on the shoulders of giants

or more likely, running desperately behind the coat-tails of giants.

From Dave Shea, an article on mezzoblue which references a survey comparing the design of 10 famous and widely read web designers.

For me, who runs a small potato personal website, it’s interesting to see where these sites are similar and where they are different. These are the supposed masters (“gurus”) of the web design world, whatever one feels, be it that they are just a bunch of mutually back-slapping geeks, or wow-inspiring gods, their work have a certain weight in the web design world.

Now, I’m not a web designer, nor even a normal designer. So these surveys are interesting to peep into what the big people do.

So how does little invisiblecompany compare?

  1. Are links underlined? (8/10 yes)
    I didn’t used to, cos I don’t like underlining. But having visited so many sites where links are underlined, and mostly in a different colored text, I’ve gone with the flow on some parts of the site. On the weblog I use border-bottom: dotted, which looks nicer than a solid underline. On the menu and sidebar only the hover is underlined.
  2. Are hovered links underlined? (8/10 yes)
    If a link isn’t underlined, hovered links are underlined. If it already has a dotted underline, it doesn’t change on hover, although thinking about it, I might change that to show that the link is clickable.
  3. Do visited links differentiate? (8/10 yes)
    I’m not that keen, partly because I’m trying to keep text colours minimum. I actually hate the blue for unvisited, red for visited convention, it makes the page look ugly.
  4. Is the layout in fixed width? (6/10 yes)
    The debate on fixed width vs liquid layout is a bit over my head.
  5. Is there a search box on the page? (50/50 split)
    Where the section is MT powered, I include the search box, it searches through all the MT powered pages, ie everything in the mt-entries database. I’m not at a level where I know how to extend to the non MT pages.
  6. Is there a right sidebar (7/10 yes)
    The argument is because we read from left to right, the left side of the page catches the eye more. Hmmm, I dunno, I wonder when people started putting sidebar on the right, cos they used to be on the left. And the preponderance of the 2 column in the middle with a coloured background (MT/Typepad look), what did that happen?
  7. Is there a left sidebar? (1/10 yes)
    Yes, my sidebar is on the left. I’ve thought about switching to a 3 column layout, but no, it’s still 2 column.
  8. Is there a top clickable logo? (10/10 yes)
    If I argue that the top menu bar is part of the logo then yes. But that’s a good idea, having the logo link back to the top page of a particular section.
  9. Is there a repetitive footer? (10/10 yes)
    Er, I don’t know how to do footers yet.
  10. Is the main text on white background? (8/10 yes)
    Me too. I really hate unreadable text on weird or dark backgrounds, I always click out of those sites.
  11. Is the main text sans-serif? (9/10 yes)
    Oh yes. I’ve never liked serif fonts. Hate ’em.
  12. Is the DOCTYPE Strict? (6/10 yes)
    Obvious, cos they’re experienced designers. But even then, only 6 out of 10 go for strict xhtml. I’ll stick to Transitional, thank you very much.
  13. Do they use accesskeys? (2/10 yes)
    Ok, now I feel so stupid I don’t know what accesskeys are.
  14. Do they use ‘Steal these’ buttons? (2/10 yes)
    That’s the geek in me, I like these buttons.
  15. Is there a header graphic? (7/10 yes)
    Yes, I did the logo.
  16. Is the copyright explicit? (9/10 yes)
    Nope, it’s hidden as white text on white background. See next question.
  17. Is the designer’s full name present? (8/10 yes)
    No. No. No. This is a personal website. I’m not selling anything, I’m not selling my services. Plus parts of this site doesn’t pass the is it Mom-safe test. So no.
  18. Is there a print style sheet? (6/10 yes)
    Nope. I don’t get (m)any visitors, let alone visitors who want to print the pages.
  19. Does the navigation bar use image rollovers? (6/10 yes)
    Bit beyond my abilities right now.
  20. Is the page UTF-8 encoded? (6/10 yes)
    See question above.
  21. Is the page XHTML? (7/10 yes)
    Oh yes. I wonder who the other 3 are.
  22. Is there a XML prolog? (0/10 yes)
    Nah. I’m with the pros there.
  23. Are quotes educated? (8/10 yes)
    I try to use “ and ” or &#ldquo; and &#rdquot; nowadays, except there’s a bit temptation to just type and sometimes I forget.
  24. Is there a 404 page? (6/10 yes)
    I think he means custom 404 page. Then yes. It’s more than a boring 404 page but isn’t full blown fun like some, I happen to think that error pages shouldn’t look too much like regular pages, otherwise people don’t realise they’re on an error page.
  25. Is there more than 6 navigation elements? (1/10 yes)
    Meaning is there more than 6 sections? Yeah, but I’d like to think the sections are pretty clear.