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Web design critic pulls no punches: Some sites 'suck'

homepage February 7, 1997
Web posted at: 6:20 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Brian Nelson

(CNN) -- World Wide Web designers beware. The hyperactive critic of hypertext may be watching. And if he doesn't like what he sees, he just may post your home page as an example of "Web Pages That Suck."

Welcome to the world of Vincent Flanders, a Web-savvy curmudgeon who created to encourage better Web sites -- ones not filled with useless sound files, extensive graphics and basically anything that can turn downloading into snoozeloading.

His mantra: "Learn good design by looking at bad design."

In doing so, Flanders lets it all hang out. He pans sites like a meticulous movie critic, taking users through a step-by-step explanation of why sites "suck." He also invites users to recommend their favorite poorly designed sites.


The mayor of Portland, Oregon, gets a thumbs down for an unfinished site. So does The Art Center College of Design -- for not knowing good Web design. Pseudo-stock tickers are another no-no.

Flanders even found a spelling error on a Microsoft page. "This is just to show people that even the big boys make mistakes," he said.

Flanders said the best way to avoid being dubbed a sucky Web site is to keep in mind his golden rule: restraint. "The Web is about slow bandwidth, slow servers, bad connections, lots of traffic," he said.

For example, avoid posting a picture that takes up more than 50 kilobytes of space unless it's really dramatic, he said, because it will take too long to download. He also doesn't recommend very many sound bites: "Nobody wants to hear a sound file unless it's O.J. confessing."

And while Flanders is a ruthless critic of the Web, he also notes numerous sites for their quality designs. But, most likely, if you make his page, it's because your site sucks.


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