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  1. #26
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    There is one rule of design that I have fully believed in and used in my web development experience, even before I discovered it was a rule:

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter-Paul Koch
    The basic rule for any design is “Form follows function.” If an object has to perform a certain function, its design must support that function to the fullest extent possible. This goes for industrial design and even more for Web design.

    Because some designers don’t understand the function of a Web site, they make wrong decisions about its form. (source)
    Websites exist to perform a function, and everything about them should contribute to performing that function. A website doesn't need to sit there and look pretty, unless that is its function. An "attractive" design can be a good thing, especially when you are using your website as a sales platform, but at the end of the day it needs to be a functional design.

    The website that is the subject of this thread does not have a bad website - rather, it performs a function and does it well. From what I can guess from the listed documents, it is directed not at customers but at shareholders, at people who know what they want to read and they come back for regular updates. They don't care about pretty colours, they care about the information available.

    I'm seeing a few instances of my second quoted paragraph in this thread...

  2. #27
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cstegner View Post
    I was checking out some of the 2007 fortune 500 list's websites and stumbled upon http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/ the 12th largest company, overseen by warren buffet. At first I thought someone must be holding the URL hostage, but evidentially that is not the case, and last I checked it is not April 1st.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the voice of envy.

    Look at the big picture, those are just puny details. Business is not about pretty sites, it's about making money.

    With that said, the site is perfect.
    Saul

  3. #28
    SitePoint Wizard cranial-bore's Avatar
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    Goes to show how irrelevant our work is.

    Especially the designery-types who use tiny text so as not to obscure their grand vision for the design. On the whole, visitors don't care.

  4. #29
    SitePoint Wizard Wolf_22's Avatar
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    ...It could use some work.
    Last edited by Wolf_22; Sep 17, 2007 at 15:18. Reason: Had to keep my cool.

  5. #30
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranial-bore View Post
    Goes to show how irrelevant our work is.

    Especially the designery-types who use tiny text so as not to obscure their grand vision for the design. On the whole, visitors don't care.
    There is some truth to that (although I wouldn't use the word irrelevant!). I am searching for a corporate apartment in NYC since I have a lot of business coming up in that area. I keep finding my way to the websites of various real estate agents and commercial property managers. Almost every time, it's an all-Flash interface with totally unintuitive navigation. It's driving me crazy! I can't find anything, and there have been a few sites where I gave up.

    I would kill for a simple, effective, design but they all wanted their splash screen and flashy intro - they are losing my business as a result and I'm sure I'm not the only one!
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
    Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

  6. #31
    Into another Dimension liam_uk7's Avatar
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    Why, if this guy is so rich would he care about his website? Its probably the least of his worries, it makes perfect sense for him to have a ugly website becuase hes making money elsewhere...
    Function - Great Design Meets Great Functionality

  7. #32
    SitePoint Guru rageh's Avatar
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    While the website will not win a design competition, it still fulfills a function as was pointed out by others before me. As long as it has people visiting it, it justifies it's existence no matter what the rest of us think of it.

    However, the site could have been made more visually pleasing. Even if a website is simple and to the point, it shouldn't be boring to look at it. The investors, or whoever is the target audience, would have been more pleased, had the site's designer blemished it a bit more. It is human nature to appreciate beauty after all. Thus one does not have to have "a design eye" to appreciate the feel and the look of a well-executed website. The owner of this website does not care if it is beautiful or not. He probably has a captive audience who will visit it regardless. Even if the website was designed by Mickey Mouse, they still would visit it.
    ------------------

  8. #33
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    After pouring half his fortune into the Bill & Melinda Gates Investment Firm, you'd think Bill would return the favor and give Warren's website a free makeover. Then again, Microsoft isn't known for its classy websites, either.

    However, I agree that websites don't have to be technically or artistically sound to get the job done. Content is king, and if you have as much money as Buffett, you probably don't even have to worry about content.

