An Open Letter to You, Webmaster

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Dear Webmaster,

I've recently been contacted by your customer with regards to my web services. They mentioned that they were unhappy with your work and would like for me to create a new website for them. I'm writing this letter to thank you!

First, Webmaster, I'd like to thank you for not using PHP includes on the customer's old website. Instead of simple changes to common areas of the website taking only a moment to change, you've successfully turned a quick update into a twenty minute hunt through endless HTM files.

I'd also like to thank you for waiting weeks before starting on the customer's simple updates. Even though the customer had an important event coming up, you stood firm and completed their changes when you were ready to. I admire your resolve.

And how could I forget the numerous Web 1.0 features you so generously added to their website? No website is complete without a snazzy counter, a forget-me-not guestbook, and above all, those quick-loading java applets for navigation. Let me not forget to mention the "Under Construction" GIFs you placed on their site during development (I love the construction worker swinging the hammer over and over again), those IE-only marquees, and the "best if viewed in Internet Explorer" message. You thought so much about the user that you told them which browser to use -- I would've never thought of that!

I beg to understand your CSS expertise. The way that links get bold and jump a few pixels larger when you place your mouse over the cursor is so neat. I mean, when you do that the user DEFINITELY knows that their mouse is hovering over that link! And I admire how you shun the trendy practice of external stylesheets -- who wants every page to look the same? Where's the imagination?

Your SEO knowledge is unmatched. Submitting the customer's website to hundreds of search engines? Where do you find the time? And leaving some pages with the title tag as "Untitled Document?" Genius. What's that called? Reverse psychology?

Let me not forget to mention the methods you use to keep me entertained while at the customer's website. That embedded media player that allows me to play MIDIs and other various sounds is a joy! I also love when you underline text so I can play the "Is It a Link or Isn't It a Link?" game -- what fun!

Above all, Webmaster, I'd like to thank you for being around. You doing your job so well helps me to gain customers and do my job well. Don't ever go away -- keep up the great work!

Sincerely,

David Walsh
Senior Web Developer

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Discussion

  1. Louis

    I love this article!!! So hilarious!!

  2. Aha every bit of this is so true! I recently had to steer a client away from wanting todays date and time, and a weather widget on their site – because you know, no-one has a clock on their computer.. or a window to look out of.

  3. Haha – that sounds like a web designer from Indianapolis!

  4. Miguel Palazzo

    Hahaha! I read this over and over again, remind me of those things I even did more than 9 years ago hehehe. The counter, oh my… Remarkable David. Thanks for making me laugh so bad

  5. Absolutely hilarious! If only it weren’t true.

    ps. I think your last line was supposed to read: “Don’t ever go away…”

  6. HAHAHAHA THAT IS HILARIOUS. Great read to start off the day XD

  7. hahahahah ah.. brilliant.

  8. Niobe

    Don’t forget, no IE preferred notification is complete without a resolution suggestion. Let me degrade my screen settings to 800X 600 to accomodate this site.

    I also love what they do with frames and the choice between flash and HTML sites in the splash page, linking to the page in a bare bones popup. A great way to hide the link and the source code.

    I do feel sad webmaster undermines my right-click-fu. I WANT that animated gif of the cat sleeping in the hammock with the glitters, copyright be damned.

  9. This post i just great, and couldn’t be more true… Thanks to all of those great webmasters out there…

  10. Great post! :)

  11. LOL, great post David, I remember the days when people cluttered they’re sites with all kinds of cr4p, and I have had to upgrade some like this that were built in recent years.

    I wish there were more people like this to put work our way ;)

  12. Jeff Hartman

    Everyone who’s been in the business for a few years or more has thought this at some point…and likely someone has thought the same thing about you (figuratively) and me at some point as well. ;)

  13. Hahahaha!! Very hilarious!

    Just like everyone else here, reminds me of when I first started coding.

