1. Technology

HTML Pet Peeves

Tips to a Better Home Page



Don't get me wrong, I like images on Web pages. The fact is, I think images help make an okay page good or a great page outstanding, but there are some things about images that I just hate:

  • Images without alt text I like to see pages quickly. I often surf with images off, you'd be amazed at how quickly you can download a page without the graphics! But when people don't include alt text, I see nothing.

    Another cool trick with alt text is to put more information there about the image. This is cool because Netscape and IE both show the alt text if your mouse hangs out over the image, so you can add commentary to your pages without taking up text space.
    Include the alt="text" in your img tags.
  • Images being the entire content of the page I was looking at some companies who do Web design, and I went to their pages. They were beautiful, but there was no text. If I surfed there with images off, I'd get nothing. Plus, if the image is huge (which to look nice, it probably has to be), it takes forever to download and after 10 seconds I'm outta there!
    Put up text descriptions of the page and keep the images small.
  • Images without defined height and width tags This has the added bonus (if you do it) of speeding up the download of your pages, as the browser doesn't have to guess what size the images are. You can find out the image width and height by loading it alone in your browser. The size is displayed in the title bar of the screen, width x height.
    <img src="blah.gif" alt="" width="20" height="20">
  • Overdosing on animation Hey, even I thought GIF89a animation was pretty neat when it first came out, but too much of a good thing. I don't like getting seasick from all the motion on the page and some pages I've seen use only animated GIFs.
    Use only one or two animated images per page.
  • Under construction graphics Isn't that somewhat redundant? I don't think I've ever seen a Web page that was finished. That's the beauty of this medium, it's so easy to change and tweak and fix pages that most pages are in a constant state of flux. Of course, a related peeve to this one is pages that say that they change hourly, weekly, monthly and don't. I usually try three times and then give up.
    Keep building your site, don't just tell us you are.


Backgrounds are another tool that are often overused or used poorly. Some of my specific peeves are:

  • Gaudy backgrounds with impossible to read text When you create your page, view the result to see if the text can be read over that cool background. Backgrounds that are pale and not too variegated with dark text are easier to read than dark, complex backgrounds with multi-colored text.
    Use a text color that is high contrast to your background.
  • All black pages Black is cool, black is in, and black pages are hard to do without looking really amateurish. People are used to reading books, newspapers, and magazines with black text on white backgrounds. Doing the opposite, without some background in design, makes it easy to set up an ugly page. And besides, how will your page stand out if all the pages are black like yours?
    Use light colored background colors.

Generic Peeves

These are a few of my non-specific peeves:

  • Frames for the sake of frames There are good uses for frames. Frames allow your boss to see the company logo at the top of every page he goes to. Frames keep your advertisers happy by keeping their ad at the top of the page. Frames keep your viewers happy by keeping the table of contents always on the left hand side of the screen. But pages with frames for no good reason are annoying (and frames for ads are annoying just on principle).
    Know why you're using frames, and have a good reason.
  • Lists of links Why do I want to go to your page if all you have on it is a list of links. Okay, if you annotate the links and tell me why I should go to them, fine. But those long lists of "Here's all the links in the universe on underwater basket weaving" are boring. I only like them if they are the "bibliography" of an interesting article or Web page on the subject.
    Add descriptions to your lists.
  • Lack of content I think one of the biggest problems with the Web is the sheer multitude of pages that say nothing. If you are passionate about something, then write about it, put up pictures, let the world know what you love, but don't just put up a page called "My Home Page" and wonder why no one visits.
    Write about what you love.

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