Browser Wank InitiativeMan, is this day turning out crappy or what? I figured as long as I have to sit here NOT at the Dahl Open House, I might as well answer some of the e-mail I’ve received at the site. So fifteen minutes later I pointed my browser to Waterstone’s to verify some information for a kid. (If you’re not from the UK, Waterstone’s is a big chain bookstore like Barnes & Noble.) And what greeted me on their home page? A big honkin’ orange screen informing me that my browser wasn’t good enough to see their crappy site. (I should pause here to remind everyone that I use an iMac at home, and currently my favorite browser is OmniWeb, which is free, small, and fast. It doesn’t do all the fancy-schmancy stuff, but IE for Mac OSX is slow as a three-legged dog.) So annnnyway, some hotshot wank designer managed to convince the Waterstone’s people that forcing punters to download and install a new browser is a good way to foster customer relations. They were wrong. I fired off a flaming e-mail that’d curl your hair, being sure to mention that not only were they not receiving my business, but I would never recommend them to any of the 15000+ visitors I receive at my Dahl site each day. (A slight exaggeration, but it was necessary for effect.) Bastards.

I’ve come across these “Web Standards” people before and I thought they were nuts. Zeldman and co. envision themselves as some kind of benevolent internet gods, (con)descending from the mountain to inform the brainless masses of their browser inadequacies. Why can’t they just leave it alone? I’m a web developer and I have no problem making my sites backwards-compatible. And in the few cases where a client has demanded something that would break in one browser, we didn’t ban users of that browser from visiting the site. That’s just ludicrous. That’s fine for a personal site, but businesses like Waterstone’s are going to find out that people don’t like being told what to do. I mean, hasn’t every usability expert for the last five years been saying to get rid of those “Resize your browser to 1470×376 to fully enjoy this site” messages? You know why? Because nobody ever does it! I cannot fathom why a retail company would agree to such a proposal. I can only conclude that the owners weren’t computer-savvy enough to smell the BS their wank web designer was shoveling at them.

Rant off. I need a beer.

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