  14. Great gReat grEat! :) :)

  15. Rich

    Dave, This is beyond classic. the marquee and the embedded midi player. Awesome!!!

    I just hope that the site you mention was created around 1998 if that.

    Oh and this comment is best viewed in IE 5.5

  16. This made me giggle. I got in the game late, so I never did any of those things. I got taught by standards nit picks. The only thing I will admit to doing was the counter once or twice until someone had pity on me and showed me google analytics.

    Awesome post!

  17. Dear David,

    please stop stealing my customers! Who doesn’t love a counter on his/hers website, that’s one of my prime sales arguments!!

    If you are a Senior Web Developer at 25, what will you call yourself at 35, 45, 55 ?

    All this with a ;-) off course! Keep it up!

  18. Sadly, I did do pretty much all of these things in 8th grade… I was teh bestest webmasta with my animated backgrounds ;p

    I would love to show you my old site David but geocities killed it…

  19. Java applets, hahahahahah, great post!!

  20. Random Joe

    Awesome post — hilarious!

  21. @deef – That’s hilarious.

  22. David, you’re a hero!

  23. Mock me if you must, but I can out code any of you with my handy-dandy FrontPage Editor.

    You with your classes and ids! Everything should be individualized! Suppose I want to change a table element font color? According to you I would have to create a class, and edit some style sheet on a different page! I know I can just change the font color for that one spot! Edit it 2 spots? You are all crazy.. And you guys are mad cause of my mad animated gif skillz!

    I quite enjoyed the article! David didn’t you and Chris do the Weather Template? :-D

    Really though, we all went through it… I really did use MSFP and I did make lots of animated gifs… and we all helped shape the new web! I am sure we will look back in a few years and chuckle again.. Does everyone really need a twitter and and a dig?!

  24. What’s wrong with scrolling marquee text and best viewed in Internet Explorer messages? Haven’t you heard that browsing the internet in Internet Explorer 5.5 and perhaps even 6 is the best internet experience you could ever have?

    And don’t get me started on background sound midis that play when you load a page, they’re so damn awesome, very entertaining and especially when your speakers are turned up really loud. The drums in midis really take me back to Metallica’s 2003 album St. Anger.

    Sorry, I can no longer keep up my sarcasm any longer. Everything I just said above was a complete lie. Being a web developer I am ashamed I just said IE 6 is the best internet experience :(

    Funny post though. I thumbed it up in Stumbleupon.

  25. I teach at a local college on the side and I occasionally encounter web designers who do all this stuff. Most of them just don’t know any better. The other day, one of them asked me to teach him web design, because he is good at editing existing pages, but not at “making HTML pages from scratch.”

    So, for every sleazeball who just doesn’t care, there are probably 10 who are actually trying very hard to improve. It can be hard to tell the difference just by looking at their work, though.

  26. ThomasP

    Hey, gret job! Very well written.
    I myself must admit that I made all of these mistakes a few years ago (exept the java-applets, I had no idea what those were g)…
    fortunately I’m a lot wiser now, but there are still people out there who should be ashamed to call themselves “web-developers”….

  27. Dragan

    I can’t stop laughing. It is 6am here and I was looking for fast moo help but got sent way back. heheh , used them all ! Frontpage, midi players, counters,weather modules ALL I tell you. Today 8 years later , I own a web design company. Isn’t this funny ? :) Thnx David great article

  28. So true. That is how I have gotten may clients. It made me laugh I think people were looking at me funny here in the office o well they will never understand :-D

  29. Some young kid is going to say basically the same thing about your work someday.

  30. @Steven: You’re probably right!

  31. I think I’ve fallen in love. LOL.

  32. Dan

    Shows how much you know. I happen to know that visitors enjoy the Comic Sans font.

    And anything over 16 colors is really just showing off, isn’t it?

  33. Brian

    Awesome!! a great twist on the standard “Top 10 Web Design Mistakes…” Keep it up.

