Two Web Naughties I Secretly Love


No, I’m not talking about pr0n, but web design habits that fly in the face of accessibility, good design or just plain old common sense. I have a secret love for quite a few of these ‘naughties’ and while I probably won’t ever use/go back to them myself, I smile a secret smile when I see someone else that does.

Here are two of my absolute bestest favourites:

1. Justified Text

Oh, it’s so pretty. It lines up in my columns and allows me to visual a strict angular structure even when there are no lines to guide my eye. It is neat, tidy.. regimented even, with almost military precision. If only it didn’t stretch sentences to the bejeezus, we’d all be allowed to glorify our web pages with it.

2. Monospace Fonts

Letters that fill a specific space, taking up no more or less room than any other; the constant reminder of code and all things geeky. Monospace fonts — or rather, Courier New at 11px if you want me to be precise — that is what all good web pages are made of (inside).

What are your web ‘naughties’? Got a particular favourite?

Posted in Interwebs

41 comments so far

  1. Meli said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    I wouldn’t say naughties for this one, but it’s something I would probably never use for a site ever again. I have a weakness for layouts with brushy, blend-y headers, but only if they look good. I’m trying to find an example. It’s not naughty, but most of the time it’s not used right, so it sucks.

  2. Hanna said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    There’s something so beautiful in monospace fonts. I’m very tempted to start using them again. Even my os has Courier New 10 set as default font. :D Oh and of course the evil one, white on black (but that’s no secret).

  3. Jordan said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    I still can’t believe that I’ve allowed myself to use left aligned text. I used to justify the shit out of my text for some odd reason namely for the same reasons you mentioned. I think I just got rid of them when I read more and more articles/websites that I admired opposing such. As for my own personal web naughties, I don’t really think I have any. I’m pretty boring, and anything that’s too fancy, crazy, or ugly I can’t stand. My web tastes have since changed. Though there was a time where I loved frames :3 But you know, I don’t anymore…:P

  4. Kaylee said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Small, uncontrasted text. It looks so pretty… I like “proper” blendy headers, too, with sparkles. Justified text is also nice. As for Monospace, it can look good in small amounts, depending on the design.

  5. Jordan said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    And lovely new layout! :P Looks like I caught you right in the middle of one; The header image was there, but nothing else was. You have a knack for putting together really simply, yet visually appealing designs (and color schemes.) I think the one I liked the most was a few months back (perhaps last year). It was dark, with neon bubbles for a background..

  6. Aisling said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Umm… I rather enjoy celebrity blends. :P Obviously, I dislike copyright infringement, but blending the images together is FUN, especially when they’re really nice ones.

  7. Grant said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    i like the new icons btw, My web naughties are, using tutorial for php coding i cant seem to learn php and develop my own stuff so i use allot of tutorials and well adapt them and chop and change them.

  8. Grant said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    To the attention of jem Also Jem after so long of doing these posts will you tell us if your stats have went up because it seems to me that less people are commenting on your more tech savvy posts, maybe they feel like they cant do why bother maybe your posting so often they don’t get a chance to catch up. ;)

  9. Rachael said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    My web naughty I secretly love is… 250% line-height.

  10. Carly said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Iframes. No I’m kidding. I sometimes wish tables were legal.

  11. Hannah said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    I love justified text :3

  12. Dee said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    I don’t get what the problem is with justified text. It looks -good-. It’s been used in print publications for hundreds of years. I -like- big spaces in between my words. When the ends of lines don’t line up I get antsy. I’m yet to hear one convincing argument why it’s ‘bad’ that doesn’t essentially boil down to memetic me-tooism. Web browsers don’t hyphenate? So -what-? Most justified-text using print publications don’t either. I’m not kidding; go pick up a paperback and check for yourself.

