HTML Style

HTML Style
What is good style?
• Good style, like good taste, is partly--but only
partly--a matter of opinion
• Bad style is frequently easier to define
– A web page has bad style if
You can’t load the page
You can’t use the page for its intended purpose
You can’t read the page
You can’t adjust the page to your needs
You can’t get rid of the page
You can’t navigate the site containing the page
Cannot load the page
• Macromedia Flash is the worst offender
• Pages containing Flash animations often cannot
even be loaded by browsers without Flash
• If you are going to use Flash, or other fancy
features, make sure your intended audience has the
ability to see your pages
Cannot use the page
• Many users turn off automatic image loading
– They may have a slow connection
– They may be visually disabled
– If your only hyperlink to another page is through an
image, users without images cannot get there
– Always provide text hyperlinks in addition to your
• To submit a form via HTML, you usually must
have JavaScript turned on
– The JavaScript does client-side input checking
– This is probably useful enough to justify requiring
JavaScript, but be sure your users are aware of the
Cannot read the page
• Here are two otherwise very nice backgrounds:
• Both of these backgrounds have text--can you see it?
Still cannot read the page
• Have you seen pages that tell you what browser to
use and what to set your screen size to?
– Did you ever do it?
– What do you think about that person’s sense of selfimportance?
This page was created by someone with perfect eyesight using a 21-inch monitor set to 1600 by 1200 resolution, using
an 8-point serif font, and as a result nobody but the original author has a clue what it actually says.
• Some people just like to use weird fonts
• There are lots of places you can use absolute
measurements in HTML, and very little reason
ever to do so
Contrast is important
• Contrast is important
– Use either very dark text against a very light background
or very light text against a very dark background
– Avoid contrast in the background itself
• If it has good contrast on your monitor, that doesn’t
mean it will have good contrast on everyone else’s
– Always use more contrast than you think necessary
• Human edge detection relies on contrast--differences
between light and dark--not on color differences
This is a difference in color, not in contrast
You can’t adjust the page
• Pages that use absolute sizes--for example, to
adjust the size of a table to just fit on a 17-inch
screen--are a serious nuisance
– Scrolling vertically is acceptable, because we don’t
need to scroll often to read a column of text
– If we need to scroll sideways, we need to scroll back
and forth for every single line
• Relative sizes don’t always work, either; I’ve run
across pages containing tables that are 110% of the
page width
• Even if your monitor is large and your eyesight is
good, there may be other things on the screen that
you want to see
You can’t leave the page
• Sometimes this occurs through malice--the page
includes JavaScript to pop up a new window each
time you close the current one
• Usually it’s an accident: a page gives you an
automatic transfer to a new page, but with the time
set to zero:
• <meta HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh"
• This takes you to the new page but effectively
disables the “Back” button
You can’t navigate the site
• EPSON has long been my favorite example
• Suppose you want to download a printer driver;
you go to, and here are your
– Printers & Imaging products
– Electronic devices
– Point of Sale Products
• This represents their corporate organization
– What do I care how they are organized?
• Poor contrast:
– Hit control-A, to select all the text on the page
– Otherwise, in Preferences, select “Use my chosen
colors” and/or turn of image loading, then reload page
• Bad size:
– Increase or decrease screen resolution
• Can’t leave the page with the Back button
– Use the pull-down list of pages you’ve been to
• Can’t navigate the site
– Use Google
The End