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    Tuesday, July 13, 2004

    (Another) rant on web standards

    I know I've blabbered on about "web standards" in the past. I don't have to explain why I'm a proponent at this point. Adopting web standards just makes sense. (But if you want supporting arguments, look no further than the Web Standards Project).

    The last 12 months have seen some significant support for web standards.'s re-design is web standards friendly, as well as the New York Public Library's new site. Countless other websites have taken the plunge too. As a result, they've provided faster rendering times for their users, more flexibility for updates, and, most importantly, better cross-browser compatibility.

    Enter I love this site. I have always loved this site -- certainly more for its content than its design. It's a wealth of information about music. Arguably the most exhaustive online resource for artist and album information, including bios, discographies, and reviews.

    I wouldn't be able to guess the number of visitors they receive each day, but I bet it's a heavily trafficked site. You could easily make the statement that AllMusic is a very popular, very visible site, and it's one of the few authorities on music available at our fingertips. And, there's no doubt it's been around the block.

    So for the love of all that's relaunched, why did AllMusic re-design their site to accomodate only one type of browser?!? I knew they were in the process of cleaning up their look, so I was expecting a slicker appearance paired with a better navigational scheme. Unfortunately I can't comment on either of these potential improvements because I receive this alert when I try to access the homepage:

    Notice: You are accessing with a browser that is not currently supported. The appearance and functionality of the site could be impacted. is optimized for Internet Explorer 5.5 and above for Windows.

    Good stuff, huh? All I wanted to do was look up information on the lounge legend Arthur Lyman. But whamo! No dice. Some of the homepage appears, but it's rendered incorrectly with margins overlapping margins, text floating off the page, and critical features simply not working (including the search button).

    I'm not about to stop using the Firefox browser because of these problems. But it really is a shame that a site as *important* as AllMusic didn't factor cross-browser compatibility into their re-design. I know you're thinking, so what, 95% of internet users rely on Microsoft's Internet Explorer and they'll never encounter any problems with AllMusic. True, but as a result, the web designers and developers that cater to Internet Explorer are also catering to the lowest common denominator. Despite what some believe, you can create a website that works on all browsers, including Internet Explorer. The ironic thing is that taking this route (and adopting web standards) means lighter pages, better code, more flexibility, and *ahem* cross-browser compatibility.

    So, my response to AllMusic's new digs is simply: "C'mon guys, you're a big-time veteran site. You should know better." Maybe I'll take my Dad's advice, and write a letter. It won't force them to change their site, but at the very least, I hope to get an explanation as to why they chose the path they did.

    [EDIT: Oh goody. It seems that I'm not the only one who's having problems with the AllMusic relaunch. Here's a more in-depth look at the re-design, and the problems therein.]