How to suck at programming #D – Build a terrible web experience


You have a home grown site devoted to delivering information. Maybe this information is news-like containing important product updates or company statuses and decisions. Maybe the information is more comical like attire articles bashing celebrities. Whatever the case, your site is rather important to people on the other side of the internet. These other-side people wish to download your content using the typical web browser. Hi, I’m Cliff. You’re here because you suck at programming. I’m here because I’m not much better. Together we can all learn how to build a decent web experience by example of what not to do. That’s the general idea. Now, back to our story.

Your site begins to trickle in visitors. First there are a few in your immediate LinkedIn or Google plus circle that know you. Then there are more stragglers arriving by word of mouth. You eventually reach what you deem to be critical mass of 75 unique visitors a day! Time to beautify and monetize! You investigate and research various JavaScript magic files that offer everything from Twitter integration to animated puppies that trample paw prints across the page content as they walk. You find things that feel plug and play giving you incoming traffic analysis and other files that embed ads from 3rd party vendors. You add two to a few then sprinkle four then more. Eventually you arrive at what you decide is the perfect pages. It demonstrates your site building prowess by integrating daily polls, half-screen popup ads that engage visitors with mini games because people get bored just reading the news don’t they? The occasional spider will lower itself from the top of the screen during Halloween covering 45% of the top article and scare the bejeezus out of people who are unexacting!

Your design was originated around the now defunct Opera core engine but you have since tweaked it to sort of work with WebKit and Safari. Still you spend most of your time using FireFox and you don’t even own a Mac so what’s the point? Mobile responsive design is out the window because nobody can enjoy your interactive mini-game popups on a smaller screen! Meanwhile your site continues to pickup traction as it gets Tweeted, re-Tweeted, and shared all across social media. Your visitors continue to increase as do the number of JavaScript widgets. More visitors must mean more interactive content is necessary, shouldn’t it?

The occasional visitor that arrives from a Facebook share on mobile is stuck as your main content, the article which was linked in the share appears beneath the fold which is primarily occupied by the awesome interactive Tide commercial which is bringing in a whopping $.05 per view and making the site un-scrollable as an unnoticed side effect. It takes over 1.5 minutes to load your top banner over mobile and half of your visitors close the page since they never even see the content they visit for rendering your stat counter pointless.

If you want suck at programming, ignore the principles of minimalistic and mobile responsive design and dazzle your visitors with interactive sorcery. You’ll accumulate page hits but nobody will ever know what your site has…

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