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Re: [Lynx-dev] Sitemap Warning

From: Tim Chase
Subject: Re: [Lynx-dev] Sitemap Warning
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 09:43:32 -0500
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20080421)

Just adding to David's already excellent response.  Caveat,
some harsh looks at the reality of that page follow.  If
you came looking for help, additional guidance is below.
But if you don't have a thick skin, the following may burn
akin to an early-round American Idol contestant learning
they can't sing as wonderfully as they imagine they do in
the shower.

> It looks as though the page uses a malformed URL in the
> meta refresh element.  The specification for meta refresh
> requires the use of absolute URLs

Additionally, that URL is absolutely hideous.  Both in terms
of the 251 characters in the resolved URL, and in the
content.  After I staunched the gushing flow from my
bleeding eyes...

> Note that the HTML specification strongly discourages the
> the use of refresh for simulating redirects, especially
> with a timeout of 0.  You should use a proper server
> redirect.  However, as noted above, Apple don't seem to be
> interested in producing good HTML.

The main problems with meta-redirects that I've encountered:
1) the back-button breaks (especially notable for timeouts
of 0)
2) if there's a form, and you're mid-way through filling out
the form, a meta-redirect will clear out the form.
3) it's only a suggestion (Lynx gives nice control over it,
as does FireFox with the RefreshBlocker extension) when it
could be done the right way via a 3xx redirect response.

> When I do manage to load the real page in Lynx, I notice
> that most of the alt text for your images is the rather
> long URL to the image.

There's a phantom Mac logo that, in FireFox appears in the
middle of the beach image.  It proclaims "made on a mac"
which isn't exactly a resounding endorsement for Macs.

> I also noticed, in Firefox, that there are rather poor
> colour contrasts, particularly involving green.

agreed.  Additionally, pick a color/font and don't diverge
much from it.  The page has a headacheingly large number of
font changes:

-blue with drop shadow
-blue with light-blue drop shadow
-blue with red underline
-green with drop shadow
-green with underline
-grey with underline
-light-blue with red underline
-light-blue with underline
-multi-colored "fall foliage" (it's cute if you're in 4th grade)
-red bold with blue drop shadow and blue underline
-red with red drop shadow
-red with underline
-white font with drop shadow
-white font with drop shadow and underline

with a mix of bold-face and font-size-changes thrown in

Good design generally suggests keeping font changes to a
minimum:  Usually a title font, a text font, a
"highlighting" font (such as a bold-faced version of your
text font), and for web pages, the hyperlink font.  That's
four.  Size changes should only be done topically (such as
heading-levels, or legal-disclaimer text), not willy-nilly.

> You have violated basic graphical web browser user
> interface conventions by using underlined blue text for
> things which are not links.
> Using "Click here" for every link makes it difficult for
> assistive technology users, who will often request a list
> of links, to avoid having to trawl through the whole page
> with a screen reader.

Additionally, almost all the textual content is done by
images with links being image maps.  The

> The big picture to the left and above the main title looks
> like abstract art.  Firefox says it has no alternative
> text (it probably detected that it matched the URL) so I
> can get no clue that way, either.

Since the whole page seems to be composed of random images
(to see the difference, use the Web Developer extension to
FireFox and use the "Images -> Hide Images" command.  The
remaining textual content will startle you with its paucity.

> finds 30 errors with the homepage proper.
> The page claims to use XHTML, but some of these errors
> would cause a real XHMTL browser to abort the page (they
> are well-formedness violation).

Looking at the source HTML (an unpleasant experience to say
the least), there are at least three <body> elements, the
first two of which are empty.  The site also uses JavaScript
which lynx doesn't support.  It may be for functionality, or
it may be for just decorative, but it's something to check.

In addition to the above council, I'd recommend making the
page considerably shorter, and breaking it into at least
three pages
  - one short page for the main page with summary info
  - one for the NJ details
  - one for the VT details

Please, please, please seek professional help -- whether a
web-design & development or graphic-arts class at the local
college, or pay a professional to redo the page & content
for you.  Even a primer on HTML/CSS and developing with a
text-editor instead of a GUI editor will help you build a
far better page (from scratch) that will serve you
considerably better.  Your site is currently negative
advertising, doing you a disservice as I certainly wouldn't
want to vacation in a place where this is considered

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