IN EPISODE 63 of Triangulation, Leo Laporte, a gracious and knowledgeable podcaster/broadcaster straight outta Petaluma, CA, interviews Your Humble Narrator about web standards history, responsive web design, content first, the state of standards in a multi-device world, and why communists sometimes make lousy band managers.
BECAUSE FACEBOOK LIMITS USERS to 5,000 contacts, I had to migrate from a conventional user account to what used to be called a “fan” page and is now called an “Artist, Band or Public Figure” page. (Page, not account, notice.)
There’s a page on Facebook called “Create a Page” that is supposed to seamlessly migrate from a conventional user account to a public figure (aka “fan”) page.
The page says it will only migrate your connections—it will lose all your content, photos, apps, and so on—and Facebook means it. After migrating, all my stuff is gone. Years of photos, wall posts, blog posts, tweets, you name it. Even the “help” page link is gone once you’ve migrated, so you can’t refer to any help documentation to find out where all your stuff went and if any of it can be saved.
Custom URL breaks on migration
Because of an idiocy in the database, you can’t keep your existing custom URL, since, when you request it, Facebook tells you it is “taken.” My Facebook page was “jzeldman,” but that URL is “taken” by a fellow named “Jeffrey Zeldman,” so I can’t use it on my Jeffrey Zeldman page. So I had to change to a new URL (“JeffreyZeldman”) and now all my admin links (for instance at facebook.com/happycog) are broken, as they point to the old user page instead of the new fan page. At the very least, Facebook should seamlessly redirect from facebook.com/jzeldman (my old URL) to facebook.com/JeffreyZeldman (the new one), but it does not.
So all my other social media sites that point to the old Facebook account need to be updated by hand, and any third-party links will now be broken because Facebook doesn’t let you keep your custom URL during a migration.
Third-party apps disappear completely
Likewise, none of the third-party functionality (Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, RSS, and so on) has migrated from the user page to the fan page, and there is no information explaining how to reconnect these apps.
No reasonable app like the ones I’ve mentioned appears in the “apps” section of the sidebar on my new page. When I look for additional apps, I get treated to a bloated browse of crappy apps nobody on earth uses, whose creators probably made deals with Facebook in hopes that newbies would be persuaded to hook up these contraptions. You can find “PhotoMyButt” but not Flickr.
I, however, use Flickr.
So, since I can’t find it in the big dull browse, I resort to Facebook’s Apps’ “Search” box. Typing Flickr in that box is exciting. Instead of being taken to the Flickr apps on Facebook, I’m treated to endless redirects courtesy of a broken PHP script that loops infinitely forever suffering like Christ on the cross world without end amen while never actually resolving. Each new partial page that loads for an instant before being replaced by the next is undesigned and unbranded and contains only the sentence fragment, “Please stand by, redirecting…”
The devil will see you now.
So much for content
My photos are gone. My existing writing is gone. Facebook does seem to be migrating human beings who were “friends” on my old page, but nothing else works.
Oh my God, I can’t Admin my own page
I can’t Admin my new Facebook page because the “Admin” is “jzeldman” (me at the old account, which Facebook deleted). Perhaps this is why it’s impossible to post content, no apps work, etc. Nice.
Kids, don’t try this at home
All these bugs are probably known to Facebook, and there are probably nice people at Facebook whose job is to execute known secret internal workarounds when helping an actual “celebrity” migrate his or her page. I’m just guessing of course, but it stands to reason that Ashton K or Lady Gaga, if they want a Facebook page, probably don’t have to deal with all this frustrating brokenness. They have people for that.
But I don’t. I’m a web guy. And web stuff should just work.
Our visually and behaviorally rich sites are about to lose precious Google juice, WebSiteOptimization.com reports in a new piece titled Page Speed Factored into Google Search Rankings:
Google’s addition of a page speed signal to its search rankings algorithm officially links performance with search engine marketing. The loading speed of a web page affects user psychology in a number of ways, and now it can effect its rankings as well.
This back-to-basics message catches us at a funny time in web design history.
