Web site look & feel

H. S. Teoh hsteoh at quickfur.ath.cx
Mon Nov 23 23:22:14 UTC 2020

On Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 07:47:31PM +0000, starcanopy via Digitalmars-d wrote:
> On Monday, 23 November 2020 at 09:53:29 UTC, ddcovery wrote:
> > [...]
> I don't see how Go's website looks anymore modern than D's. Further, Rust's
> landing page looks awful: the colors and layout make me nauseous.
> Typescript's just looks more angular. Etc. I'm not saying D's web
> presentation is perfect, but neither do I see any glaring flaws compared to
> the "competition." (If somebody wants to take the initiative and do a design
> overhaul, however, more power to them.)

TBH, I find Rust's website design awful.  It follows that horrible
modern trend of giving no helpful information on the landing page, and
instead filling 90% of the screen with the modern equivalent of giant
in-your-face banner ad, complete with oversized fonts and excessive
emphasis.  Just about every page features this horrible information
minimization, and it takes an excessive number of links before you get
to the *real* information.

Typescript's website is slightly better, even though it suffers from the
same in-your-face design philosophy, but at least the font sizes are not
as excessive as Rust's.  It still takes an excessive number of clicks to
get to the meat, though.

D's website isn't all that much better, unfortunately.  That
fast-fast-fast slogan honestly makes me cringe and want to throw up. It
also features "Support the D language" right in the bottom half of the
page: if I'm a newcomer, why would I even want to support D when you
haven't even told me why I should care.

TBH, all 3 websites suffer from the ridiculous modern trend of an
essentially contentless splash page that tries to sell me something I
haven't even understood yet.  The slogan-based design, e.g., Rust's "Why
rust? Performance, reliability, productivity", tell me *nothing* about
Rust beyond marketing buzzwords that I don't even read, because how do I
even know how reliable such statements are?  It reads just like a
marketing brochure that people hand me at a fair and that I promptly
chuck into the trash can without even reading.

Show me *actual Rust code*, and describe to me *specific Rust features*,
then I might be a bit more sympathetic.  Give me a list of features that
I can compare against other languages in order to evaluate whether Rust
offers me something other languages don't.

Overcoming my initial nausea, I click on "Get started", and I'm taken to
a page where again, 30% of the page is occupied by the title of the
page. What a useless waste of space!  Not to mention that horrible
red-and-purple color scheme.  The nausea returns.  There's not a single
line of Rust code anywhere that I can see. Just some obscure curl
command without an obvious description of just what it does.  Why would
I even want to install this when you haven't even shown me a single line
of Rust?  I'm not sold yet, and you're already asking for my wallet.

TypeScript's website doesn't fare much better.  But it does have a major
plus over Rust's website: it shows you *actual code*, along with an
error message that shows exactly what TypeScript's selling point is.
And there's a "try in your browser" link that straightaway lets me try
it out for myself (which would've been great, but my browser has JS
disabled for new sites by default, so that resulting empty page was not
exactly a positive impression).  But again, 30% of the front page is
filled with marketing spiel that I don't even bother to read.

D's website at least doesn't have nausea-inducingly huge fonts on the
front page, and there's also actual code to boot. A win over Rust's
website.  I can edit and run code *right on the front page*: another
plus.  Unfortunately, that "support the D language" section is just out
of place.  Support usually comes from people who have *already* been
sold on D, and such people usually already know the ins and outs of the
website, where to look for information on how to support the language,
etc.. Such information *does not need to be on the front page*.  It just
looks out-of-place to a newcomer.

D's website still suffers from the influence of that horrible splash
page design philosophy. That paragraph about "general-purpose
programming language with blah blah blah didn't bother to read" doesn't
accomplish very much IMNSHO.  And too much white space on the page.  I
can understand having adequate space so it doesn't look like a cluttered
newspaper ad page, but still. This amount of whitespace on a page, so
prevalent these days, is just ridiculous.

I'd much rather see, e.g., a list of features that make D stand out from
other languages, right on the front page. This goes for any language, in
fact. Then I can glance at it and know in 3-5 seconds what are the major
features of this language, which are hopefully also what differentiates
it from the crowd of other languages, without having to click on this or
that or the other (which involves mental effort to process: which of
those non-informatively named links will actually tell me what this
thing is about in the first place?! -- your average net surfers are
lazy, don't forget that).

Also, that "industry proven" section seems poorly placed: neither
prominently at the top or deal-sealing at the bottom, but an indecisive
middle.  I mean, why would I care who uses this language, if it doesn't
have the features I want?  And following this, the remainder of the page
just seems to be ad hoc, and rather disorganized. The order of the
sections don't seem to follow any obvious logical order.  First there's
a smattering of random links to news, community, forums, then that
horrible fast-fast-fast slogan with more elaborate explanations at the
very bottom (huh? shouldn't this be nearer to the top?).  Very strange.

The way these websites are designed, esp. Rust's, give me the impression
that they're designed for CEO's and other management types who want to
be wow'ed by how beautiful and in-your-face the website is, and based on
that decide that their employees should use this language from now on,
rather than the actual programmers who will be actually using the
language, who:

1) Already know they're looking at a *programming language*, not brand
name shampoo, and therefore are not scared of seeing actual code;

2) Already know at least one other programming language (we're not
trying to teach non-programmers how to program, after all), and
therefore have no reason to look further unless they see a feature that
their current language doesn't have, or a feature that might be superior
to their current language's features;

3) Are probably looking at your website because they're looking for a
better language than they currently have, and therefore want to know
right away what makes your language stand out from the hundreds of other
languages out there;

4) May be existing users of your language who are looking for
documentation or the latest release, or maybe they have a question they
want to ask somebody (in the forum, etc.), so the faster they can get to
this information, the better -- preferably 1 click away, and preferably
*without* having to scroll.  I think everyone here already knows that
very few people actually bother to read anything past what's shown in
the browser window upon landing on the page.

The big question behind all of this is: who's the target audience of the
website?  The people who will be using the language, people who are
already using the language, or management types who want to be wowed
with a flashy page that captivates their attention, or some generic,
non-descript, abstract audience that may or may not exist?

Hopefully not the last two.  And of the first two, IMO the first is more
important, because the second group is already sold on your product, so
they're naturally more inclined to put in more effort to find the
information they want.  And the primary question with the first is: (1)
what's this language about (what are the defining features), and (2) why
should I care (what features does it have that my current language
doesn't have / what makes it better than what I have now).


Disclaimer: What I look for in a website is likely very different from
what your average web surfer looks for.  I look for *information*, and
presentation is secondary; whereas most people are wowed by
presentation, then realize there might actually be information.  So
YMMV.  But also: if you only cater to the whims of a fickle average web
surfer, don't be surprised if they don't stay.  The kind of audience you
sell to is the kind of users you'll get.


Why waste time reinventing the wheel, when you could be reinventing the
engine? -- Damian Conway

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