practice!

[_] Advocating design errors
Grrrrr!!!

[_] Non-hypertext advertised as hypertext
This is especially noxious if the topic is hypertext theory!

[_] Self-importance
Me! Me!!! ME!!!!!

[_] Time-references ’stale‘ (eg, „last month“, „the latest issue“)
I know, you’ve been busy. That’s why time references should be composed as if for readers of the next millennium… ;^/

[_] Spellcheck needed

[_] Broken HTML