Bad User Interface Still Kills
A while ago I posted an article about the bad usability of BadDesignKills.com. Today, I found Jeffrey Zeldman's posting about the Reboot Award, which makes a similar mistake: He recommends flashy sites that have horrible usability. Want proof?
itomi.it - A prime example of mystery meat navigation. You wave your mouse over the page to get anything useful displayed, and the things that are actually being displayed on the page when you enter tell you nothing about where to find the navigation. Worse, it tells you to use the scroll wheel of your mouse to scroll the page ... ummm... *stares confusedly at Apple USB mouse* :-/ And those instructions are printed horribly on top of other graphics.
Seriph.com is a lot better, If you don't mind tiny text that can't be enlarged, being unable to bookmark cool pages and if you can stand the background music (but IMHO, that's a browser problem - Safari doesn't mute a page's sound when you switch out its tab, and it has no explicit "mute" button, you have to turn off system sound for that).
vbrunettistudios.com has the same problem (but worse) with its crickets, which get just as annoying as the ones at openairkinos.de. The vertical nav links are a little awkward (especially as they're just 180 degrees wrong than they would be in a newspaper), but are actually a cool touch and not really a problem. The page headings are way too small, the page transitions take too long for repeat visits. It also has a dangerous mouse-over business card on the contact page, which covers up the contact fields and is not quite intuitive to get rid of. Still, all-in-all a fairly usable page, and it looks gorgeous. Of course, like Seriph.com, it's also Flash, and thus doesn't make use of bigger or smaller screen space and you can't bookmark.
oscarasmoarp.com has the typical Flash problems as well, plus too small typefaces. But to keep things interesting it recommends a screen resolution of 1152 x 864, but has navigation less than 8 pixels in size. That really makes things fiddly. When it comes to testing your site, remember to Take away the designers' large screens! and give them a half-broken mouse.
stolen.la is pretty good. The person names for the sections are kind of a hindrance to fast navigation, but at least are easy to memorize for repeat visitors (and have explanations behind them in brackets). The "pull it, you know you want to" animation should end after a while, though. It gets really distracting on endless repeat.
Ultragrand.com's only fault is that when you click "proceed", you end up with a completely empty page that only has the navigation. It'd be nice if that whitespace got you some frequently visited page (like news, for instance?), but I can live with it.
*sighs* we have a long way to go until the average site is at least a little usable. And yeah, I'll start with my site. One of my plans is fixing the blog navigation so you don't have that huge list down the left. We'll see how long it'll take me to get around to that one.