Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

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Karkasmolen
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Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Karkasmolen » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:48 am UTC

So there's a lot of different philosophies and tastes and design preferences when it comes to the layout, color usage, and number of pieces of flair on a given web page. Some of us back in the day remember AOL's early approach of trying to cram as many buttons onto a page as they could. The antithesis of that would be what Google used to do, just a search bar and a couple buttons.

But what are your opinions on things like hyperlinks vs., say, JavaScript-based buttons? What about flash interfaces? Do you prefer tiny, symbol buttons or larger buttons with text on them?

As far as ease on the eyes, how do you feel about contrast, light and dark for readability, subtle partitions vs. bold ones?

What about initial, intuitive use (like a front page) vs. regular, functional use (like an account settings page or a forum page)?

These are just things to think about, I'd really like to explore both things that people really like and find convenient and visually pleasing in a layout, and the things that people hate and find cumbersome or tedious to deal with.

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I was skeptical that no such thread had been created yet, but numerous advanced searches and a veritable buttload of synonyms availed no results. Apologies if I overlooked the obvious. This also didn't seem to fit the precise description of any of the computer-y forums, if I'm wrong please move it.


EDIT: fixed typo because someone was a crabby babby
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Kithplana » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:07 am UTC

Let it be known that Java and JavaScript are not the same thing. HULK incapable of taking you seriously if you don't understand this.

If you were even contemplating Oracle Java-based buttons for navigation, HULK incapable of taking you seriously forever.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:14 am UTC

1 : don't do anything fancy if a fucking HTML link will do it. Tattoo that on your forehead. Everyone. I'm goddamn tired of flash...fucking Flash..buttons to take me to /index.htm

2 : don't make me download a fucking .pdf to see some fucking text. If I'm at your website looking for a price list, a menu, anything like that - text. On a page. Works every time.

3. Don't put 800 social media buttons in a corner. Pick four, if you have to do that sort of thing. And know your audience. A small business website doesn't need a digg or reddit button.

4. Splash pages are stupid, and I think less of you if you use them.

5. If you must use buttons, text. Text on buttons. I don't have time to decipher what the graphic designer was trying to say with that squiggly symbol. If it's more complicated than first previous next last on a web comic....text. And even then, text.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Karkasmolen » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:10 am UTC

Kithplana wrote:I'm going to go nuts at you for a typo.

Hmm. Kay, well now I know something not good about you. Unfortunate.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby philsov » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:40 pm UTC

But what are your opinions on things like hyperlinks vs., say, Java-based buttons? What about flash interfaces? Do you prefer tiny, symbol buttons or larger buttons with text on them?


Java based button are horrible. Hyperlinks will let me preview the page I'm jumping to, while allowing me to open the link in a new tab and keeping the main page intact. Java will sometimes force an opening on my current webpage causing me to constantly go back, or open up only one new window or a time (overwriting previous java link) or something. The lack of control results in less use.

Flash isn't much better -- especially if I need to bring up several options from the same menu as flash has the tendancy to close itself after the first link so I need to travel through the tree constantly. It's cumbersome and annoying, but I also tend more toward ergonomics than aesthetics.

Regarding buttons, depends on the symbol. If it's something like a webcomic something as basic as a "first", "previous", "next", and "latest" buttoms aren't too difficult. There's no universal "random" buttom which is annoying. Past that, there's some context required to whether or not symbols are good or not. Larger with text is the safer option if you're flying blind.

As far as ease on the eyes, how do you feel about contrast, light and dark for readability, subtle partitions vs. bold ones?


Needs context. Either extreme is less ideal than somewhere in the middle.

What about initial, intuitive use (like a front page) vs. regular, functional use (like an account settings page or a forum page)?


....have both?
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Karkasmolen » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:39 pm UTC

philsov wrote:Flash isn't much better -- especially if I need to bring up several options from the same menu as flash has the tendancy to close itself after the first link so I need to travel through the tree constantly. It's cumbersome and annoying, but I also tend more toward ergonomics than aesthetics.

