2005 Web Usability "duh-wards"

Everyone loves the new PostgreSQL website, which we launched about a year ago. Since it came out, we’ve integrated in the old advocacy site, the old developers site, and even converted the email archives over to the new look and feel. I don’t think you’ll find anyone involved with the website who doesn’t think that our web presence is in a better place than what it was at last year. Which is why I loved reading the ”Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005” and seeing how many of the gripes I had long ago given up on about our own site which made the list.

The #1 problem this year was “Legibility Problems”, primarily meaning font sizes that are too small but also poor font colors with regard to the background colors. Given the number of times this one has been brought up on the web list, I still think our font sizes are too small. Some have argued that we use the same font sizes as most corporate websites (like ibm, microsoft, and dell), which the counter argument being that we probably shouldn’t emulate sites designed by corporate web teams specifically engineered to suck all measure of creativity from thier midsts. But maybe that’s not the most convincing argument… on the upside the number of complaints has gone down recently; I don’t know if that’s because the general populous is fine with the fonts or maybe they’ve all just given up complaining about it?

Of course that’s not the only issue we violate. We also violate #2 (Non-Standard Links; differentiating between visited and non-visited links), #5 (Bad Search), and #9 (Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths).

Regarding #5, I actually like our search, but it seems to crash sometimes, and users have complained about it not working as well as pgsql.ru or google, so I guess we violate that one. I wonder if we ought to give users the option to search all three via our search box. If not on the main page (which would be tough to squeeze in) then on the results page maybe.

And thinking about #9, I still don’t see why people are against the idea of at least semi-fluid page layouts. We do this in the postgresql documentation and I think it works great; if only we could get consensus about doing it on the rest of the site.