Google Blogoscoped

Friday, February 18, 2005

Well-Designed Sites

Mark in the forum asked which sites I like, and I wanted to add some more positive examples after pointing out design errors.

First of all, a site’s visual design is one of many factors. A site is a social and dynamic thing; it is linked to from sites, it can be accessed in search engines, it can be bookmarked, briefly glanced over, printed, copied, refreshed, scrolled, muted, and so on. The server may be slow or fast, and you may have full control or little over it. There may be advertisement to take care of.

We need to take all these issues into account when we think of a “design.” We must think of a first-time visitor; we must think of a mainstream news source backlink; of 10,000 slashdotters stomping over us; we must think of the one-time visitor who comes from a search engine and leaves after 5 seconds. We must think of how easy it is to create inbound links; how easy it is to read the main text, see the author and date of a post, its permalink and headline, and how easy it is to get back to us. How easy it is to post a comment. How easy it is to get home, or see the archive, or perform a search. We must always think of the loading speed, as well as the loading order, and what is there first to make for a relaxed wait for what’s to come. We must think of cell phones and W3C validation. How easy it is to differentiate different posts, or remember where one was.

All of these factors play together and in the best designs, it will all look very easy. I’d say if in doubt, remove something rather than add something to the design. Finally, inspiration for web sites shouldn’t just be found online; it can be found in books, movies, and the world outside itself – the more you move away from copies and the closer you get to the source of things, the more original your work will be. But here are some very nice sites:

Post in the forum if you want to add some, this list is by no means complete. And as for books or similar, I suggest you take a look at Fantagraphics; they have the most original visuals around in the form of underground comic books.

Google’s AutoLink Feature

The last Google Toolbar 3 comes with an AutoLink feature. If you switch it on it will turn street addresses into links to Google Maps, among other things. This feature is getting a lot of heat the past days because it reminds many of Microsoft’s Smart Tags feature which some years ago they had to cancel after too much criticism. Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer, Slashdot and others tackled the issue. Dan Gillmor says:

“Several years ago, Microsoft was pounded – correctly – for the “Smart Tags” feature it was slipping onto people’s PCs. This essentially created hyperlinks where none had existed before, and sent people clicking on those links to Microsoft-chosen content. It was insidious, and a number of folks (...) denounced the move so loudly that the company was basically forced to back away. (...)

[It’s an] unfortunate move by a company that is looking to continue its hypergrowth. With its enormous market share in search, Google is starting to act in ways that are reminiscent of our favorite monopolist.”

Should a third-party plug-in be able to change what you see in the browser and create content – links – that weren’t there before? I’m certain there’s a critical fine line running somewhere, though on first glance I’d say it’s up to everyone what kind of browser settings they choose. Anil Dash says:

“I’ve always thought that a user agent (the software that decodes a web page so that you can work with it) should be able to do whatever it wants. In the same way I can rip, mix and burn all the other media I bring into my computer, something as straightforward as an HTML page should be fodder for processing however I want.”

Japanese Product Translations

The Haiku-like product description of the “Software ear pick” is “In ear kind ear pick.” In case you’re confused, that’s a Google translation from Japanese found by J-Walk. Just navigate the left-hand menu of this Japanese store for some good laughs. And check the “wind water key holder” section...

Podcast Network

Steve Rubel points to the new Podcast Network.

Google Oregon

“Google Inc. has bought 30 acres of land from the Port Authority of The Dalles, Oregon, for a new technology infrastructure facility, the Web’s No. 1 search engine said on Thursday.”
– Reuters, Google to Open Technology Facility in Oregon, Feb 17, 2005

NYT Buys

The New Yort Times has bought (Google was also involved in the recent bidding.) [Via Gary.]

Yahoo Local Germany

Yahoo now offers its “yellow pages” local search option for Germany.

In other Yahoo news, the latest Yahoo blog post puts a focus on memes in general, and the Long Tail meme in particular.


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!