Flash is an area I probably have more experience in as an animator than as a web-designer, and I see it as having several crippling flaws when it comes to things like designing a whole webpage in it or having it be your primary interface for navigation throughout your site. However, for some elements its versatility is undeniable in its ability to combine visual effect with other elements.

That's partially why I brought up the "intro page" vs. the "regular use page" thing. I see it as having a lot of potential for individual tailor-made interactions, such as interactive tutorials for instance, with greater visible complexity and versatility than can be easily achieved through other means.

I do, however, particularly agree that flash-based drop down menus in particular are loathsome, but I also usually dislike drop-down menus when it comes to site navigation anyway.

philsov wrote:Regarding buttons, depends on the symbol. If it's something like a webcomic something as basic as a "first", "previous", "next", and "latest" buttoms aren't too difficult. There's no universal "random" buttom which is annoying. Past that, there's some context required to whether or not symbols are good or not. Larger with text is the safer option if you're flying blind.
Mystery Meat Navigation is a major pet peeve of mine. I was particularly disappointed when sites like Google and Newgrounds adopted elements of it and then tried to justify it by saying that mouse-over alt-text made up for it.

philsov wrote:
As far as ease on the eyes, how do you feel about contrast, light and dark for readability, subtle partitions vs. bold ones?


Needs context. Either extreme is less ideal than somewhere in the middle.

I'm kind of wondering in a more specific sense.

Take Google, for example (both good and bad): I felt the old contrast settings had really no visibility issues (the white with a couple dark text buttons) but apparently there was sufficient call for greater contrast that they've been playing around with the grey boxes and bars, red image-based buttons, and other similar elements.

However, the contrast with the iconic white field is somewhat jarring visually in my opinion (and I've never been fond of the way they use gradients, the implementation of this in YouTube is even more unpleasant IMO)

This forum, on the other hand, I feel is severely lacking in some necessary visible structure, particularly when it comes to separation of posts, and has kind of an overwhelming amount of white.

philsov wrote:
What about initial, intuitive use (like a front page) vs. regular, functional use (like an account settings page or a forum page)?


....have both?

I was really more asking the design implications.

For instance, how one balances out the transition from the unfamiliar usage of the site to regular handling, like with multiple layouts or separate pages, through indicators and help pages, etc.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Kithplana » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:28 am UTC

Karkasmolen wrote:
Kithplana wrote:Let it be known that Java and JavaScript are not the same thing. HULK incapable of taking you seriously if you don't understand this.

Hmm. Kay, well now I know something not good about you. Unfortunate.

You know the difference. My annoyance, in that case, is not aimed at you. Confusing Java and JS... is my berserk button. YYYYEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH

I found the book The Design of Everyday Things to be pretty helpful for my design efforts. It's not specific to web design, or pretty UIs, but it's quite relevant anyway -- a pretty site with horrible navigation is a site with horrible navigation. As far as the use of Flash, JS, etc. goes, it all depends on your target audience. I'm currently developing a site that has to work perfectly for old Aunt Tilly on IE6 and another where I can assume recent Firefox and tell the user to upgrade if they don't have it. One of these things is way more fun to develop than the other. My general strategy is to minimize Flash and JS, and ensure things degrade gracefully.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Weeks » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:31 am UTC

Karkasmolen wrote:
Kithplana wrote:I'm going to go nuts at you for a typo.

Hmm. Kay, well now I know something not good about you. Unfortunate.
Hey fucker, try not to be so passive-aggressive or someone might actually go aggressive at you, and I'm not talking about a regular user.

On topic, what ST said. I think web pages should be simple. Like this gem. I wish there were more pages as easy to browse and as nice looking as that one.

The less superfluous images you have the better, too.

I find an easy to look at color scheme for your page does wonders. As in, don't mix splashes of PURE RED with CYAN and then some BLUE AND PURPLE AND GREEN.