    Considering the source, I'm surprised the URL isn't http://www.freewebsites.com/warrenbuffett

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    There is some truth to that (although I wouldn't use the word irrelevant!). I am searching for a corporate apartment in NYC since I have a lot of business coming up in that area. I keep finding my way to the websites of various real estate agents and commercial property managers. Almost every time, it's an all-Flash interface with totally unintuitive navigation. It's driving me crazy! I can't find anything, and there have been a few sites where I gave up.

    I would kill for a simple, effective, design but they all wanted their splash screen and flashy intro - they are losing my business as a result and I'm sure I'm not the only one!
    It is funny--the marketing types seem to be the ones who have the biggest issues with making usable website. Their brains seem to get captivated by overly interactive user interfaces and unusable features. Nevermind issues like SEO. When I was looking to buy a condo, I could not even find the websites dedicated to particular developments by searching on the most unique string avaliable--the street address. If someone cannot find you based on your own street address, you are doing something wrong.

    Back to the subject at hand--hey, design gurus, why not take the BH site, download all the content and revamp it then offer it to them gratis. You could have a fortune 500 website in your portfolio, and help save the world from evil outdated websites at the same time.
    Off Topic:


    PS: Sagewing--see CBMove.com, ISTR that they had a very well done ajaxy mashup ui.

  10. #35
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    Sometimes a site that is usable and functional is worth more than your latest web 2.0 drool fest.

  11. #36
    Kiwi Fr00t jylyn's Avatar
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    Copyright © 1978-2007 Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
    I bet it was pretty cutting-edge back in '78.

  12. #37
    Sesame Street Iimitk's Avatar
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    I won't even call it functional. When they needed CSS, they used it, even CSS hacks! However, it appears that many different hands had played with the site:

    HTML Code:
    <META NAME="Generator" CONTENT="Microsoft Word 97">
    <TITLE>LINKS TO BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY SUB. COMPANIES </TITLE>
    <META NAME="Template" CONTENT="C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\html.dot">
    HTML Code:
    <meta NAME="GENERATOR" CONTENT="Microsoft FrontPage 3.0">
    HTML Code:
      <META NAME="GENERATOR" CONTENT="Adobe PageMill 2.0 Win">
    IMO, a corporate's website has many things to offer than mere links to PDF documents, and it has the potential to speak to a wider audience than a small fraction of the people interested about them. From their legal disclaimer:
    This website has been prepared solely for the purpose of providing information about Berksire Hathaway Inc. and the services and products it offers.
    Where do they provide such kind of information? They failed in achieving the site's sole purpose, so it isn't functional at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    Back to the subject at hand--hey, design gurus, why not take the BH site, download all the content and revamp it then offer it to them gratis. You could have a fortune 500 website in your portfolio, and help save the world from evil outdated websites at the same time.
    So you're asking designers to compete for redesigning a multi-billion 500 fortune corporate for free? Now I would say Warren Buffet is a true genius!

    Anyway, they won't even bother, they say:
    If you have any comments about our WEB page, you can either write us at the address shown above or e-mail us at berkshire@berkshirehathaway.com. However, due to the limited number of personnel in our corporate office, we are unable to provide a direct response.
    Now from their legal disclaimer:
    Reproduction or distribution of any materials obtained on this website or linking to this website without written permission is prohibited.
    Is this thread is in danger?

    Finita La Comedia..
    Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Einstein

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by simsim View Post
    Now from their legal disclaimer:
    Is this thread is in danger?
    Thanks for reminding me; that's a legal issue I wanted to ask about somewhere on this forum. I've heard that one can be sued for merely linking to a website, which is pretty scary. Are we web publishers really supposed to request formal permission every time we link to a website? And do people actually get sued for linking without permission? If so, then I can only assume that webmasters who don't have such rigid standards but later adopt them are required to track down every webmaster who has already linked to their site and notify them of their new rules before they can file suit.

    Next thing you know, people will be seeking legal ownership of common words, like "windows"!

  14. #39
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy linkin99's Avatar
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    I think it's truly unique design makes it stand out among so many of the other hedge-fund sites.

  15. #40
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy linkin99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jylyn View Post
    I bet it was pretty cutting-edge back in '78.
    Wow! That was before white backgrounds became mainstream. They were well ahead of their time.

