web developer's guide to AOL.
January 8, 2002 3:03 AM   Subscribe

web developer's guide to AOL. just in case you've ever wondered what their standards really are (well, yeah, neither have i, but...).
posted by patricking (18 comments total)
That's webmaster to you, buddy.
posted by crunchburger at 3:16 AM on January 8, 2002

i resisted their terminology on purpose. makes me feel all icky inside.
posted by patricking at 3:31 AM on January 8, 2002

Who can blame you? I haven't heard anyone call themselves a 'webmaster' in....oh, quite a while.
posted by crunchburger at 3:49 AM on January 8, 2002

Cool. You handle the dragon, I'll handle the web. Oh, I'll find that web... That's right. The web won't know which way they go... Don't mess with me. I'm the web master. I've mastered the web. I wish I had the web right here right now, I'd step all over it.
posted by lotsofno at 3:58 AM on January 8, 2002

What's really annoying is AOL's graphic compression that REALLY screws up web pages. There is a way around it... make the gif animated.
posted by geoff. at 4:55 AM on January 8, 2002

Their preach:

"In general, more than ever, the rule of thumb is 'keep it simple!' Use minimal and easily digested content on a given page. Keep the focus of a page clear and easy to navigate."

...and their practice.
posted by jennyb at 5:58 AM on January 8, 2002

Doubtless they hired an outside web developer to 'webmaster' that site for them.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:45 AM on January 8, 2002

jennyb, that's not a web page; it's a client. Your comment is like saying that Adobe Photoshop is a difficult web page to navigate.
posted by uftheory at 6:46 AM on January 8, 2002

There's another way around the AOL image compression: make it over 8MB.
posted by panopticon at 6:50 AM on January 8, 2002

uftheory: Okay.
posted by jennyb at 7:24 AM on January 8, 2002

This is actually really useful information -- I've only looked at the FAQ, so far, but several of these items (the image recompression, the cacheing server causing dns failure or delayed page updates, etc) have caused varying degrees of heart failure among my customers... if I'd had this FAQ to point to at the time, my "blame it on AOL" response would've carried a lot more weight.
posted by ook at 7:50 AM on January 8, 2002

I agree with ook. Thanks for the reference. Now I can give even more specific reasons why I won't coddle AOL "standards."
posted by Tubes at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2002

uftheory: perhaps your comment is flamebait, in which case i ought to just ignore it, but you've impugned a comment that was both funny and astute; so i'll bite.

aol is a service provider with an avowed focus on ease of use ('so easy to use; no wonder it's number one') and a marketing strategy that targets consumers unfamiliar with computers and the internet. if anything on your computer needs be navigable, aol's welcome screen is it.

and you can't say that jennyb's screenshot isn't what the user sees in her/his web browser, because that's exactly what an aol user thinks of as her/his browser. part of aol's 'ease of use' strategy is to integrate web browsing as a component of the aol client application, creating seamless integration of aol-only content and the internet as a whole.

few aol users bother to launch a separate web browser (or even know that this is an option); the vast majority do their web browsing in a window that looks exactly like that in jennyb's screenshot.

your photoshop analogy is well-taken in one respect, however: that of care and planning invested by the company in creating a useable interface for their product.

adobe worked hard to make many advanced functions of an extremely complicated application easily accessible and logically laid out to make learning relatively easy (adobe's icon system is so well-respected and understood that macromedia practically copied it). aol, conversely, took a relatively simple product and, through haphazard and redundant design, rendered it all but unuseable.

and what i've just said in six verbose paragraphs, jennyb said in two lines with a clever link.
posted by mlang at 8:59 AM on January 8, 2002

We had a client that insisted that it was in fact our fault that her images looked like crap. I had to drive out to the client's house and show them on MSIE that it was in fact AOL's browser. They still didn't want to believe and retorted with "well, everyone uses AOL..."

They ended up having us use PNG images. Ugh.

Thanks for the link tho, i'll be abusing this for years to come.
posted by eljuanbobo at 9:40 AM on January 8, 2002

Glad to see that they can't get their images to load properly in this explanation of image properties: "As you're reading this, to your immediate left you will find a prime example of the mythical 'web graphic.' The graphic in question is an image of the AOL mailbox." oh really? it's a broken image on my end.
posted by shugashax at 10:51 AM on January 8, 2002

Wow, this link is some of the best comedy material I have found in a long time. Thanks for the link.
posted by Slightlynorth at 11:57 AM on January 8, 2002

picking up from where mlang left off, I've found that AOL users have significant trouble understanding what the internet is. AOLers often ask questions like "are you on yahoo internet or AOL internet?" These people aren't stupid, its just that the model they have been given to understand the internet (the AOL browser interface) is purposefully confusing.

Does anyone else find this to be so?
posted by xammerboy at 1:28 PM on January 8, 2002

Exactly xammerboy. "I don't use the Internet I use Yahoo" or "Do you use Netscape or Internet Explorer as your Internet?"

For the second one they literally think they can only use Netscape or Internet Explorer, not "which browser do you use."
posted by geoff. at 1:56 PM on January 8, 2002

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