Zeldman's 'Jakob Nielsen Corner'

Take a look at the buttons on the right of Zeldman's site-- the ones labeled "Essentials" and "More Stuff". They're toggle buttons that display/hide extra content on the page. Nifty, eh? Well, not so much.

To me, this is a good illustration of silly uses for CSS display rules. Is the content only loaded upon clicking the button, thus preserving bandwidth? No-- the content is loaded when the page is fetched-- it just isn't displayed. Well, surely the site uses a cookie to preserve the preference of whether to display or hide the content! Nope-- refresh the page after displaying the items and it will revert to hidden view again. Totally useless. (The same can be said for the 'skin' buttons which do little more than change the current font. That preference is also not preserved. Is there some button to hide the 'Jakob Nielsen Corner' itself? Font preference is preserved-- at least something works!)

To make matters worse, he's hiding a block of content that is captioned as "Essentials". If it's so essential, why force the user to click a button to see it? I'm so confused. As for the "More Stuff" button-- why hide the sidebar content? It's not in the way of anything. It serves a purpose.

Lets not use the DOM to do stuff just because we can. Let's use it to make sites better.

P.S.: Why is Zeldman using the XHTML 1.0 Transitional DTD?

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26 Comments

Quadsk8 said:

I like it when you are 99,9% spot on!

hansel said:

why is HE using the xhtml transitional DTD? WHY??????

Tim Roberts said:

He is using XHTML transitional because it is a standard. Funnily enough there is no "cool law" against using HTML4.01 if you want.

In reality transitional is a good step towards XHTML1.0. When it is safe to go the whole hog (especially for high traffic sites) it is a easier to convert to Strict.

People who believe in CSS and XHTML strict only are living on another planet or not earning a living from web design. The web should be about options. And don't get me started on why tables will never die!

photomatt said:

I believe he is using a transitional DTD because he is found of the 'target' attribute for links, which was depreciated in strict.

While I agree that the button hiding the menu is rather silly, the buttons changing the fonts *should* set a cookie that keeps your preferences.

I think the 'essentials' are hidden because they're basically old posts that he feels are particularly useful to his audience. In that situation, I think the display trick is nice. I also like the way it's implemented on Zeldman's corporate Happy Cog site. Of course, this is all my personal opinion.

Jay said:

I agree with following standards, but where does it tell a designer a certain way to organize his/her site. I take your opinion with a grain of salt. Should I e-mail you and ask you where I should put my contact button on my page? No. I am going to put it where I want it...but I will follow standards...I can't believe you wrote this. It's just stupid. If you want my opinion, take that picture of you off the site...it's horrible quality and it scares the hell out of me.

Louis.ca said:

Where's the button to get rid of the picture, the support thomas img, and the useless slashdot.org news? ;-)

carbon said:

did you read the article as to say why it's now a button....?

Scroll through previous posts and read before you start trying to shoot to fame.

Besides your site doesn't look all that appealing from a visual aspect.

why do we need to see the mugshot of you on the site..?? Remove your picture out of there..it's consuming bandwidth.

Brad Choate said:

Tim: I agree. That's why I use it myself. The comment was a little jab because Zeldman preaches compliance so much (more notably through his WaSP project which does use XHTML-strict), I'm surprised he doesn't adhere to the 'strict' standard just to make his point. Just as Zeldman's 'Jakob Nielsen Corner' is a little jab at Jakob.

photomatt: I respect your opinion-- thanks for sharing it in a civilized way.

Jay: My point was to the usability of the gimmick he's employing. I'm not here to tell people what to do, but I reserve the right to laugh and point when mistakes are made, just as we all do. Odd that you're telling me not to tell people what to do and then follow it by telling me what to do. If you don't like my picture, then get off my site.

Louis.ca: It's the little 'x' in the corner of your browser window.

To any others that are busily viewing the source of my site: please don't waste your time. This site doesn't compete with zeldman.com. Nor does it try to. I don't consider and have never claimed myself to be a web standards / usability guru. My HTML isn't all that pretty. I still use tables for layout. The picture is intentionally fuzzy. And the picture is there because this is BRADCHOATE.COM (and therefore the most appropriate image on the site).

Finally, if you still feel the urge to personally attack me (or 8-year-olds named Thomas), do it on your own web site.

carbon said:

Why is Zeldman using the XHTML 1.0 Transitional DTD?

and what are you using yourself!

your jumpmenu??
what's the need for the go button if i select a link it goes on it's own merry way.

