So there's a lot of chatter on Twitter lately about blog designs and website builds and etc etc. If you have not been to my website, this is the minimum level of quality I expect for a user-created website. Blogger and like services are expanding their styles to blend the boundaries between blogs and websites, but for the moment, I continue to contend they serve two different purposes. There are different graphical designs and interfaces that best accomplish those purposes, and as such, the two should be separate entities. I am in the minority on this one. Most new authors and aspiring authors seem to think blogs are enough. Established authors have blogs integrated into their own sites, so either way you get a single-platform delivery, though the latter is an achievement that most of us could not do and most services do not make easy for us (or if it's easy, it's not cheap).

I saw a really nice website today and my first thought was, "How pretty. Too bad it's crap."

What what? Why is it crap if it's pretty. Well, obviously, something could focus on its esthetic without accomplishing its purpose as a platform to introduce users to you and your work. In this case, its splash page was covered with Flash animation. Now, me being of a certain age, I was on computers when the internet first became available to the public at large, so things like Flash animation still dazzle. I didn't just build personal pages in Geocities. I used Angelfire too. These are the old build-your-own page and fill it with animated gifs and blinking fonts sites. Flash? Super awesome compared to the way things were.

Unfortunately, Flash has not evolved fast enough. While you may not be thinking about it now, you need to start thinking about mobile delivery. View your site on an Android and/or iOS phone and see the difference. For me, unfortunately, the template service I used to build my site does not offer fill scripting functionality, so I have to (*shudder*) use tables to format the page to look the way I want it. Tables no worky on mobile platforms, which is why I'm formulating a redesign in my brain. The thing is, Flash no worky either. Sure OSes like Android and WebOS claim to have Flash functionality, and to a degree this is true. But it's not full Flash. It's a mobile Flash and Air support and both are reportedly buggy.

When you do all those snazzy things on your site with Flash like have your name come swooping in front the side? Unless your site is specifically coded to adapt to users that don't have Flash functionality, your name is missing from the page. Or worse, you get a big ass question mark because your phone lacks the necessary plug-in to run the animation. You want your website looking in tip-top shape in any format a user may view it in.

So when next you contemplate a redesign to your site and perhaps think on splurging a little for some professional work, here are some things to think on:

  • No Flash
  • NO tables. None.
  • No frames except for iFrames. Old-style frames are like tables except scroll bars appear at the edge of them, meaning you may have a scroll bar in the middle of your page, which looks dumb.
  • iframes are okay. iframes aren't like old-style frames. They're a little pop-up window that pops up within the page. It looks like a Flash animation but is actually JavaScript
  • If the producer is capable, make the build HTML5 compliant. Capable or not, they should be working with JavaScript (js) and cascading style sheets (css)
  • No files necessary for your site to function (such as .js files) should be hosted on the produces server. Get that thing for yourself and host it with the rest of your site. You are fully autonomous. If they flake out and delete all their content they ever worked on, this should not affect you in the slightest.
  • No audio/video auto-play. Only emo teenagers auto-play music.