Are web sites identical?

28 Jul 2004

François Briatte has wondered this, which led him to conduct a survey of 10 CSS designers web sites and their similarities. The results are really interesting reading. Eric Meyer made the suggestion that we explain our reasons for our choices, and there a few points where I feel I’m a bit lacking.

Here are the ones I wanted to briefly comment on:

Are links underlined?

No – I still uhm and ahh about this one. There are good basic usability reasons for underlining links, but I haven’t yet brought myself to do it. I don’t like seeing links underlined, it breaks up the text too much for me. I know precious visual sensibilities should take second place, and I might reconsider this one.

Are hovered links underlined?

No – although they could be. Add to the ‘to do list’.

Do visited links differentiate?

No – but this will be sorted in the new design (if it ever sees the light of day)

Is the main text on white background?

Yes – This is mainly because:

  1. I like white. White is crisp, clean and looks good. There’s not enough white in the world if you ask me.
  2. What doesn’t work on white? Just white (oh, and maybe pale yellow).
  3. My colorblindness can make me a bit unadventurous with colour.

Is the main text sans-serif?

Yes – I believe its easier to read body copy on-screen in sans-serif. Strangely, this is the opposite of print design.

Is the DOCTYPE Strict?

Yes – this was a exercise in smugness, dressed up as ‘learning about W3C specs’.

Do they use accesskeys?

No – I did originally have oodles of accesskeys, but recent thinking has made me shun them. Basically, there just aren’t enough spare keys around.

Do they use ‘Steal these’ buttons?

No Рbut as Fran̤ois pointed out, I did until recently. These little things are everywhere. I felt the time was right to make my own.

Is there a print style sheet?

No – Something else I haven’t got around to doing. Silly really, it wouldn’t take long to knock up a basic print stylesheet. Another one for the list.

Is there a 404 page?

No – although I did have one until recently. My move to Textpattern has meant that I needed to rethink how I made my 404 page. Another one for the list.

That concludes the case for the defense m’lud. One issue I’m particularly keen to know your opinions on, is whether links should be underlined? What do you expect when you see to denote a link? Let me know your thoughts…

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