Why is the W3C Web Site So Hard To Use?

I recently learned that the W3C has a quality assurance web site. The reason I learned this was because I followed a link to a W3C article about writing links.

Today I wanted to revisit that article to answer a question I had, but could I find it? Of course not.

There have been plenty of negative comments about how hard the W3C specs are to read and use, but hey, they are specs and so I expect them to be pretty technical/inaccessible. I'm not sure that I should have to expect that, but that's another story.

An Exercise in Frustration

However, I find it hugely frustrating (and ironic) that the W3C QA site, which is supposedly about best practice in web design, is so darned hard to use. See for yourself. Try finding the article "Don't use "click here" as link text" on the W3C QA site without using the direct link I provided - it's a total guessing game.

I mean, what is up with the navigation? "Nearby" pages? What does that mean? And what are "QA IG" and "QA WG" anyway? Oh, I see, I have to click into them to find out. Nice.

When I did finally find my way to the article in question (I resorted to searching for it on Google), I noticed that the choices in the "Nearby" navigation sidebar had changed - now there was a "Tips Index". And of course, I had no clue where I was in the site because there was no breadcrumb trail to give me any context.

New Visitors

Just for fun I clicked on the "New Visitors" link at the top. Ha! Is anyone realistically expected to wade through all that link-strewn text in the (vain) hope that they might learn something useful? Not to mention the fact that the design of the page changes completely - am I at a completely different site now? Aren't you supposed to make things easy for new users?

Rant Over

Anyway, enough of my rant. I know the W3C is strapped for resources and that their web site probably evolved organically over a number of years. But as a consumer, I shouldn't have to care. I should be able to expect to find the information I am looking for.

If they have plans to revamp their QA site or are looking for assistance to do so, I have not heard about it, so I can only assume that they either (a) think it's fine as it is, or (b) don't care. I hope not - perhaps someone can enlighten me.

Posted on: July 30, 2004 | No comments

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