Also this is what I thought of when I first looked at this thread: http://catb.org/~esr/html-hell.html
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Karkasmolen » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:51 am UTC

Weeks wrote:
Karkasmolen wrote:
Kithplana wrote:I'm going to go nuts at you for a typo.

Hmm. Kay, well now I know something not good about you. Unfortunate.
Hey fucker, try not to be so passive-aggressive or someone might actually go aggressive at you, and I'm not talking about a regular user.

lol what are you trying to intimidate me over the internet now

And I rather think "your behavior has left a negative impression on me" is nothing if not a straightforward.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Weeks » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:31 pm UTC

lol no y wuld i do that lol
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Red Hal » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:49 pm UTC

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Steax » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:50 pm UTC

You're repeating yourself terribly by that whole functional vs intuitive page thing. Build less, get more stuff done. Take your functional page, trim out everything people won't need, and get it both intuitive and functional. Trying to get both of them running is the core of people's pain everywhere: elegant front pages, but the moment you step into the settings page, all hell breaks loose.

Additionally, if you need "help pages", something is wrong with your UI. Do some testing and figure out what people are getting confused about.

(Also, I happen to be a UI/UX designer.)

Also, Kithplana has a point. I have difficulty taking anyone seriously if they don't know the difference between Java and Javascript. Not because of the whole being-right thing, but because most people who've actually ever done anything in either languages knows what they're called. It's like someone talking about smartphones while holding a phone labeled "NOWIA".
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Weeks » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:06 pm UTC

Red Hal. I will have your head on a pike.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby philsov » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:15 pm UTC



Image

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:38 pm UTC

Why are .pdfs, Flash and so forth worse than just basic text?

Because you pretty much told the entire blind community to go play hide and go fuck themselves. Because you told everyone whose internet access is a shitty cell phone that you do not want their business. If you've got information that's only relayed in sound, you are ignoring the deaf community.

And yeah, color choice is important for people with various visual issues.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Chewbaccawacca » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:21 pm UTC



Hahahaha, I can't tell if that's a joke or not! :D
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Steax » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:49 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Why are .pdfs, Flash and so forth worse than just basic text?

Because you pretty much told the entire blind community to go play hide and go fuck themselves. Because you told everyone whose internet access is a shitty cell phone that you do not want their business. If you've got information that's only relayed in sound, you are ignoring the deaf community.

And yeah, color choice is important for people with various visual issues.


Also, people with old computers, which are surprisingly many (PDFs can take ages to load).
Also, people with newest computers who haven't installed Flash player.
Also, people with things that block JS/Flash.
Also, people with special programs hooked upon loading a PDF, as some readers do, slowing them down even more.
Also, people who don't know what PDFs are, and get totally confused when the page turns into something they don't know, and closes it by default.
Also, if you use horrible PDF decisions like fonts or color, it's a pain to figure out what it's saying. It could be corrupted altogether.
Also, if you only show something in sound, the millions who browse the web with no sound on to avoid things like STUPID TRAVIAN FLASH ADS (seriously, fuck this).

And more. If you really want to know the hellstorm that goes on when you offer something in just PDF, try it and let people report their "problems".
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby AVIATOR » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:48 pm UTC

I agree with all of sextalon's points...

Especially the buttons. The goddamn buttons. I just can't hack it.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Red Hal » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:40 pm UTC

Weeks wrote:Red Hal. I will have your head on a pike.
I'd prefer a salmon. As to the website, it's genuine, and is certainly memorable.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby woddfellow2 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:09 pm UTC

I prefer that a Web site obey standards, and I prefer that it be perfectly usable in a text browser. It is due to Web sites that violate these rules that I am forced against my will to use a bloated GUI Web browser such as Firefox.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby setzer777 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:05 am UTC

Don't use Flash when you can possibly avoid it, there's nothing more annoying than having to switch from iPad to desktop because a critical part of the site is in Flash (especially if it can easily be done with JavaScript).

