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softwareCEO.com

has the most garish, distracting, ugly, difficult to read design I have ever seen.

And it's not just the yellow.  It's the formatting of the articles into a narrow column down the center of the page, interspersed with bold, colored text and horizontal rules and whatever the heck is going on in the margins...

arg.  What a nightmare.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I've seen worse but you've got a point!

Now what does this tell us of the average Software CEO.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Only flashing animated .gifs and a looping midi could make it worse.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Add in framesets to the mix.

Fred
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I had to keep clicking "more..." to read another page and find another "more...". I couldn't find a Page X of Y anywhere. May be I'm too dumb to spot such a thing at a casual attempt.

Anon
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Framesets can actually be used to great effect and are quite useful in specific applications.  It ticks me off when people (especially browser developers and standards authors) dismiss them wholesale as vile and evil.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Anon:

I gave up after page 2 of the article.  The site was burning my retinas.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

In order to distribute it the office, I had to copy it and paste (text only) it into Word.  Terrible layout.

I have to concur that it was designed by a CEO.

Capn' Kirk
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

-------Framesets can actually be used to great effect and are quite useful in specific applications.  It ticks me off when people (especially browser developers and standards authors) dismiss them wholesale as vile and evil. ----------

Frames do have a legitimate place in web presentation, however, to use them just to use them is 'bad judgement'.

Whenever I hear of someone saying, "I'm going to use frames on this", that throws up a flag to me...  I will inquire on what they are trying to accomplish, and go from there.

Cliff notes:  Frames have a place in presentation, but it is a very small, focused place.

Billy
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

http://forums.madebymonkeys.net

Here is an example of useful frames.  It may not be the prettiest forum in the world, but it is amazingly easy to navigate and to follow a thread once you get used to it.  You can see everything at a glance, instead of navigating one thread at a time.

It's a shame that this style of forum has fallen into disfavour on the internet at large.  I suspect that it has more to do with it being slightly more difficult to develop on the back end than anything to do with aesthetics.

[Disclaimer:  That is, of course, one of my own sites]

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Crappy site, but I think the text is pretty good. I am a tad astonished that this forum still works so well (for communication) with that number of visitors.  Sure, the amount of pointless one liners has certainly increased over the last year or so, but still, it works and occationally we see some really good discussions.

Eric Debois
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

This software CEO isn't fond of the design, but the content is often worth the struggle.

JZ
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"http://forums.madebymonkeys.net"

very nice :)

Kenny
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

-----" Here is an example of useful frames.  It may not be the prettiest forum in the world, but it is amazingly easy to navigate and to follow a thread once you get used to it."------

Yes, but like colonic irrigation, it's something I'd really rather not get used to. And I'm sure it would be worse at 800 x 600.

Still to be introduced to two gut-wrenchingly awful web designs in one day is an acheivement.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

FRAMES ARE JUST WRONG! ALWAYS!

I don't care what your justification is, just say no to frames!

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

No matter the content, i couldn't keep on reading after 3 pages.
The designer of that site should be shot: it is a crime against humanity to design such a horrific site!

InZebemi
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Come on...the design is not that bad...what I really don't like about it is that there is no "print" button for the article.  mOst people do not understand is that for a multipage article it is nice to provide a "print article" link which will show the whole article at once. I like to read it this way although I almost never end up printing it.

BTW if you think this is bad how about  : http://www.johnnyjet.com/JJSFCity.html  :-)

Code Monkey
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

As soon as I realized it would be a long page turner (gee, we only get to point 1 or 2 on the first page, oh, and the real first page is the homepage of the site, not page 1 of the article) I flipped through the whole thing to see how long it would be & then navigated using ALT -> and ALT <-.

It fit nicely in my maximized browser, so no scrolling.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Stephen Jones -

for as horrific as you may think my site looks, my users find it quite.. err.. usable, and would lynch me if I ever changed it to a non-frames layout.  :)

Once upon a time this style of forum was all the rage in gaming circles.  I believe it was Monolith software who pioneered the layout.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

One of my favorite video games is this "classic" from the mid 80's. The premise was you were abducted by aliens and placed in this fantasy world, monitored, etc. Slowly you began to realize there was something odd about the world around you.... You were in a computer simulation, it wasn't real. You could continue in the computer simulation with the powers of a god, or go in to the real world, seek revenge on your alien captors, or take the space ship and go home.

Flash foward to 2003, the guy who designed this game partners with Monolith to make an online version of this classic game, but they part ways.

Then Monolith announces they'll be doing the Matrix online game.

Anyway, that's my Monolith story.

Frames were all the vogue before anyone had content management, so all the pages - navigation and everything - had to be edited by hand, and it was impossible to update 1 link on 2,000 webpages easily. Now all that's changed, and I think Frames have very little use now.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Mark -

Well I'm sorry but you have a biased viewpoint, as surely I do as well.  You believe that frames are not useful because you personally have no use for them, which is of course a fallacy.  I believe that they are eminently useful because I have a use for them. Whether this makes frames a great and wonderful thing, however, is subjective.

