Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Rogue's Gallery of the Web

James F. Carter, 2007-10-06

The purpose of this page is to document the statement that virtually no professional web designer follows the accompanying web design guidelines. I have picked five each of the home pages of world-class American mathematics departments (our direct peer group), global academic institutions, major (and not-so-major) corporations, and the sites winning the Webby awards for best practices in web design in the last five years. The latter should be an authoritative representation of how professional web designers think web design ought to be done.

Actually, a few sites do follow the guidelines, but the vast majority do not. At the end of the table is a count of conforming sites.

To save disc space and bandwidth, screen shots are compressed as JPEG at quality 30, giving slight compression artifacts and 2.3% (44:1) compression on these easily compressed images.

The big screenshots are taken with a window size of 1450x1020px (almost full screen on a Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop) and the body font set to 28pt, which is 50px on this display. This is how a visually impaired person could make the page more readable. The tiny ones are in a 320x400px window (payload area 320x320px) and the body font is set to 5pt or 9px. This simulates a Palm Treo 650 mobile device. The screenshots are all presented at their intrinsic size (violating our own guidelines which state that they should be magnified or shrunk to fit the client's screen), so the standardly abled client with a standard display can get an idea of what other populations would be seeing.

The screenshots and HTML validation were done on 2007-10-06. Sites do improve with time, and if you follow the links to the pages you may find that more of them have valid HTML, or have user-friendly fonts and layout.

Site Validity Fonts Layout Screenshots
Mathematics Departments
UCLA Mathematics Department (Demo Page) Valid HTML-4.01 100% scalable fonts (except logo) Scalable layout Big Tiny
UCLA Mathematics Department Invalid UTF-8, no doctype, 108 errors as HTML-4.01 Body font scalable (but strange interaction with line-spacing) Fixed layout Big Tiny
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (New York University) 91 errors as XHTML-1.0 Fixed fonts Fixed layout Big Tiny
Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (UC Berkeley) Valid HTML Fixed fonts Fixed layout Big Tiny
MIT Mathematics Department No doctype, 5 errors as HTML-4.01 Fixed (and very small) fonts Fixed layout Big Tiny
Princeton Mathematics Department Charset mismatch, 10 errors as HTML-4.01 frameset Scaled fonts Fixed layout Big Tiny
Universities and Colleges
Cambridge University Valid XHTML-1.0 Strict (!) Fonts scale (except logo) Fixed layout Big Tiny
Harvard University No doctype, 53 errors as HTML-4.01 Many but not all fonts scale Fixed layout Big Tiny
Stanford University Valid XHTML-1.0 Strict (!) Fonts scale (except logo) Fixed layout Big Tiny
University of California at Berkeley 9 errors as HTML-4.01 Most fonts scale, except in pictures of text Fixed layout Big Tiny
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) 20 errors as HTML-4.01 About half the fonts scaled Fixed layout Big Tiny
Corporate Home Pages
Bank of America 77 errors as HTML-4.01 All fonts scale including advertising animation (except B/A logo) Fixed layout Big Tiny
Cable News Network 124 errors as HTML-4.01 Fixed fonts Fixed layout, probably 1024x768px Big Tiny
Fidelity Investments No doctype, 86 errors as HTML-4.01 Fixed fonts (small enough to fit on tiny screen) Fixed layout Big Tiny
iRiver.com Invalid UTF-8, no doctype, 52 errors as HTML-4.01 Fixed fonts Mixture of fixed and scalable layout Big Tiny
Toyota Motor Sales, USA No doctype, 102 errors as HTML-4.01 Fixed fonts Fixed layout Big Tiny
Webby Best Practices
2007: Flickr 28 errors as HTML-4.01 Strict Fixed fonts Fixed layout at 1280x1024 Big Tiny
2006 (People's Voice): Google Maps 198 errors as XHTML-1.0 Strict All scalable fonts (except logo) Scalable layout Big Tiny
Doesn't quite squeeze into the tiny screen, but deserves a big cheer for a good try.
2005: Google (main site) No doctype, 30 errors as HTML-4.01 Many but not all fonts scale Scalable layout Big Tiny
2004: BBC News (Nominee) 96 errors as HTML-4.0 Some fonts scale but body text is fixed and small Fixed layout Big Tiny
2003: Movable Type 10 errors as XHTML-1.0 Fixed fonts Mix of fixed and scalable layout Big Tiny
Summary
4 valid, 13 had doctype, 7 without 8 scalable fonts, mixture of scaled and fixed in 4 pages 3 scalable layouts, 2 mixed scaled and fixed