Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Back to the Top

Every once in a while I see something on a page and think how out of place it is; how archaic; how 1990s: for example the “Back to the Top” links one sometimes see at the bottom of a page, or worse at the bottom of every section. It got me to thinking - is there any good reason to have a "Back To the Top" link?

There are a lot of reasons to have a page split up into several smaller pages including tracking readership as users click through the article; and increasing advertising views. What possible reason could there be for keeping long articles on a single page? Outside of the expense of changing legacy files I can’t think of any. All new site designs should allow for multiple pages.

There is one reason to have a document all on one page - and that is for printing. It’s more than a little irritating to have to print out several files instead of one, and then to have extra pages for each of the footer sections. Government agencies seem to go out of their way to accomplish just that.

A counter argument could be that the link is simply an additional affordance; useful to those who want them and invisible to the rest of the population. An interesting aspect is that I’ve had many clients who’ve requested such links - even though they weren’t necessary – and not one have found the “Back to the Top” links to be annoying.

Of course one could simple press "HOME" and go back to the top of the page. But ... how many people know of this, or any other, keyboard command?

Edit: February 2, 2011

As iPads and phones are quickly gaining market share the 'Back to Top' links may come in handy as there may not be a keyboard command to quickly get the reader to the top of the file.

These devices have screen resolutions of 1024 x 600 pixels or much, much less so even average length files would be be considered to be a long page.

Friday, April 2, 2004

B versus using Span and Class

I have a client whose company name is bolded for branding purposes. It got me to thinking - ought the company name be bolded using the <b> tag or by attributes in the <span> tag?

Some have argued that <b> has been deprecated (or will be shortly) in favor of <strong>. It has not been deprecated although w3.org discourages its use in favor of stylesheets. The key difference between <b> and <strong> is that
EM and STRONG are used to indicate emphasis. ... These phrase elements add structural information to text fragments.

What are the relative merits of <b> versus <span>? If ever there was a case for the use the <b> element, this might be it as this its use is first and foremost a visual element. After all one cannot know how a browser will render <strong>. Still I would recommend <span> as the branding may change in time. <span class="logo"> maybe longer to write than <b> but it would solve all issues as rendering information will be located in the style sheets.

<b class="logo"> is an alternative. It will rank higher in today's SEO ranking (although is that really necessary for a logo?) and can be easily changed with a search and replace should the need arive at a later date.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Looking at .Net

I’m told that .Net is the future. It may very well be. There are some aspects that I like: namely the attempt to separate code from content, but I wonder if it actually accomplishes this task better than existing languages. I can do the same thing in CFMX. There is no reason to switch to .Net for this reason. There are some minor changes that I appreciate. I like that the default for their forms is POST and that the form refers back to the same file and automatically keeps the form data in state. But again – this is minor.

There is one thing that looks very interesting and that is .Net' conversion of standard HTML tags into server-side objects. I’m not certain how I would play with that but it is intriguing.

Overall my first impression of .Net is positive. I don’t know where they’ll be in 5 years but I think MS has dramatically improved its ASP product.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

MailTo Link and Usability

Too often I go to a site, select a link, and have my email client activated. I find this very intrusive. Asking around, I found that this sentiment was widespread, especially among more experienced users. [See table below.] The browser should not open the email client without first giving warning to the end user. For instance the link “send an email” is more than sufficient to warn the user that a mailto link is being used. I think that usability would be increased by adding the mailto link. For instance

If you would like to know more please contact us at info@glmdesigns.com/

Contact Us links ought to take the user to a contact page from which mailto links are listed. Forms should also be included in case the end user is on the road and does not have an email client or does not wish to make his email address known. This is not a recommendation for eliminating mailto links. Site owners must be aware that contact forms are distrusted by many web users. [See previous post]

Bothered A Lot Bothered Somewhat Not Bothered Experience Level
22 16 2 Very/Professional
14 16 4 Yes
2 5 11 Novice