I disagree with you that frames are only good for static pages.  My forum is obviously not static.  It is somewhat content managed -- though to call it a CMS would be stretching things.  The fact that you can independantly scroll top and bottom frames is a boon to my users, and scrolling divs just wouldn't be the same thing.  Having to refresh the ENTIRE page each time a message was opened would be a major annoyance to them.  For this particular application, frames are essential, and appreciated by the users, even if they make development behind the scenes somewhat cumbersome.

I agree that frames can be HORRIBLY misused, and the results are nightmarish.  But in the case of any application that would be framed otherwise (ie, email clients ala Outlook, a newsreader, discussion group...) frames are perfectly acceptable and more or less STANDARD.

The users of my forum (and I) absolutely LOATHE UBB styled forums.  Where the opening page lists topics, the second drilled down page lists threads, the next drill down brings up the post and its replies.. etc.  You are already 3 pages deep into the navigation before you even begin to see what people have posted on the damn site.  For us this is unacceptable, and Frames are an EXCELLENT way to overcome this sort of navigational nightmare.

If you find them unaesthetic, then that's your call, but we're mostly concerned with /function/, here.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A very long time ago, one of the IBM directors said, "User Interface is Everything."

softwareceo.com is a prime example of the folks who should not be in this business

Farid
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

1. Place navigation at the top and bottom.

2. It's your chioce not to use UBB or whatever, I don't care. I use phorum and it can do the threaded view you have. I don't see what this has to do with frames anyway.

3. Frames make it impossible to link to a single item within the site without "breaking" the navigation.

4. Similarly, frames make it difficult for surfers coming in from search engines.

5. I see your point about top/bottom message boards, it does make for far fewer clicks. It's probably the one good argument I've heard for frames. If you're a heavy user (as one can argue I am here), reducing clicks is a good thing.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Three frames are too many. You just find the message you're reading too small. My ISP uses this for its web implementation and I hate it.

The more normal solution is the Outlook or Explorer split pane. Remember in Outlook a preview pane is just that, somewhere you preview to decide if you want to open it or not.

The other thing I hate about the site is the color scheme. But then, I never play games.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

maybe we all just need bigger monitors...

Kenny
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Actually, Stephen, I think you're confusing the preview pane with the preview view, which was the first few hundred characters bundled in with the header information.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

No, I'm talking about the Preview Pane which takes up the bottom of the screen.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I know what you're talking about, and maybe it is called a preview pane, but I actually use it exclusively for reading my mail.

I don't, however, think it's entire purpose is to give you a preview of your email, especially when 90% of my correspondance fits in it.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

If it's called the preview pane, then it's for preview.

Your correspondents are evidently much terser than mine, or you have a monitor to kill for.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

1280 x 1024

My preview pane is 366 high by 871 wide.

About 18 lines of text fit in, all of which are probbably pre-wrapped by the sending client.

Firebird calls it a "Message Pane."

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

And why are you hung up on what people call things rather than how they're used?

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I can read about 17 lines of text including the message header.

Most of the mails I get are Newsletters at home, or CV's at work, so I open the mail in a new window.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

OK. Well I guess we'll agree to disagree, and note that it's user preference, as Muppet makes clear.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Btw,

I feel that Bloglines -  http://www.bloglines.com uses frame very effectively!

JD
http://jdk.phpkid.org

JD
Wednesday, August 04, 2004


+++3. Frames make it impossible to link to a single item within the site without "breaking" the navigation.+++


WRONG.  With a correctly designed application, you can link to any state of the frarmeset and the url should produce the same thing that you're looking at when you copy-pasted the link.

My forum does this.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004


  Man I'm so used with this forum that I get annoyed with any other I visit.

Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"With a correctly designed application, you can link to any state of the frarmeset and the url should produce the same thing that you're looking at when you copy-pasted the link."

So you reload all the frames?

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

>>"With a correctly designed application, you can link to any state of the frarmeset and the url should produce the same thing that you're looking at when you copy-pasted the link."

>So you reload all the frames?

A url to my site contains a query string with all the necessary information to rebuild all 3 frames in the state they were in when the user copied the link from the address bar, with a few exceptions (I wrote this forum 4.5 years ago to learn Perl).  I'm not RELOADING all 3 frames when a new user hits the site from a link, because he hasn't loaded any of the site at all yet.  Of course he needs to load all 3 frames.

When a user clicks a link within the site, only the necessary frames are reloaded.

Ahh.. I see what you're saying.  You're right, the address bar does not always update when you follow a link.  However, my users have all been using this or similiar forums for years now, so it's trivial for us to append the necessary bits to the end of a URL to link another person to a specific frameset.