“Make more of less” has long been the norm
As the web audience grew, heavily trafficked sites became even more restrictive in their decorative flourishes, whether they cared about web standards or not. Thus Google, while happily using bad CSS and markup, exerted monk-like discipline over its designers. Not only were images out, even such details as rounded corners were out, because the tiny images needed to facilitate rounded corners prior to CSS3 added a tenth of a kilobyte to page weight, and a tenth of a kilobyte multiplied by a billion users was too much.
Of late, we have grown fat
Yet in the past few years, as wideband became the norm, every mainstream site and its brother started acting as if bandwidth didn’t matter. Why use 1K of web form when you could use 100K of inline pseudo-Ajax? Why load a new page when you could load a lightbox instead?
Instead of medium-quality JPEGs with their unimportant details painstakingly blurred to shave KB, we started sticking high-quality PNG images on our sites.
As these bandwidth-luxuriant (and not always beautiful, needed, or useful) practices became commonplace on mainstream sites, many advanced, standards-focused web designers were experimenting with web fonts, CSS3 multiple backgrounds, full-page background images, and other devices to create semantic, structurally lean sites that were as rich (and heavy) as Flash sites.
So now we face a dilemma. As we continue to seduce viewers via large, multiple background images, image replacement, web fonts or sIFR, and so on, we may find our beautiful sites losing page rank.
Read the report and watch this space.
In 2010, you are whatever the Net says you are. Deal with it. Let’s assume that you want to deal with it; that is, you care about the picture the Net paints of you. I think that most of us should care, and I can think of three approaches to influencing the Net’s view: Branding, Offending, and Spelling. The first probably won’t work and the second stinks, so that leaves Spelling; more precisely, spell-checking and what it stands for.
Read the entire (short) Tim Bray Essay: After Branding.
Joshua Schachter explains how URL shorteners like TinyURL, bit.ly, etc., originally created to prevent long URLs from breaking in 1990s e-mail clients, and now used primarily as a means of monetizing someone else’s content, are bad:
- They “add another layer of indirection to an already creaky system, [making what] used to be transparent … opaque,” slowing down web use by adding needless lookups, and potentially disguising spam.
- Shorteners “steal search juice” from the original publishers. (For example, with the Digg bar and Digg short URL, your content makes Digg more valuable and your site less valuable; the more content you create, the richer you make Digg.)
- “A new and potentially unreliable middleman now sits between the link and its destination. And the long-term archivability of the hyperlink now depends on the health of a third party.”
And more. Via Merlin Mann.
Anyone who creates web content should read Joshua’s post. I’m sold and will dial way back on my use of the zeldman.com short URL. The question remains, what to do when you need to paste a long, cumbersome link into a 140-character service like Twitter. (If you do nothing, Twitter itself will shorten the link via TinyURL.)
[tags]URL, URLshortener, JoshuaSchachter, redirect, abstraction, Digg, findability, searchjuice, SEO[/tags]
In Issue No. 255 of A List Apart, for people who make websites:
- Findability, Orphan of the Web Design Industry – Aarron Walter, author of Building Findable Websites: Web Standards, SEO, and Beyond (New Riders, 2008), provides an overview of this essential web discipline, explains how it is like SEO but different, and tells how every member of your team can contribute to your site’s content’s findability. (See Aarron speak about findability and web standards live and in person at An Event Apart New Orleans, April 24–25, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.)
- Sign Up Forms Must Die – Luke Wroblewski, Senior Principal of Product Ideation and Design at Yahoo! and author of Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks (Rosenfeld Media, 2008), calls for the abolition of sign-up forms where web services are concerned. Via “gradual engagement,” says Luke, we can get people using and caring about our web services instead of frustrating them with forms. (Get more Luke live and in person at An Event Apart Boston, June 23–24, 2008 at the Boston Marriott Copley Plaza.)
As a glance at the masthead suggests, thought-provoking content about web form design and findability isn’t all that’s happening in this issue of A List Apart:
- Deeply gifted and seriously experienced web design magazine editor Carolyn Wood finally joins the ALA staff as acquisitions editor, taking that post from …
- … the witty and excellent Krista Stevens, who now becomes editor of the magazine.
- For his profound contributions to branding and usability, art director Jason Santa Maria becomes creative director.
- And after eight years at the magazine, Erin Kissane steps down as editor (but will stay with us as contributing editor). The improvements Erin has made to the magazine in her years with us cannot be counted, not even by the angels.