Before you criticise someone else's work make sure yours is fucking SUPER or else don't even open your mouth to speak.

carbon said:

And the picture is there because this is BRADCHOATE.COM

The essentials button is there becuase it's zeldman.com.

I hope you can see the irony of speaking before thinking carefully. I'm not attacking you, just giving you a dose of what you said about Zeldman.com.

What goes around come around...why are you complaining at least you started it.

It's only fair you get told

life i too short to attack you.

Nathaniel said:

Jesus, Brad. I guess that'll teach you for having an opinion. :) Funnily enough, it's an opinion I agree with.

The problem, in MY opinion (which will probably get me flamed, as well), is that you're just Brad Choate. Brad who? Brad Choate. WHO? Never mind.

Jeffery Zeldman, on the other hand, is JEFFERY ZELDMAN. That's right, bitches, you heard me. I said he's JEFFERY GODDAMNED ZELDMAN! Bow or receive the smacketh!

The point of this HIGHLY sarcastic bit of nonsense is that Zeldman's followers outnumber your's by several orders of magnitude, at least. Couple that with the fact that he linked to you in his latest post and what you get is a horde of angry Zeldmanites charging into Choateland screaming, "You have dishonored the all mighty Z! Prepare to be destroyed!"

That said, I have to admit that I read Zeldman's site every day. He knows a hell of a lot more about web site development than I do, and I consider his works (the books, the web site, etc.) valuable resources. But I don't believe that he's above making mistakes or receiving criticism for something he's done, mistake or not.

In short, it's YOUR site. Say what you want to say.

webspiffy said:

Right on Brad. Those punks tried to trash my site as well with their flaming rants about accessibility. I bet they don't even have web sites. Put up or shut up, baby. Keep the insight coming!

tjag77 said:

Before adding what I said on webspiffy, this particular article I felt was a trifle misleading, perhaps insulting, as it implied that the Daily Report's navigation is too confusing for me and its audience. It's not confusing to me. I'm sorry, but I'm not "so confused," and I don't think his audience is either. The Daily Report assumes that I will be bright enough to figure out how to use the buttons and at least artistic enough to appreciate the artistic liberties, which is more than I can say for your blurb which basically makes me and any reader of zeldman.com seem like bumbling idiots who can't find our way through a site unless somebody holds our hand.
* * *
I think that usability issues ought to be evaluated in light of the audience. For instance, both The Daily Report and Webspiffy are in English, which excludes any non-English speakers, or it forces them to use a translator, etc. For maximal, universal accessibility, websites should have a version available in every language, or at least the major ones, perhaps with a version in Latin for backward-compatibility.

The point is, nobody (in America, anyway) sees an English-only site as an accessibility problem because they have a certain audience in mind, i.e. 1) people who can read, and 2) people who can read English.

On the Daily Report, the audience is much narrower. Jeffrey Zeldman isn't writing for the world at large, he's writing for passably technical folk, specifically who work in the field of web development/design. Because that's who the audience is, he can use terminology in his articles that might confuse the "average user." Further, a more abstract navigation system (although, I'm not sure how abstract or "convoluted" a button is) is entirely appropriate for an audience that has a more technical and/or artistic bent.

Sure, a very young child or a person not very familiar with the Internet might take a few minutes to figure out what all the navigation does, but these aren't visitors to the Daily Report in the first place.

Ray McKenzie said:

Brad,

The point is YOU made it public. 'If' your intensions were pure of heart and all you wanted to do was present your point of view then you should have just picked up the phone or emailed Mr. Zeldman with your thoughts. Simple as that. Don't take shots at the man in a public forum. It's his site. Primarily read by designers. His style is tongue in cheek. Most people read his site not only for it's content but for his style. The layout of his site is part of the experience. Including the Jakob Nielsen corner and the 'clickey click' stuff.

Put another way....
The POINT IS Brad...you obviously wanted to take a shot at Mr. Zeldman in a public forum...your blog. That is not the kind of thing someone doe's who wants to share and learn from each other. YOU wanted to make a point...publicly. The way you initially presented yourself was more of an attack. You did not approach it as an objective observer with a point of view to offer. You jumped in and starting criticizing. That is being childish Brad.