You're right.  If I wanted it to be a simple case of copy, paste, link; I'd have to refresh the whole frameset every time.

Still.. I think the forum is very usable as it is and I much prefer it to the UBB endless drill down UI scheme.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

And as to search engines finding a post, but the user being lost when they get there?

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I'm not really worried with search engine visitors to that particular site.  :)  It's not really intended to be general-interest.

Like I said, frames work for specific applications, and that site is pretty specialized.  :)

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Yes I can see that now.

Specialized for:

People who have the technical expertise to hack a URL themselves if they want.

Don't care about getting any search engine traffic.

Surf forums so much that 1 extra click will kill them.

One thing I like about this style forum, or I guess UBB too is that when you're done with a post, you're forced to go back to the homepage to see what's new. Sounds like someone could browse your forum for hours before refreshing their browser.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The UBB-style UI is only endless drilldown if you start at the highest index of the app.  For most people who become regular users of a forum, that is the first time, and then they bookmark the topic index they use most.  At that point, going back to your bookmark is just one click, and then you browse the topics you are interested in.

Obviously its really just a matter of preference, but I think the UBB style has proven its usability by its penetration rate across the web.  I probably see 10 forums using PHPBB/UBB/IkonBoard/etc. for every forum in some alternative style.  That's not to say that for some people its less comfortable, but just that it works well for a lot of people.

Clay Whipkey
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"Sounds like someone could browse your forum for hours before refreshing their browser."

Clearly you and I have very different expectations about what a forum should be and do, because I don't see a problem with this.  It's a discussion board, not a content management system or a marketting tool.

You're right, my users know how to hack a URL themselves.  I'd be disturbed if any of them didn't.  But if one day I wanted to make the system more mainstream, I could make it easier to link messages in the same manner that Joel uses for his articles.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

+++Obviously its really just a matter of preference, but I think the UBB style has proven its usability by its penetration rate across the web.  I probably see 10 forums using PHPBB/UBB/IkonBoard/etc. for every forum in some alternative style.  That's not to say that for some people its less comfortable, but just that it works well for a lot of people.+++

I think it's a case of it being the easiest, least complex style to develop on the back end, and therefore the most available.  There are dozens and dozens of UBB clones because UBB clones are /easy/.  Innovation isn't, and dynamic framesets (even if they're not your cup of tea) are a bitch to code.  :)

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"t's a discussion board, not a content management system or a marketting tool."

So tell me how, in your forum, you would know which threads were new & should reply to? You know, like you od here.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The same way as here.  Visited links are a different color than non-visited ones.  You can even see how many replies have been made and by who, and which replies you've read, all at a glance.

What am I missing about your question.....?

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

If you don't reload the frame with the threads, how do they know there are new replies.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

They click on the topic again when they're ready to read new replies.  Why should they need to know there's new ones if they haven't finished what came up on the last refresh, yet?

It all comes down to user preference.  You expect things of a forum that we don't find necessary or even desirable.  IT is a user-driven industry.  :)

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004



Their page looks like ass and there's no "printer-friendly" version... which is what I normally prefer to read as I can adjust the color/size easier.

KC
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

You should look at Rentacoder...

Alex
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Muppet, it looks like you spend most of your day posting here or on your own lame forum.  Do you have a life outside of your computer?  Have you ever even kissed a girl? 

Joe Mama
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Yeah Mark, Alternate Reality was my favorite too, I still got a few of the lyrics memorized. So I should check out this matirx thing or what? And you're saying that Alternate Reality was going to be updated and re-eleased but they gave up?

Muppet, I agree with Stephen - that forum is hard to read with the frames, tiny font, and green on black.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, August 05, 2004

Dennis,

Yeah, Phil really wanted to do ARO - Alternate Reality Online, and until a few months ago (could be a year ago by now or more) ARO.com had information about it.... until Monolith (who hosted it) took it down.

I haven't heard anything about it in months though. There are a handful of people working on remakes... but those are never going to happen.

Judging on the quality of the Matrix console game, the online version probably sucks.

Some links:

The FAQ
http://www.eobet.com/alternate-reality/

The Mailing List
http://www.avatardesign.net/alternatereality/

My Fan Page
http://www.markzilla.com/ar/
(this one should bring back some memories)

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, August 05, 2004

actually I've got a fiance and a 6 year old daughter, thanks for asking :)

and Dennis, yep the font is small if your eyes are bad, but we likes it just fine :)

muppet
Thursday, August 05, 2004

Some of the annoying things at SoftwareCEO.com are done on purpose, to make you become a paying member. The many pages to read the article, the inability to print and the article only lasting a week are all solved when you become a member.

It is a marketing technique not everyone would agree with, but it is not just that they can't design a site. And the content is very good.

Minotaur
Monday, August 09, 2004

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