Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting Around Bad Web Page Layouts

The page layouts of some sites seem to be designed by people only viewing sites on huge monitors. Google also seems to test some of their stuff only with super fast and super low latency connections. It isn't so surprising companies that don't have much customer focus just do what looks good in their office (which often isn't what the customer experiences).

Zillow and Trulia offer real estate information and provide maps. Unfortunately they don't bother to design the page layouts for the needs of people without huge monitors. For example, Zillow has 20% of the top of my screen used and then 50% of the right of the screen taken so you have this pretty small window for the content I want to see - the map.

I super easy design that would be done if customer focus was a concern is just allow the right column to be closed by users that don't want that waster their screen. But Zillow doesn't do that.

Given this I found another way to get back your view even if the page is designed to prevent it. Make the browser window very large (much more than your screen). Have the useless right column that you don't have any use for moved off the screen. This is obviously awkward but it works.

Sadly they then center the content for specific housing result so you have a huge amount of white space on the left and the page results scroll off the screen on the right. If they just didn't center it, things would be fine. If you right-click open the link in a new window it works (because the window opens as a normal sized window instead of the super large window created to cope with the badly designed web page).

These are the kind of solutions that only make sense for badly designed sites that are worth your time working around their bad designs. Most of the time I just abandoned such sites. But in those rare cases I actually find the site worth dealing with even with the poor design choices you can sometimes find work arounds in case you are not sitting in the exact conditions of their office (no large monitor, perhaps less awesome eyesight - which goes as people age…).

Another common failing of sites is thinking they can (or should even try) to treat web pages like magazines. So when you use larger fonts (very common for older users - very uncommon for web designers) the display falls apart - Trulia has this failing in the vary bad way of having content fall behind other content so you can't even see it).

Zillow and Trulia are actually pretty useful sites if you are interested in USA real estate. Supposedly Zillow is trying to buy Trulia. In a capitalist society this wouldn't be allowed. I hope it is not. But in a corrupt political society where cash buys votes and regulatory decisions it would be allowed. My guess is it will be allowed.

Related: Poor Web Site User Experience (Ux) for stock market data - Customer Focus and Internet Travel Search - Political and Corporate Cronyism are not Capitalism - 6 years Later Goolge Acts To Let Me Block Sites I don't want to see - snd then Google re-polluted the results :-(

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blocking Bad Actor Web sites

I followed a link to a site that forced download of 2 files before Chrome finally stopped it and opened up 2 extra tabs and put a blocking popup that wouldn't even allow Chrome to shut down without saying ok to their crap (force shutdown via Apple was the only option).

I wish I could subscribe to a curated list of such sites to block my browser from going there. And I had the ability to submit my candidates (like the jack ass site today). I also wish browsers didn't allow that type of crap (the popup window, files and extra tabs) to get by and mess with me. Popups should not be allowed without my explicit approval. Downloads shouldn't be either (at least for most files - .jpg etc probably should). I wish the curated list would also deal with this and block more from bad actor sites and allow more from good actor sites…

Are there solutions that are addressing this now? What are they?

Trip Advisor is the only legitimate site I know that frequently abuses popup tabs etc.. Other sites I guess do it in a standard way that honors browser preferences. In my experience on bad actors, spammers, etc. and Trip Advisor (who I guess many would put in the bad actor category but I excuse or at least see as a useful actor that behaves badly so I see a bit differently than all the other bad actors that offer nothing of value to offset their bad behavior) - the only site that I use which abuses users but is useful otherwise is Trip Advisor. There are probably a couple other sites in the Trip Advisor bad actor category but I just don't bother using them. Well actually Google can come close sometimes but really I rarely see them do this type of thing (notification icon is one example of such bad behavior by Google).

Related: Practicing Mistake-Promoting Instead of Mistake-Proofing at Apple - AT&T's Attempt to Take Away Consumer's Rights Denied - Incredibly Bad Customer Service from Discover Card - More Bad Customer Service Examples :-(