If I had posted a screen shot of your server error on a website or posted it in a news group then that would be an attack on you and your work. What I did was to simply bring it to your attention...and leave it at that. There's a big difference between what you did and simply wanting to point something out to someone.

My guess is...your young and have allot to learn about communication.

You observations are valid Brad. No one is arguing with that...even Mr. Zeldman. It's the way you presented yourself that is so tacky.

Ray
----- Original Message -----
From: Brad Choate
To: rm
Sent: Friday, September 27, 2002 3:17 AM
Subject: Re: I'm not a god-- neither is Zeldman.


My point was just this: we're all human, ergo we all make mistakes. Even Zeldman. Even me. And when I make a mistake, please by all means point it out to me (just as you did with that server error in your original e-mail). That's not being childish-- it's being responsible.

And I do respect Zeldman. Even enough to pay $40+tax for his book.

Brad

----- Original Message -----
From: rm
To: Brad Choate
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 9:39 PM
Subject: Re: Re:I'm not a god-- neither is Zeldman.


'I'm not a god-- neither is Zeldman.' So what's your point?

I've never heard of anyone referring to Zeldman as a 'God'. A skilled and talented designer with an enviable reputation built on years of hard work...yes. But not a 'God'. Jeffrey is a professional designer. Most people in 'the know' ... know and respect that. I suppose what he is most respected for is his sharing of information through ... of all things zeldman.com. I wouldn't be so quick to point fingers. Kinda makes you look childish.

It's a respect issue Brad. And frankly ... I'd rather learn from someone deserving of the title professional. That way I know that I'm getting the straight goods. Know what I mean?

Best of luck.

Ray McKenzie
----- Original Message -----
From: Brad Choate
To: rm
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 9:56 PM
Subject: Re:


Hi Ray--

Thanks for bringing the error to my attention.

I read his site frequently too. I'm not a web designer by profession, but I know my way around the subject. I'm not a god-- neither is Zeldman. We can all learn from one another.

Cheers,
Brad

----- Original Message -----
From: rm
To: Brad Choate
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 7:38 PM


Don't be so daft. Zeldman's site is fine. It's for developers...who frequent his site ... frequently. I think you'll find he'll be overhauling his site some time in the future ... it's been a growing, evolving site since inception. Considering the amount of information available on his site I find it amazing he's managed to keep it as accessible as he has over the past few years.

By any chance were you a 'playground cop' when you were in school?

Ray McKenzie

Oh Ya ... you've got some problems of yer own mate (see attached screenshot). ; )

Jason said:

I can't believe you guys. Zeldman is the godfather of the internet. Haven't you heard? He has "taught" many of us through his tutorials, kept us entertained through his insightful musings, and has generally made the web a better place. Why not worry about your OWN site problems: like , why doesnt your content fit into 800x600?! YOU are hiding content in the same way that Zeldman does. I would much rather click a button to see it, then to use the bottom scrollbar. If you are going to bash someone like Zeldman, you better have your "ducks in a row".

Quack.

ps - why isnt your writing interesting?

Tim Roberts said:

Haha. I posted a response on this site last week and waited patiently for a response.

Then zeldman gets a whiff and the place blows up.

I have to say that I have slated Zeldman before:
http://www.wiseguysonly.com/2002_06.php#000115

and I told him via email and he backed down a bit:
http://www.zeldman.com/daily/0602a.html#jeregrette

But wow, I have to say I never got a mention or the best free marketing ever. Nice one Brad, and good luck to you. Whatever your opinion at least you have one - and now alot of people to read it as well ;)

Tyson said:

I think it's about respect as well....
Zeldman, at one time or another has helped many of us out.
whether with his icons, lessons, tips in 'a list apart' or something else.
thus he has a lot of fans.
loyal fans.
and while none of us would profess to say that Jeffery is perfect, we have enough respect for him to pose any questions to him in a thoughtful polite email.
not call him out in public.
what you did, in no uncertain terms, was rude and crass.
it's unprofesionall behaviour offline, and equally so Online.
had you taken the time to write the man, and ask him why he designed his site the way he did, you no doubt would have received an email back explaining it......
simple manners.
that's all.

Nathaniel said:

"not call him out in public."

Are you kidding? No one was called out; an opinion was stated. You can find evidence of this in the first two words of the second paragraph of Brad's post: "To me..." I'm not Columbo, but even I didn't miss that.