    You might lose a little punch with the typo in this line:
    (I love the construction working swinging the hammer over and over again)

    –Could be wrong, but I think you meant construction worker.

  34. ROFLCOPTER. that was hilarious!

  35. @ David , would you mind if I place this on my demo site with backlink to you?

  36. junebug

    ha ha ha, we’re starting up a computer it, sales, web page company here, and I’ve been getting some freelance web work until now. This almost describes to a T a couple sites I’ve had to re-do!!!

  37. LOL, brilliant, i love this post.

  38. What!? No flash intro?

  39. Nick

    The one about expanding the text when you hover is agony. eBay have just started doing it in a current beta they are offering and it makes the whole page move at some Zoom settings in FF3 and IE latest. Lloyds bank use it (one of the biggest banks in the UK). Tesco (the UK’s biggest supermarket) only caters for IE properly.

  40. I love the sarcastic point of view. All of this is so true and I remember doing every single thing you listed. (In the past of course!) :-)

  41. M.Fireball

    Funny post, but I feel like even the jokes are out of date. I haven’t seen half of these in at least a few years. Are they seriously still an issue? Or have I just been fortunate in my browsing?

  42. Evan

    This sounds so similar to a current day myspace profile page. In my letter to the webmaster I would have added frames and those scrolling status bar messages.

    PS.. I did tons of this stuff myself but it was about 12 years ago and I was in grade 6.

  43. @M.Fireball — oh boy they are still around and running rampant. sad thing is they aren’t on any blog, or really any amature web designers site… they are on small business websites and town/county/state sites!

  44. This is so true. Everybody knows that making a great website without no errors is not an easy task. Out of curiousity, I tried to validate this page :

    Markup Validation : Errors found while checking this document as XHTML 1.0 Strict!
    Result: 61 Errors, 4 warning(s)

    W3C CSS Validator results : Sorry! We found the following errors (5)

  45. Absolutely brilliant! Funniest thing I’ve read for ages – and oh so true (especially of some of the ‘old-hat’ web design firms here in Perth).

  46. GiuseppeFargo

    Pretty good but I think it would have had more “punch” with some sarcasm… ;)

  47. Personally, I’m a big fan of sparkling text. it just adds that something extra…

    …quality post….and left click on subscribe

  48. I still have a website that’s like this. I last updated it in 1996 I think. I think it’s the perfect example of what you’re talking about (to be fair, CSS wasn’t invented back then)

    Great article, thanks for the laugh.

  49. This was a great read! I could relate 100%!

  50. I need to show this to my dad… He still thinks FrontPage is great… Which of course it is. You can easily import images made with Paint in there! Do you know how convenient that is? Al those great effects in Paint in 3 clicks on your website. O hell you can do great stuff with Frontpage Extensions. You were damn wrong with your java applet menu’s; that can all be done with FrontPage.
    Luckily it doesnt understand PHP; what can you do with ‘interactive content’? I want information, with links all over the place execpt for in the menu! Which of course is at the top of the page, because your 600×800 sreen is not wide enough to show the menu on the side.
    No, after reading this article, i’m not going to use Dreamweaver ever again. Nor Photoshop, because paint is sooo much more convenient.

    This article remembers me of a friend, who also created his own website, and asked me for advice. http://www.riky.nl.ae/ I don’t think he needs any.

    Thanks for the brilliant article, and omg I want Comic Sans MS on every website in the world!

  51. Nice and informative article…

  52. speed

    OMG this is insane… Absolutely the same as I used to think when I see a website like that :P

    And how can we forget the Never Ending shiny flash effects on the company’s logo hehe…

    Keep it up!
    Btw, If I ever get an opportunity like this then am I allowed to copy this ? LOL!

