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The New Bill Nye Website Is A Train Wreck
Jul 31, 2014Web DevelopmentComments (0)
I really like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but the new is a great example of a bunch of hard work and talent gone completely wrong. It looks visually appealing, as many parallax websites do, but the usability takes a backseat to the look and style. Add in poor programming and bugs, and this site is just plain bad.

Bill Nye Official Website (July 31, 2014)

  • 168 requests, 6.1 MB transferred, 7.26 second load time: 168 http requests is insane for a simple informational website like this. 20 to 40 would be more acceptable, but still high. Even on a decently fast cable connection, it takes over 7 seconds to load.
  • Loading Bar: This isn't a game or feature-rich application. If a website requires a several second loading bar before displaying any content, it's going to lose visitors. If this site was developed well, a loading bar wouldn't be necessary anyway, as the initial landing page only contains one large image.
  • Scroll Right: Horizontal scrolling is unconventional and requires more effort than vertical scrolling. Users rarely use the right arrow key when browsing the internet outside of browser games. This might work decently on a touch device, but desktop and laptop users hate it. Furthermore, commonly-used keys such as Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down are not functional.
  • Navigation: The navigation is hidden behind vague icons that require scrolling over each one to learn what their purpose is. Furthermore, their hover effect changes their size dramatically, moving nearby elements and making it difficult to smoothly view the other icons. Update: The navigation appears to be gone altogether now.
  • Responsive Nightmare: As the browser width decreases, the website becomes nearly unusable due to media queries and JavaScript gone haywire. Bringing the browser width back up causes further issues, leaving a mostly broken site.
  • Animation Delay: After clicking a navigation link or hitting an arrow key, it takes a couple seconds before the content stops moving and you can effectively interact with it.
  • Unfinished Pages: There are unfinished sections of the site that are publicly linked, like the comments and entries.

Here is the site after resizing the browser down and then back up:

What can be done to fix this website? It's hard to think of any small number of changes that would do it. Perhaps going to a traditional vertical-scrolling website with a substantial overhaul on the underlying HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The design itself is appealing, and could probably remain mostly intact with a new navigation menu.

Strangely, the site seems to run much better on Firefox than Chrome.
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