  13. Jem said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    @Dee: I think the point is that when you’re reading a newspaper, the columns are tiny and therefore even with large gaps you’re not scanning your eyes over huge spaces. On the other hand, with the ever increasing size of our screens any badly justified web pages with huge gaps between words become harder and harder to read. According to the RNIB it’s also more difficult for those with bad eyesight and conditions like dyslexia to read justified text. Having neither I couldn’t possibly say…

  14. Lene said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I love justified text too, I used to have it on my layouts until… my last layout change? Not that I took it off because of the stretchiness, but because I forgot to write text-align: justify; XD I can’t say the same for monospaced text, haha. I do like it when it comes to code, or anything else that requires precise structuring (I have a poem in my site that depends on monospace, heh). Doesn’t look so pretty for average-page use though. I laughed when you called them naughties :D

  15. Casey said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    lol, naughty lovers.

  16. Bobbi-lee said:
    On November 7, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Because I work in Graphic Design, I love justified text. It always makes everything look neat and doesn’t stretch the word itself, but rather the spaces between, but if there is enough text there it usually won;t stretch too much. I actually do like seeing justified text occasionally (read:if done right) on a website. I guess my other naughty would be big graphics. Even though they are slow to load, and take up half the page I still marvel at them, such as the ones on design sites.

  17. Dee said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 12:36 am

    @Jem But… that doesn’t work. Because (again) most books are formatted as justified, too. I mean, you’d have to go out and do a count-survey, but the average number of words per line in a book is probably not much different to the average number of words per line on a (decently formatted) web page…

  18. Vasili said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 12:51 am

    Did you look at the code yet? :o

  19. Veronica said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 1:35 am

    I secretly envy people who use celebrity layouts. I just love the way the blends look. I wish tables were accessible. PS. I’m still using justified text. I cant break myself of it. I hate the way left align looks.

  20. Mackenzie said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 2:11 am

    I love those silly flash layouts that take ages to load and are like 1/32nd content, 31/32nds layout (: P.S. Totally unrelated but:

  21. Hev said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 3:53 am

    I love it, Jem. Nice & simple yet complex looking enough to keep a person’s interest. I also agree with your two web naughties. I just love this design, Jem.

  22. Stephanie said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 4:07 am

    as two other people mentioned, tables. i wish they were legal and right and okay to use in the world of webdesign, because they’re so boxy and everything fits where they should and it’s so hard to break them. Divs are like sticky notes that you put on the wall, and it’s so damn hard to make them line up and not curl at the edges and do funky shit. Tables are like legos. Dependable and reliable. Oh, the days of being able to pull the naivete excuse :)

  23. Britney said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 5:17 am

    I still use justified text on my site. I like it.

  24. Jordan said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 6:58 am

    @ Dee: The issue with justified text on a computer, is that it’s an entirely different source of light. It’s NOT the same as a newspaper, magazine, or book. Those are different sources of light. They reflect. Having justified text on screen causes the eyes to notice patterns in the text, and can sometimes confuse a reader or even distract them. Keeping the text left aligned (for those of us that read languages that go left/right) also helps our eyes to scan the words better. Your website is a bit of a perfect example. You have a larger line height with justified text. It isn’t easy on the eyes to read that. If you lessened the line height and remove the justification, it would definitely be more readable for a user.

  25. Mumblies said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 7:24 am

    Can’t comment on the web stuff-It’s all whooooosh to me Jem as you know. Not so sure i like the red tho’ i preferred the old style over this one. Meh!

  26. Amber said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 8:14 am

    I justify my essays for school because it looks so much neater. Trouble is, it is so very hard to read with all the spontaneous gaps.

  27. Rilla said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 10:45 am

    I used to like having justified text until I noticed people were all dropping the trend. Hmm. But for me, I love spiffy unobtrusive JS effects as long as they don’t kill my browser.

  28. Brigitte said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Justified text all the way! I do it on my art site and probably every WP theme I give away XP it just looks so darn nice! How can something be wrong when it feels so right?

  29. Munin said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    I love tables. Love, love, love. I know I have to “grow up” and use divs for my designs, but blah. Using tables for me is like a fun puzzle.

  30. Sanne said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Justified text looks pretty. But for some reason it looks quite ugly in sidebars and much better in the text of weblogs. I use justified for my weblog too although I know a lot of people hate it, but I just can not understand why.

  31. Skye said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I always justify my text. Ive seen tons of people say it is evil, but when looking through their reasons it doesnt add up. Ive never had huge spaces (or non-normal spacing) between my words and never had a visitor complaint.

