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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Like browser toolbars but even more obnoxious

Remember the bad old days when every two-bit company decided you really needed to have their browser toolbar installed? I've seen screenshots where someone had more pixels devoted to stupid toolbars than the actual rendering area!

Well, those bad old days didn't really leave. They just changed form.

Horrible Lowe's site

I don't even remember what brought me to this web site at such an early hour, but once I landed there, I knew it was a disaster. Let's just measure this mess vertically to quantify how screwed up it is.

The image itself is 940 pixels wide and 640 pixels tall - standard fare for my iPhone 4S flipped on its side. I don't remember why I was browsing that way. I just was, and they should handle that gracefully.

The top 40 pixels are given to iOS. They aren't available. From 41 to 150, it's nothing but their obnoxious bar trying to get me to install something when I just wanted to look for some info on their web site. I usually try to scroll past them since clicking the X is usually a disaster which ends up taking me somewhere else when I miss. This one didn't scroll out of the way.

Lines 151 to 238 are given over to yet another banner to remind you which web site you're on that still hasn't given you any content. It also has the usual mystery-meat navigation.

From 239 to 348, there's an unrequested search bar (I didn't ask to search for anything) which can't be closed. It's permanently in the way.

Then from 349 to 458, they want my zip code, and again, they won't get out of my way. I just wanted to browse around, and none of this stuff I have encountered so far is going to let me do that. As for my zip code? I'll tell you that if I have a reason to, and right now, I certainly do not.

Finally, at line 459, it starts rendering graphics and other stuff related to actual home improvement products -- you know, the stuff I was probably looking for in the first place?

Of course, that fizzles out all too quickly, since line 575 is a border, and the rest from there down to 639 is owned by the OS and off-limits for the web site.

So let's review. My display is 640 pixels tall. The top 40 and bottom 65 are used by the OS, so knock out 105, and now there are 535 rows for the web site to use. Of those rows, only 21% of them are given over to the stuff I actually expected to see. Everything else is something which is just in my way.

I should note that only that little spot at the bottom is actually scrollable. Trying to scroll the rest of the page is an exercise in futility since all of those bars aren't going anywhere.

What was I looking for on that site? I can't even remember now. One thing's obvious, though: I never found it. When confronted with this, I go somewhere else.

Why are these worse than the days of browser bar wars? That's easy. You can remove those addins from your browser one way or another. A site like this, however, is not negotiable. You take it that way or you leave it. It's not like you can say "disable style sheet" on Mobile Safari, after all.

Maybe it's a bad design. Maybe I'm just cranky. Maybe it's both.