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 :-(

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