Open Letter to Webmasters

Dear Webmasters of the world,

As you launch into some massive redesign of your site, consider usability over all else. Yes, it’s all very cute and impressive if you can use lots of Flash animation (BTW, Flash is going bye-bye in case you haven’t gotten that memo) to make things move around and bounce and stuff, but it’s only cute and impressive the first time the user sees it. After that it’s a waste of the user’s time. If I find myself waiting for your site to do anything besides simply load, at best my attention will wander and at worst I’ll lose interest in your company and its products altogether. This statement may lead you to think that I have the attention span of of a hyperactive seven-year-old who’s been drinking Red Bull, but in truth I’m a fairly patient person in my mid-40s with an above-average education. I just don’t like having my time wasted, and I particluarly don’t like having my time wasted when it’s not my choice to be digging around on your site in the first place.

Try looking at it this way: pretend you’re not seeing your site for the first time. Yes, first impressions are important, so you need to consider that separately, but bear with me. Pretend you’re seeing your site for the 45th time, and you happen to be looking at the site because your job requires you to visit the site frequently to e.g. obtain techinical information. Put yourself in that position and then think about just how cute and impressive it is that you’re sitting there waiting as bits of your site bounce around on the screen, holding you up from actually obtaining the information that brought you to the site in the first place. Multiply the time you’re waiting by 45 and then think about how cute the site really is.

Another thing: make sure the email address on your Contact page actually works. That way if someone takes the time to write to you to provide constructive criticism about your cutesy Flash animation and how it’s wasting their time, they won’t fly into a fury and tell their management to never, ever do business with your company again when their email bounces back.

Just my $0.02 worth, of course.

Hugs and kisses,


By adam

Go ahead, try to summarize yourself in a sentence or two.


  1. One small quibble – it’s neither cute nor impressive the first time. It’s annoying every single time.

    On the subject of bad web design – why did everyone wait until most smartphone had browsers perfectly capable of rendering a regular webpage to release a useless mobile version of their site?

  2. Oh, I dunno. I’d say I’ve seen one or two Flash-laden sites which are cute and/or impressive the first time.

    On the subject of mobile versions, though: the website which inspired my rant is now completely unusable from an iPad. Their older version worked fine with the 3rd-party iPad browser I use. Now, one might think that a site devoted to microcontrollers and other bits of industrial electronics wouldn’t have many iPad visitors, but I frequently use my iPad to read PDF data sheets and manuals, and now I can no longer download PDFs from that site directly from my iPad. I suppose I could blame Apple and/or Adobe for the lack of Flash on my iPad, but the point is that the old site didn’t require Flash for me to download the PDFs.

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