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MR. CLICKWELL’S WORST DRESSED WEB SITES

NEW HAVEN, CONN. (SatireWire.com) – And now, just in time for the Fall, caustic site design critic Mr. Clickwell reviews the biggest sites on the Internet and finds their Web wardrobes (gasp!) wanting. From MSN (“Please, don’t bother breaking up Microsoft, just break up this Web site!”), to AOL (“Three words: Red, White, and Bloated”) to eBay (“This site is a bowling shirt come to life”), Mr. Clickwell spares no one.

Click on the site names if you want to judge for yourself.

Salon

Salon, my precious pedagogue, wherefore art the art? You’re supposed to be stylish, hip, and ever-so intriguing. Was your navigation bar attacked by the 1950s? We all learned to stack blocks in kindergarten, sweetie; no need making us live through it again. Really, curves can be useful and sexy. Utilisez quelques! And just a hint: you’ve got scads of white readers, fine, but do you have to belabour the point by using so much white space? It’s Heir Gilligan’s Web site: the content says The Professor, but the layout says Aryan.

AOL

All hail the Red, White, and Bloated. I know why the Europeans have problems with the AOL/Time Warner merger, darling. It’s style, style, style. The Cross-Pond-Posse is anti-fat, and the only thing that could make AOL more “fleshy” would be to join the “Flash-y” site TimeWarner has produced. But Mr. C can be nice. TW’s site is much more appealing than AOL’s. Its Flash animation even features a shot of raven-haired Christiane Amanpour – standing, apparently, in the backwash of an F-16. Wardrobe! Give that woman a hat!

Yahoo!

Yahoo! is supposed to be the busiest on the Internet. I’ll say. This site’s fashion incognoscenti must find their inspiration from Where’s Waldo? The only thing I can find easily is exasperation. Oh, and can someone please tell these people that the logo they designed in their college dorm using Windows Paint has done its duty? Find a nice, quiet pasture somewhere and let it gambol its remaining days in peace. Then shoot it.

MSN

If I were Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, I’d make a deal with Microsoft: Forget breaking up the company, Bill honey, just please break up this site! Pronto! Do we need this much on one lonnnng page? And someone inform Redmond that scrolling went out with the Mosaic browser. What’s good: MSN gives you the option to change the site’s content, layout, and colors. What’s bad: you can’t make the whole thing black.

Napster

The “Blue Screen of Death” is supposed to be a fatal Windows error, not the basis for site design. Oh yes, I realize that hideous, overbearing background is not really blue. It’s more the drab bluish-gray (or sometimes just gray) of death row. What…ever. But remember, my wee Nappys, the Blue and the Gray fought a Civil War for a reason: They don’t mix well.

Lycos and Excite

One always hears talk of how the Internet is threatened by competing standards, but please, Mssrs. Lycos and Excite, can we at least have competing designs? So who was the chicken and who was the egg? Does it matter? Let’s throw a fox in each hen house and take out both at once. Ooo, and this is interesting. Did you know that ‘Lycos’ and ‘Excite,’ in Latin, mean , ‘bland’ and ‘tedious’? What’s that? Gee, you’re right, they don’t mean that. So what’s their excuse?

Go.com

Who would have thought that losing the rights to use that garish stoplight logo would have led to gaudier things? Please, Go-dot-com, just Go-dot-away, and take that beastly swirling logo with you. Who did it anyway, Dorothy Hamill? And what can I say about the site’s colors? Black, frozen-putty-blue, bitter green and my-roots-are-showing blonde. No, I can’t talk about these colors. I can throw up in these colors, but I can’t talk about them.

iWon.com

Oh iWon, it’s fine that you give away $10,000 every day, but really, ma belle garish, does the money have to come straight out of your design budget? How about giving away 10,000 sunglasses every day so we don’t have to stare at those bright blue bars littering the screen? Oh, and if I may put on my plucky programmer’s hat: whatever .html editor you are using has a bug in it. It keeps putting exclamation points at the end of every sentence! How embarrassing!

eBay

This site should have the word “Lenny” stitched across the top. It’s a bowling shirt come to life. Must I don those cheeky tri-colored shoes just to bid at this gutter ball?

ESPN.com

Is it me, or is there something inherently distasteful about putting up images of athletes in tres taut little uni’s on the same page with a photo of rumpled Peter Gammons? It’s so hard to be titillated when you’re cringing. I’m hot and heaving! And do we really need so many categories and subcategories available up front? At least lump together baseball, Nascar, golf, and tennis under one category: “Who cares?”

Amazon

Oh Amazon, you big-limbed jungle beast, tell me: Am I supposed to buy here, or die here? I mean, can we please, please simplify things so I can find what I want by the time I’m 100? Oh yes, smorgasbords are wonderful when you’re trying to eat like a pig, but I just want a book. Preferably on site design. I’ll lend it to you gratis.

Well, that’s it for Mr. Clickwell today. If you know of sites that absolutely must be on Mr. Clickwell’s list, then please email me care of SatireWire. Speaking of which….

SatireWire

Good lord, dear, whoever does your graphics? I thought Helen Keller was dead. Good on you for hiring the disabled. And what’s with that left-side navigation bar? Is that a handle? Are we playing I’m a Little Teapot? Let’s tip this over and pour it out, shall we?

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