  32. Aisling said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    According to the RNIB it’s also more difficult for those with bad eyesight and conditions like dyslexia to read justified text. Having neither I couldn’t possibly say… I worked with the CNIB, which is the Canadian version of RNIB, and yeah, it is a lot more difficult to read justified text, even in a book. The thing with books is, that there are a lot of companies that create books for people with visual impairment. On the web, there isn’t anything like that, only the designer can decide what to put into their site. I’ve used magnified screens in the past, and it can be more difficult to locate justified text, when you have it on a high setting, which is needed. With the big gaps, it has you wondering “Is the sentence over?” Then you end up dragging the bloody thing to the end, which makes it harder to keep a steady pace, and therefore harder to follow what is being said. And this is with me, as a “sightling” as one of the guys I worked with called me, using it. Can you imagine someone who is actually visually impaired? Sorry, I had an eye disease when I was younger, which, had it not been fixed before I turned 5, may have caused me to become legally blind. Since I was able to learn more about it with the CNIB, it’s become more of an important subject for me.

  33. Jem said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    No need to apologise Aisling, it’s always interesting to read from the viewpoint of something with more experience on a particular topic. Thank you for your insight (no pun intended). I was actually thinking of this post again earlier. The latest copy of ‘designer’ magazine came in at work and none of the articles had justified text, it was all left-aligned. Makes me wonder if it was an aesthetic choice or whether they’re concious of the perceived difficulties the visually impaired cope with.

  34. Saya said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Using too many colors and having a way to large header with a anime image :D I actually really love image heavy layouts if done right! Justified text is really good for sidebars, otherwise they don’t look right. Ps. brilliant new layout.

  35. Renate said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Using images that aren’t legally mine in header graphics etc. Yes, I am still guilty of using them for icons. I am weak. Fab new layout, by the way. That ninja is really working it.

  36. Annie said:
    On November 8, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    I like when different colors are used for emphasized text :P Though I think it’s best when the same color is used for bold and italic (and whatever else, like underline or strike) rather than having a different color for each. Then it just looks ugly.

  37. Brigitte said:
    On November 9, 2007 at 11:57 am

    @ Aisling: I had never even though of this, there’s a really good reason to stay away from justified text after all, thank you :3

  38. Daz said:
    On November 12, 2007 at 10:25 am

    I’ve been re-working my site for a while now. It’s using justified Courier New :) Best combo evAr. (It’s not live yet, I need to re-add some drawing) I also like seeing Comic Sans used well on a site…

  39. Asrai said:
    On November 18, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    My web naughties are: (1)10px Arial justified text in a 400-600px width, white column. (2) copyright infringement on a collage of celeb images. hehe =p I’m still learning so hopefully I can polish up my designing skills for my next theme. Oh and yeah I’m an Animaholic. hehe ..I love reading your articles.

  40. Joanna said:
    On August 20, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I love the “center” tags. One word and everything obeys. Without them you have to use several different techniques to get each element centered. 1 image, several images or elements, text, data tables…
    I forget why “center” tags are “BAD, UGLY, EVIL, & THE DEVIL” now… I must have read it somewhere. ^_^;

  41. Cel said:
    On October 2, 2008 at 3:33 am

    (Lovely layout, by the way. I thought I’d hate all the rounded corners but I don’t, they look quite nice. ^^)

    To be honest, I’ve never really liked justified text, for no other reason then that it destroys the flow of reading. “And then…mind the gap…I saw a reindeer…space space space flying over a treetop,” and then I get lost. The neat corners are nice, but not worth it. I’ve made my peace with a ragged right side.

    I secretly adore all those gimmicky site add-ons like hitcounters and those little CBoxes (I think that’s what they were called) that you put on your site and people would type in little comments and chat through it. ^^ And I have to resist the temptation to put a useless bit of JavaScript in all my pages that tells you the exact time (TO THE SECOND). In my mind it’s the most brilliant thing ever. But that was before I first saw a lightbox.

    @Joanna: the very first HTML tag I ever learned was ‘center’. I vividly remember my first experience tinkering with code…and now here I am, turning my back on the tag that started it all. DD: