Things we don’t do when building websites anymore
I find myself chuckling about what we used to do in the old days. The internet when I started in 2000, was like the Wild West, anything went! Here are a few things we don’t do any more and why.
Control page layouts with tables, we’re divs now!
In the old days, to control the layout of a website design, we used to use tables, well, the cells in tables like a framework, this may be a little technical for some to understand, but put simply, it used to work like this, just without the cell and table borders:
The problem with this is it’s about as mobile friendly as a poke in the eye! But this was yonks before mobile things.
We use tags called divs this days, which can be easily stacked like so (this is not actual code but a rough idea for the untechnical readers)
There is a separate bit of code in a style sheet file usually called style.css which tells the divs what to do according to the screen size. So for a large screen the logo and menu will be next to each other, on a mobile they might sit on top of each other.
Using tables was outlawed, well became frowned upon years ago and now costs ranking positions in Google. You can still use tables for data though, they’re great for technical specifications of products for example.
Use images as menu links
In the old old days of the Jurasic interwebs, we only had a few fonts to play with, pure geeks didn’t mind that, but for us designers that was such a prison! Verdanna, Ariel, Times, Tahmoma and Trebuchet were all we had. For some of us, out of sheer desperation would make the menu links as image files instead of text links. This was terrible for people using screen readers, for SEO and took longer to download.
I remember being so chuffed when Google made it possible to use their fonts in websites, just see all the ones you can use today: https://fonts.google.com
OMG these went out of style REAL quick
If you don’t remember that far back, in order to know how many people had visited your website, we used to add hit counters. Problem was if you sat there and hit refresh lots of times, you could make it lie! We also used to start the number really high so it looked popular from the start. Ah the bad old days of the wild wild web.
It was in about 2005 we started using something called WebTrends and later on, Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These tools don’t just tell us how many people visited, but if the same person did, when, where from, and how they got there and lots more information and we can’t make them lie, which is a good thing.
This website is best viewed in…
If you were born in this millennium you probably don’t remember coming across websites that would say ‘This website is best viewed in NetScape’ or Internet Explorer! Yes, in the early days, we actually built websites that would work better in one browser or another. But most of us website designers realised we had to cater for as many people as possible, so we endeavoured to create websites that would work in ALL browsers, not just one.
And later on, for a brief moment, there was only Internet Explorer and we only had to worry about 800 pixel width screen, and then BOOM! Mobile websites came out and we had to build them for portrait shaped screens, as well as Chrome, Firefox, Oprah, and Microsoft Edge (previously Internet Explorer). And this is how it is now, when we build websites, they are not just ‘mobile-friendly’ they’re cross browser compatible, so the testing stage of building websites has increased somewhat, and it’s all good fun keeping up. But that's the nature of technology!
Keyword Meta tags
We still add these just in case, but they are deprecated and rather redundant. I remember inheriting a website back in the early noughties where they had added literally hundreds of keywords in the keyword meta tag, most of which were their competitors. Search engines, even prior to Google got wise to this real quick and made them obsolete.
We now know it’s best to include your keywords and phrases in the visible text of your website, but don’t keyword stuff or Google will see this as Search Spam. For example, if your business is communications, don’t use the word communications more often than you need to, just write for humans, after all Google is trying to emulate one to improve it’s search results.
If you can think of any more stuff we don’t add to websites do tweet us at @polyspiral