Top 5 Web Design Debates That Cause the Most Riots

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Top 5 Web Design Debates That Cause the Most Riots

The world that surrounds the topic of Web Design is home to many debates and opinions on best practices or generally how things should and shouldn’t be done. While many of these opinions are accepted and taken on board by everyone, there are some that end up being split into two opposing camps. One camp […]


The world that surrounds the topic of Web Design is home to many debates and opinions on best practices or generally how things should and shouldn’t be done. While many of these opinions are accepted and taken on board by everyone, there are some that end up being split into two opposing camps. One camp will provide an expert opinion for one side of the argument, while the other contradicts with an equally valid argument. Let’s take a look at the five most popular debates; the ones that often end up developing into digital riots with opinions flying like arrows across the vast no-man’s land known as the comments section.

Should links open in a new window?

Camp one says:

Links to external sites should always open in new windows. There’s nothing more annoying than browsing a website, clicking a link and being whisked off to a totally new site, losing the page you wanted to revisit. Internal links should maintain the browser session in the current page, but anything that leaves the site should open in a new tab or window.

Camp two says:

As web designers we shouldn’t take the control away from the user. Whether a link needs opening in a new window is their choice. There’s nothing more annoying than a website taking control of my browser and opening a new tab or window for a link without my permission; if I wanted to open it in a new window, I’d do so! The problem only gets worse with inexperienced computer users, new windows break their trusty ‘back button’.

The mediator says:

In general, opening a new window should be avoided, but is recommended for some situations such as opening a help link in a shopping cart or opening a non-html document such as a PDF. To further aid the usability of your site, use a small icon to identify links that do open in a new window, or provide an options panel that’s configured with Javascript.

Further reading:

Should links use the words ‘Click here’?

Camp one says:

‘Click here’ has been proven to provide a higher click through ratio than descriptive anchor text. ‘Click here’ is a call to action people associate with the web, so it should be used on links to achieve the highest click through results.

Camp two says:

Using the words ‘Click here’ hinders the usability of a site. Instead of being able to see where the link goes and what it does, the user has to read the surrounding text to gain an idea of what’s going to happen. Quality guidelines suggest that anchor text should explain what a link offers.

The mediator says:

A descriptive link should always be used to help increase your site’s usability, accessibility and optimization for search engines. It is be interesting to hear that ‘Click here’ performs better on banner ads, but I’d imagine that bounce rates would also be in favour of descriptive links.

Further reading:

Should Bold <b> and Italic <i> tags be used?

Camp one says:

If your aim is to make a word bold, use the <b> tag. It’s not correct to use the <strong> tag if the word doesn’t have any extra value or importance. Screen readers pronounce the <b> and <i> tags differently, and they are also included in the HTML5 specification.

Camp two says:

Bold and italic tags are often used to make text appear bold or italic, so semantically anything that is being used for visual aesthetics should be reserved for the CSS stylesheet, and not included in the HTML markup. If an element has of specific importance or requires emphasis, the <strong> or <em> tags helps identify it with meaning.

The mediator says:

<b> and <b> tags shouldn’t be used to make text appear bold and italic for the sake of it being bold or italic, this visual styling should be left to the CSS. If a word or passage of text is of high importance, either the <strong> or <em> element would be the best use. The <b> and <i> can and should be used when no other tags fit the situation (eg: <cite>, <var>, <dfn>). An example might be text in another language.

Further reading:

Should a logo be enclosed in a <h1> element?

Camp one says:

Logos shouldn’t be wrapped in a header one, the <h1> element should include a description or title of that particular web page. This is the best approach for SEO, otherwise the primary header for every page would be the same – the company name.

Camp two says:

The main identifier of what website you’re on is the logo. With the <h1> being the largest level of headers, it’s natural to place the logo and site title inside a <h1>. This way, when the page is viewed without CSS, it still holds the same visual structure and hierarchy.

The mediator says:

The definitive use for a <h1> is to describe the subsequent content. Therefore if a particular website has a title or heading that describes the content and appears in the design, this should be placed in the <h1>, otherwise the next highest structural and descriptive item would be the logo.

Further reading:

A site should be viewable in IE6

Camp one says:

Internet Explorer 6 makes up 10% of the market share, so it’s crucial that a website is made to work in IE6, as well as newer browsers. There lots of major corporations who have large networks running IE6, as well as lots of computer users who don’t know how to upgrade.

Camp two says:

IE6 is considerably out of date and doesn’t support the technologies that are present in web design today. It’s poses a risk to the user’s online security and is the never ending nightmare for all designers. Large companies including YouTube are phasing out support, so should you!

The mediator says:

IE6 usage is definitely on the decline, and its death will be quicker with large websites dropping support. Whether you support IE6 depends on your own user statistics. Alternatively, consider offering more basic page styling to IE6 users rather than fixing complicated layout and CSS problems.

Further reading:
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