I believe in following web usability guidelines and design if the website is intended for majority (90% or more) of visitors. Jakob Nielsen is obviously the person you think of when the topic of usability arises. I agree with most of his points here.
Designers of news websites really need to read Jakob Nielsen’s books and columns before the official launch. There is no point in showing a silly animation if it blocks the hyperlinks to the main news items.
I am awarding the very first Retarded Website Award to Deccan Chronicle’s website http://www.deccan.com. Deccan Chronicle is supposedly the largest selling English newspaper in Hyderabad, India (for lack of alternatives). I’m going to focus only on the usability aspect, to stay on track.
Visit that site and chances are you get to see a gaudy Flash animation that takes up the whole top half of the screen. In the process, it prevents you from clicking on the hyperlinks in the main news section. Look at this screenshot.
Apparently, users are expected to watch the “beautiful and artistic” Flash advertisement of the Cricket World Cup. The ad still mentions the Pakistan and West Indies match (Pakistan got booted out weeks back). deccan.com needs to get a new Flash programmer or even better get a new web designer.
deccan.com used to be IE-only until a few years ago. Then they discovered that there were other browsers too, and made their web pages Firefox-friendly. Was it really so hard to hire someone in the outsourcing capital of India to type a few lines of cross-browser code?
I am not a fan of Deccan Chronicle – their news articles suck and are probably written by journalists who hardly know the basics of English grammar. I visit that site once in a while just to catch up with the latest news in Hyderabad, and then find that I can’t go anywhere… because of the gaudy Flash ad which is more annoying than a regular popup. Excellent way to welcome visitors to your website, Deccan Chronicle. The first Retarded Website Award goes to you!
Update: Someone from Deccan Chronicle might want to read Jakob Nielsen’s The Most Hated Advertising Techniques.