  16. #41
    SitePoint Zealot lana77's Avatar
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    This site was designed and developed by warren's friend - Bill Gates himself when he was a college student. If I would have Warren's money (I mean 1/100 fraction of his money) I wouldn't even bother myself with website look. Google also has very simple design, but we all know how much their stock costs

  17. #42
    SitePoint Addict silentcollision's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lana77 View Post
    This site was designed and developed by warren's friend - Bill Gates himself when he was a college student. If I would have Warren's money (I mean 1/100 fraction of his money) I wouldn't even bother myself with website look. Google also has very simple design, but we all know how much their stock costs
    Google and its network at least looks professional, and at the very minimal there's brand promotion. The website in question just looks like crap. Colours, fonts, everything. Maybe I didn't look at it long enough, but those 3 seconds before I closed the tab showed me enough to know that I never want to visit that site again, or use their services. Ever.

    I can't see how people can defend it. User functionality? Some of those fonts would be difficult to read, especially to the potential older target audience.

    Anyway, thanks for posting it - its interesting to say the least.

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by lana77 View Post
    This site was designed and developed by warren's friend - Bill Gates himself when he was a college student. If I would have Warren's money (I mean 1/100 fraction of his money) I wouldn't even bother myself with website look. Google also has very simple design, but we all know how much their stock costs
    That's an interesting note. Do you have a link to a reference? I'm not doubting you; I'd just like to learn more about that. You can PM me if you'd like.

  19. #44
    Sesame Street Iimitk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geosite View Post
    That's an interesting note. Do you have a link to a reference? I'm not doubting you; I'd just like to learn more about that. You can PM me if you'd like.
    Come on geosite!
    Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Einstein

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by simsim View Post
    Come on geosite!
    Yes, I know, I could just Google it, but it would save a little time if anyone knows of a reference. In fact, I had begun Googling for more info, but I haven't found a reference yet.

  21. #46
    Sesame Street Iimitk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geosite View Post
    Yes, I know, I could just Google it, but it would save a little time if anyone knows of a reference. In fact, I had begun Googling for more info, but I haven't found a reference yet.
    Well then, I really don't have a reference available to this, but I've heared that Billy didn't design the site; he actually bought a template from an unknown Seattle designer & re-branded it with his friend's corporate's name. He then wrote Internet Explorer, and the rest is.. *sigh*.. history.
    Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Einstein

  22. #47
    SitePoint Enthusiast joanned's Avatar
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    I wonder what usability expert "Jakob Nielsen" would have to say about this website.

    I mean...take a look at his website. It looks awful but it's usable - which is what he's all about.

  23. #48
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by geosite View Post
    Thanks for reminding me; that's a legal issue I wanted to ask about somewhere on this forum. I've heard that one can be sued for merely linking to a website, which is pretty scary. Are we web publishers really supposed to request formal permission every time we link to a website? And do people actually get sued for linking without permission? If so, then I can only assume that webmasters who don't have such rigid standards but later adopt them are required to track down every webmaster who has already linked to their site and notify them of their new rules before they can file suit.

    Next thing you know, people will be seeking legal ownership of common words, like "windows"!
    Sued for linking?

    Really?

    And who told you that, and do you have a proper reference to this?

    (I assume you are not talking about deep linking with someone else's page appearing in an iFrame, pretending it's yours, which has been accepted as illegal)

  24. #49
    SitePoint Enthusiast mahke's Avatar
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    Site looks fine to me: all information is readily available with the minimum of fuss. Seems to me a lot of people are criticizing it because they feel the need to justify their profession (all top companies need a fancy site, it's just not right!). Nobody cares, least of all BH's shareholders.

  25. #50
    Afraid I can't do that Dave Hal9k's Avatar
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    I have no problems with the general layout, but they could change the colour scheme to something a bit less confusing; to me all the links looked visited.

    You could easily make the site look up to date by using a consistent font face and tweaking the colours, which should take about 15 minutes using CSS. Oh... right...


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