"it's unprofesionall behaviour offline, and equally so Online."

Since when is stating an opinion considered unprofessional, in any forum, online, offline, or otherwise?

"had you taken the time to write the man, and ask him why he designed his site the way he did, you no doubt would have received an email back explaining it......"

Perhaps. But doubtful. Besides, if Brad had e-mailed Zeldman, those of you who are always so happy to bitch wouldn't have anything to talk about.

I'd be interested to read the comments that would ensue were someone like Mark Pilgrim (who, no doubt, has a following as large as Zeldman) to make a post similar to Brad's. Hmmm.

That said, keep the flames coming, please. It only serves as more proof that it's easier to jump on the bandwagon than it is to jump off it and make your own way.

Zeldman: "You're all individuals!"

Everyone: "Yes, yes, we're all individuals!"

Brad: "I'm not."

Xian said:

Enough about Zeldman and Brad. How come they get all the attention. I mean look at me. I Have spent the last 7 months straight learning as much as I can about web standards. Heck, I even contribute to the CSS-D mailing list. And my personal website still uses java script to write the stylesheet. And I only have one. The wallpaper area of my site is still using an out of date stylesheet known to break in many browsers. And I still purport to be a web professional? The shame. It's like its my personal site. You know, one that I fix when I get around to it. And often put off until I have time to fully fix it correctly. And please people, don't get offended and try to defend Zeldman to the end. I've learned things from him as many of you have, but he's a big boy who can take care of himself. Read his own rebuttal. (which is public on his site, just like brad's) He doesn't go to lengths to justify his actions. He spends most of it pointing out everything else that is wrong with his site. His permalink anchor is even named "me design pretty one day".
http://www.zeldman.com/daily/0902b.html#medesignprettyoneday

Brad Choate said:

I'm enjoying the spirited debate going on here-- more action than this lil' site has ever seen.

Why did I make this post public instead of talking to Zeldman directly about it? Well for one, it's such a little thing. I didn't seriously expect to get a response at all, much less a front page post on his web site. But honestly, last I checked, I didn't need permission to write on my own web site. Neither does Zeldman. He called out the designers behind 99.9% of web sites (http://www.digital-web.com/features/feature_2002-09.shtml) and I seriously doubt he e-mailed each of them first to talk about it. With a 'and-be-sure-to-buy-my-upcoming-book-that-tells-you-how-to-fix-everything-too' thrown in for good measure. Did he ruffle your feathers? Is your site in the 0.1% or the 99.9%?

To the anonymous guy that keeps posting one-liners that offer nothing to the debate, yes-- I am deleting your messages. You have no guarantees on this site. You're my guest. Posting comments is not a right, but a privilege. If you abuse it, you can expect to be moved to /dev/null with the rest of the trash. Now as you can see, I've left dissenting comments that DO have some insight to offer.

Ray McKenzie said:

All shit aside....this is fun to watch unfold.

zeldman said:

I enjoyed reading Brad's opinion and Mike's and agreed with some of their criticism (though I think some is off-base for the reasons I indicated in my response at zeldman.com). Brad and Mike only scratched the surface of what's wrong with my site in my opinion, and I wish I had time to fix some of those problems, like the outdated nav.

Mike said:

Sorry if this pissed if you off in any way, man. I made no intention of doing so. I even deleted the article today. Peace.

Norris said:

Webspiffy is the pathetic lapdog of Brad Choate.
"Put up or shut up, baby"?
Brad Choate likes huge fuzzy pictures of himself.
All of this banter is quality humor.
Thank you all for the comedy. My week is now complete.
—Norris

PS: Keep the insight coming!!!!

James said:

Brad's right about the clickable buttons. They are just annoying. He's a good but not perfect designer. I've learned a great deal from him over the years but that doesn't mean he's perfect. I agree with Zeldmans explantion of why he uses xhtml transitional. Nothing wrong with it anyway.

Brad Choate said:

Thanks for the chuckles one and all.

And thanks to Mr. Zeldman for taking the time to grace my site with his presence. (In all seriousness.)

One last note-- if you care to compare my big, ugly, fuzzy picture to another one, try this one:
http://www.zeldman.com/daily/faq.html#uglymug

:)

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This article was published on September 14, 2002 2:19 AM.

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