Monday, February 28, 2011

The Greatest Website Features Other People Will Never See

It has always been the case in the web industry that some people know just enough to be dangerous. When I first got into website development, it was moving gif images and frames, not to mention flashing text. People would find this cool thing that they could do and overload their websites with it. Later, it was music in the background. Today it is more subtle, but we still have people putting the latest and greatest stuff out there without consideration of what it does to people who are trying to use their sites.

These days, computer security is a big deal, so firewalls are a way of life. Companies want their employees to have access to websites for the information they provide, but they use firewalls to protect their networks. You may be using a firewall on your home computer. These firewalls can wreak havoc on blogs that use features other than the most basic of features. Steve Laube’s blog appears to be simple, but there is something about it that prevents me from leaving comments. I can’t see anything related to the form that makes me think it should cause problems, but it does have significant amounts of JavaScript that could be causing the problem.

I have similar problems with Michael Hyatt’s blog. His blog is loaded with scripts. It’s no wonder it doesn’t play well with firewalls.

The one the takes the cake is Brandon Cox’s blog. I removed his blog from the feed reader because every time an RSS item showed up from his blog it would cause Internet Explorer to hang up if I tried looking at the RSS feed from behind a firewall. Brandon considers himself a web designer, so you can imagine the kind of stuff he sticks on his blog.

If you want to play well with firewalls, stay away from client-side scripts as much as possible. That’s a good idea anyway, since client-side scripts cause a website to load more slowly. You can do anything you want on the server-side. I realize that will keep your website from having the cool features that make it look like it is functioning like a regular program on your computer, but if a firewall blocks that stuff it isn’t going to work anyway. If you limit what you send to the client to HTML and CSS, there won’t be anything for the firewalls to mess up.

Have you run into similar problems with fancy blogs?