[Twisted-Python] Proposed Website Comp

Glyph Lefkowitz glyph at twistedmatrix.com
Sat Aug 24 18:13:02 EDT 2002

On Sat, 24 Aug 2002 12:29:17 -0400, "Mark A. Richman" <mark at markrichman.com> wrote:
> http://www.markrichman.com/twisted/

> Please let me know what you think.


Thanks for your contribution.  Before I get into any critique I really want to
stress that we need the aid of Real Designers (using Real Designer tools like
Fireworks and Dreamweaver)... AND our website is in need of some design help in
order to get a flashier, more marketing-licious appearance for the stuff that
executives are going to read.  Also that I'm glad you contributed something and
I hope you're going to keep working on it :).

However, the site you submitted represents almost everything I hate about
"modern" web design.  Aesthetically, it's not too unappealing (I like bright
primary colors, I like grid backgrounds, and I like the sorts of sans-serif
fonts you've chosen for screen reading.)  Technically, the design has all kinds
of problems, though.

* You're using antialiased text images rather than fonts.  If I really want my
  fonts antialiased that badly, I'd use MacOS X, or Windows XP, or configure
  xft to do it in my browser.  You make the site immediately unusable to
  text-mode and sight-impaired browsers by doing this.  Keep in mind that
  Twisted's first major application was for a radio station for the

* You're using a javascript menu to save space in the masthead, but the
  masthead is just as large (or larger, depending on font sizes) than the
  original navigation control.  The javascript menu likely won't work in any
  browser without a bug-for-bug compatibility with IE or Mozilla, rendering the
  menu text unusable in a wide variety of browsers.  Twisted is popular with
  open-source developers who will quite often use alternative browsers in order
  to either test their apps or because they're simply rebellious :)

* You're using tables for all formatting, rather than CSS.  This is a notorious
  error that most experienced web designers seem to shudder at.  I guess this
  is the way that Macromedia's product will do the site by default -- CSS will
  be ignored by older and alternative browsers, but tables will often simply be
  rendered incorrectly by them.

* Your images (thanks to table-based formatting) are split up into ridiculously
  small chunks.  This will make the site unpleasant to version-control because
  every design change will come with 12 new images and 8 old ones deleted.

* There appears to be Javascript in here to popup an ad window.  WTF!?!!?!!?!

* The page is highly unfriendly to indexing.  With no text, lots of
  autogenerated filenames, split images, and no keywords, there's no way Google
  is going to find anything of value here.

I could go on, but I think you're getting the gist here.

In other words, Twisted's whole raison d'etre is *integration*, which relies
upon adherence not only to the letter but the spirit of protocol definitions
and file formats.  Yes, it's possible to get browsers to do some neat tricks
with Javascript (I am actually considering the purchase of a Javascript book
right now) -- but javascript is for *applications*, not menu formatting.  Yes,
it's possible to get human-readble text formatted by constructing giant tables
with one pixel per row.  Nevertheless, this greatly reduces the utility of the
website to anyone who is not using *exactly* the platform that you are using to
view it, and that "platform" is up to and including "the human eye".  Many
non-humans (googlebot, dmoz, various link checkers) will want to read the site,
as well as some people who cannot see, or cannot see well.

So use technologies like CSS and XML and Python and even XSLT or whatever to
make the site as appealing as possible, but keep the presentation separate from
the content of the site.  That content includes navigational elements as well
as text -- that's the whole point of "hypertext", after all.  PageRank would
not work with gopher or ftp :)

 |    <`'>    |  Glyph Lefkowitz: Travelling Sorcerer  |
 |   < _/ >   |  Lead Developer,  the Twisted project  |
 |  < ___/ >  |      http://www.twistedmatrix.com      |
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