Think about whether each link is better opened in a new tab or not. It's particularly irksome to have new tabs and windows opening up when you're probably done with the last page.

Don't use images of text when a little CSS will solve your problem (I've seen people use an image because the text was in a solid color box). In addition to accessibility concerns you also want as much of your text to be searchable as possible.

Edit: I've never made the Java/JavaScript mistake, but I once had a piece of JavaScript that refused to work in FireFox (worked fine in Chrome and IE). I wracked my brains trying to figure out the problem until I noticed that I'd let DreamWeaver auto-complete my script type to JScript instead of JavaScript (to be honest I hadn't even heard of JScript before).
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Steax » Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:11 am UTC

I say never force new links in new windows/tabs, except for extreme situations. Nowadays most people know how to open things in new tabs automatically, and while you can make a normal link open in a new tab, you can't make new-tab-links open on the same page. It's just bad practice.

There are a few exceptions, of course, for when you don't want to get in user flows, like popping up contextual help in a new window if the user has javascript turned off (so people don't leave the form they're working on).
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby setzer777 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:14 am UTC

Yeah, the only other instance where I really prefer automatic new tabs is when you have thumbnails you want the full image of.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby theo1358 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:20 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:Yeah, the only other instance where I really prefer automatic new tabs is when you have thumbnails you want the full image of.


I think most people would just go for the lightbox these days.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby yurell » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:31 am UTC

I hate Flash interfaces with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. That said, I don't mind videos that are embedded with flash (e.g. YouTube) since flashblock lets me decide whether I want to see them or not, and they can be useful for getting concepts across that are otherwise difficult to in words.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby chridd » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:56 am UTC

Steax wrote:I say never force new links in new windows/tabs, except for extreme situations. Nowadays most people know how to open things in new tabs automatically, and while you can make a normal link open in a new tab, you can't make new-tab-links open on the same page.
At least in Chrome on Mac, you can drag a link to the address bar or to the tab to open it in the same tab. That is, assuming that it's an HTML link and that they have the target page as the HREF of the link (as opposed to requiring JavaScript). It annoys me more when they don't use the HREF attribute in a link that opens a different page (if they want to have JavaScript, they can put that in onclick and have the actual page in HREF; YouTube's old channel design, for instance, did this), because then I have no control over where it opens (and whether to open the page in the browser or download it).
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Jacque » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:59 am UTC

Personal philosophy on links and new windows: If a link goes to an external website from the website in question (or any page that doesn't have the navigation to get back to where the user currently is), target="_blank". Else wise, same window.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Kithplana » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:09 am UTC

theo1358 wrote:
setzer777 wrote:Yeah, the only other instance where I really prefer automatic new tabs is when you have thumbnails you want the full image of.


I think most people would just go for the lightbox these days.

I actually don't like lightboxes for most uses. So often when I click on an image to enlarge it I get a semi-enlarged-but-not-fully-enlarged image that fits neatly into my viewable space, but what I really wanted was the actual size so I can see all that yummy detail. (I'm looking at you, Flickr.) Mouseover zoom is usually acceptable for instant zooming, but really, if I click on something to enlarge it I want it actual size.

Plus, they interfere with multitabbing if I want to refer to multiple images. I am a tab hoarder. (Current count at home: 14. Current count at work: Firefox has crashed by now, but I think I left it at 30+.)

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Steax » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:08 am UTC

chridd wrote:
Steax wrote:I say never force new links in new windows/tabs, except for extreme situations. Nowadays most people know how to open things in new tabs automatically, and while you can make a normal link open in a new tab, you can't make new-tab-links open on the same page.
At least in Chrome on Mac, you can drag a link to the address bar or to the tab to open it in the same tab. That is, assuming that it's an HTML link and that they have the target page as the HREF of the link (as opposed to requiring JavaScript). It annoys me more when they don't use the HREF attribute in a link that opens a different page (if they want to have JavaScript, they can put that in onclick and have the actual page in HREF; YouTube's old channel design, for instance, did this), because then I have no control over where it opens (and whether to open the page in the browser or download it).


