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©01 The Media Desk

        The Desk had an opportunity to look at a number of websites that are supposed to be on the cutting edge of 'Alternative Sciences' and heavy into 'Advanced Thinking'. Sites that 'Expose the Truth' and 'Demand Answers'.
        Hoping for deep insights into the secrets of the Great Pyramid the truth about Shadow People, or the Lines of Power that encircle the Earth. Maybe something new about Human Mental Powers or advances in Alien Contacts. It spent most of the weekend hitting everything Art Bell has ever had on his show or links page and a few others besides. The Desk went Cruising....

        And what did it find?

        Well. Several were simply promoting somebody's speaking tour and letting you know you can book him to speak to your group in June of 2002 if you sign up now. If he's so good at soul travel why would I need to confirm his hotel reservation before the deal is complete?
        Others had books and T-shirts for sale. Or were shilling for donations to some foundation or other.
        OK. Commercialism is everywhere. Skip those and continue. Half the sites, at least, down in one stroke.
        Some of the others did have some good information, but nothing new and startling. Most hadn't been updated since the day they went online... in one case that was 1997.
        If the best you can do toward solving a 'mystery as old as Man' is web publish some pictures that were in a couple of Eric Von Daniken's books and offer some even more half baked theories without a shred of evidence... don't bother. We've all seen shows about Machu Pichu and Stonehenge. If you have nothing new to add, don't tie up my browser with your cute little animation of spaceships and rocks.
        The Magic of the Ancients was all old news and long since debunked stories about razor blades and apples that don't rot.
        Crop Circles and Atlantis. The Loch Ness Monster and some things about Vortexes bending straight broom handles.
        None of this stuff is actually NEW. Except maybe the bit about a customized stealth helicopter making the crop circles to give the British TV news crews something to do.
        It's as if some high school kids just learned to read and discovered the Vikings got to the New World first and decided to write a Web site saying they had to have help by Little Green Men to do it.
        There were a handful of other sites that actually did seem to have a new perspective or at least a couple of new questions to ask. But then they'd turn around and push their book or barrage you with pop up ads until you get sick of it and close the whole mess.
        And the way these sites are put together... Oh, Please....

        OK. Let's go through a few basics for a decent Web site...


  • NO SOUND. Ask the user if they want to hear your theme song or whatever before you hit them with a firestorm of noise that may be cute and unique the first time, but after we check out your second page and come back to the index... it's just a headache on the hoof.


  • MINIMAL GEE-WHIZ FACTOR. OK, you just learned how to embed nineteen eleven different javascripts in your page. Do you really have to? Flash is great in small doses, but an entire page of it? Fancy cursors are fun, but don't turn my pointer into a giant squid without asking me. And no, I don't want a UFO following it around the page either.


  • EASY ON THE GRAPHICS. So you've got thirty-five pictures of Bigfoot. Don't put them all on one page, full sized, in living color. Even running a high-speed connection they take forever to download. Thumbnail them, link to a slide show of them. Whatever, but let the user decide if they want to see them.


  • THREE CLICKS. Yes it is almost worn out on the Web. But it is true. Main Page. Subsidiary page. Content. By the third click on your site I'd better be seeing something worthwhile or I'm gone. And while you're at it, if the link says 'Elvis at the 2001 Super Bowl', the next thing I see had better be.... or see ya!


  • NO #$[*]^! POP UPS. If you hit me with the third pop up before I'm even off your index page. I'm history. And so is your page.


  • DON'T SCREW WITH MY BROWSER! Do not drop your bookmark into my favorite list without asking me. Do not reset my homepage to your site. Do not lock me into your site so my back button doesn't work. If you are that desparate for traffic, make your site worth visiting.


  • DEAD LINKS. If you have a link to it... check them once in awhile and make sure it still works. hasn't worked in Four Years... take the link down. Please.


  • TOO BIG, TOO FANCY, TOO... too... Stupid. This is a huge category. Even running a connection over a 'T' some pages the Desk hit took a long time to load because there was video on the page. Yeah, video. Some of them had the latest and greatest plug-in from some outfit the Desk never heard of. 'Do you want to download and install....?' No! Others had internal pages that were dead ends. Nothing to tell you where you were or where you were going. Nothing. Some opened their internal pages in new browser windows, neat trick, but necessary? Intermediary pages that were commercials for somebody else. And chains of pop ups that never seemed to end. On one the Desk let the page set and just counted the pop-ups that came up. It quit counting at fourteen and gave up. Every twelve seconds two ads popped up, one after the other. Come on...
            A few sites tried to have everything in the world on their main page. No way. OK, cover Crop Circles, the New Jersey Devil, the Yeti, Indycar Racing, recipes for Michigan Apples, and pictures of your vacation to Disney. But NOT ALL ON YOUR MAIN PAGE! Break it up. Have a cover page and links to all these really neat things. Sure I want to see your wife kissing Mickey, but not right next to the Devil and Team Green when I wanted the pie recipe.
  •         Is the Desk an expert on what makes a good Web Site? No, not by a long shot. But it does know a few things about annoying ones and ones that don't work. All links open in new browser window.
            For pointers, check out he DOES know how to put together a good one.

            So anyway, bottom line time on the Art Bell crowd of websites. His may be the best of the lot... Dead Link Removed site is now Most of the others aren't nearly as impressive as they think they are. And most aren't worth killing electrons to tell anybody about.

            Other neat ones... [This does not constitute an endorsement by the Desk]

    For anything else.... Drop it into Google and hope.


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