It still annoys me because I can't just use jitouch/bettertouchtool's open-in-new-tab shortcuts. I hate mouse strokes!

Re: Lightbox: I think they're optional, but just make sure that you can open-in-new-tab-click too. Lightboxes are old, and should be banished.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:01 am UTC

Is lightbox the annoying fucking thing where I click on an image and it takes for goddamn ever and throws a shitty darken filter on the background and finally displays the image, maybe?

I hate that.

I also really hate Firefox's new idea that apparently I want to look at .jpg files centered on the page with a dark grey background. I should look in to fixing that.

Or just switch back to Netscape Navigator. Can't see annoying shit if your browser has no idea what it's looking at!
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Steax » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:37 am UTC

Lightboxes that allow me open-in-new-tab easily are fine (i.e. that don't try to stupidly hijack the links). The ones that don't should die. There's no reason to have modal boxes for stuff like that.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby woddfellow2 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:46 am UTC

Jacque wrote:Personal philosophy on links and new windows: If a link goes to an external website from the website in question (or any page that doesn't have the navigation to get back to where the user currently is), target="_blank". Else wise, same window.

I believe that if the user wanted the link to open in a new window or tab, regardless of destination, he or she would have made a conscious decision to do so.
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Jacque » Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:09 pm UTC

woddfellow2 wrote:I prefer that a Web site obey standards, and I prefer that it be perfectly usable in a text browser. It is due to Web sites that violate these rules that I am forced against my will to use a bloated GUI Web browser such as Firefox.

So you're that .001% of people showing up in my web analytics using Lynx...

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:10 pm UTC

woddfellow2 wrote:
Jacque wrote:Personal philosophy on links and new windows: If a link goes to an external website from the website in question (or any page that doesn't have the navigation to get back to where the user currently is), target="_blank". Else wise, same window.

I believe that if the user wanted the link to open in a new window or tab, regardless of destination, he or she would have made a conscious decision to do so.

This. So much this. I'll tell you when I want it in a new window (and fuck your javascript functions that don't let me do that.)
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Jacque » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:18 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
woddfellow2 wrote:
Jacque wrote:Personal philosophy on links and new windows: If a link goes to an external website from the website in question (or any page that doesn't have the navigation to get back to where the user currently is), target="_blank". Else wise, same window.

I believe that if the user wanted the link to open in a new window or tab, regardless of destination, he or she would have made a conscious decision to do so.

This. So much this. I'll tell you when I want it in a new window (and fuck your javascript functions that don't let me do that.)

I'd probably prefer that when browsing websites, but coming from the marketing / production side of creating for the web...

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Kewangji » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

"Haha, make our customers not annoyed when haha browsing our site? Why would we do haha that? Haaah."
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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:51 pm UTC

Jacque wrote:I'd probably prefer that when browsing websites, but coming from the marketing / production side of creating for the web...
Well... explain it to me like I'm 5 as to why using javascript to open a new page in the same window is better than a straight link to the page that looks at a cookie or what have you to verify I have the require access to view the page.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby Jacque » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:32 pm UTC

Wut? Verifying access? Who's using Javascript to open new pages in the same window? I don't think we're talking about the same things, or work today has got me burned out more than usual or something...

EDIT: Oh, I see, I wasn't referring to the bit of your post about about javascript stopping people doing things.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:39 pm UTC

.... carry on then! (But seriously, I'll tell you when to go to a new window. Always open in the same window unless I tell you otherwise.)
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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Re: Web Aesthetics & Ergonomics

Postby setzer777 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:45 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:.... carry on then! (But seriously, I'll tell you when to go to a new window. Always open in the same window unless I tell you otherwise.)


Yeah, I suppose the only situation where you'd really want to default to new window is if your site navigation isn't stored in the cache so that leaving (or reloading) the site would cause you to lose your place.
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