  53. Reading this reminded me of how I created websites back in the old days. I did almost all of those things you mentioned in the article! :D

  54. juci-juice

    i almost thought this was for real a first. what sarcasm hhaha

  55. Ha! you missed a couple, the pop-ups are so much fun too, and it’s so much fun when you are clicking on the back button on your browser but the website doesn’t let you go back. And I especially like when you finally just close the browser to win the game of escaping the website and then 20 more pop-ups come up. You’re right, these are the best websites, keep up the good work you great webmasters. Oh and you know what I love now days, those advertisements that say “CONGRATULATIONS – You have been selected to win a free iPod Nano blah blah” I have won over 50 iPods now, I haven’t actually recieved one yet, but I own at least 50 somewhere.

  56. carl perfect

    Don’t forget those really helpful tech sites providing manuals and guides only in HTML not PDF or zipped HTML .I mean when I want a complete work on a subject to print off or read offline it is so much more fun and convenient to have to click each link to a page and save it(sometimes 200-300-400 pages +) “WTF” than to to simply have a single PDF or zipped file to download.

  57. I love this, it’s what makes me the most money. Got to love programming, there will always be new people entering that use some clients to learn and grow their own skill sets. It’s an eventuality that they will come knocking on my door for help. Love it!

  58. Chiron

    I’d have thought this was funnier, were it not for the fact that I do most of these things, or did at one time. Of course, I’m a mere hobbyist, with my own personal site of no interest – and certainly, no one’s income depends on it.

    But you’ve pointed out a number of flaws that annoy me when I arrive on supposedly professional sites – why should I have to use IE, or any other browser? Of course your Website is under construction. You should always be making improvements as information changes.

    The problem is that any half-baked amateur (like me) can set up a Website and make it look semi-good, more or less. It may not work very well, and you may have to use a particular browser, but it’s often enough to convince a customer that you know what you’re doing. So, that’s what happens. You get amateurs charging money and making a mess.

    I hope some Webmasters will take your words to heart – but not so many, that you lose business…

  59. brilliant! You forgot to say thanks for blink though :)

  60. thanks 4 the post.. great..

  61. Haha! Great read, unfortunately (or, not perhaps) all too true :D

  62. Rick

    you’re welcome

  63. Oh, I’m not supposed to do it that way then? I suppose I better learn some CSS and what was that other thing PDP?.
    Great post thanks for the laugh

  64. Ah, so classic. I guess that’s called job security? Come on, we all did some of that stuff. Well, 10 or so years ago anyway! I know I resisted style sheets for awhile, but it’s sure been a long time since I started to use them. Thanks for the great post!

  65. In the preview, that was an ordered and numbered list….

  66. This is hilarious, without a doubt. All the makings of a poor web site.

  67. STUMBLED !

    Great read :)

  68. Fabulous.

  69. Shishant

    Nice 1

  70. You’ve missed a few things like using tables for every single bit appearing on the screen, u know the thing where 3,159 tables are nested or the amazing javascript thingy that animates the title of a page?

    great article :)

  71. epic post

  72. David’s perspective is valid in many situations. However, consider this. My neighbor’s teenager mows my lawn during the summer. He doesn’t charge much and he’s happy for the work. A “lawn care specialist” sneered at this arrangement as he sought to have me sign up for his services. He charged a lot more and would be less eager to mow when it was needed and not when routinely scheduled. The grass doesn’t care and the neighborhood watch has no complaint. I just want the basic service – like many businesses simply need who, what, where etc. Why would I pay more to have a graphic designer, database developer, ecommerce consultant etc. instead of a “Webmaster” – snob appeal? Reminds me of the $400 hamburger that was so much better than McDonalds.
    My $.02

  73. Edmond

    Well Ken, this is not an article about maintenance-level operations on something that has already been implemented (your yard). This is about the implementation side of things. It’s like hiring your teenage neighbor to design your new front yard. Or for that matter, anyone of any age with a low level of education in the field in question.

    We’re talking about sod that has been put in but not watered properly. Bark has been spread in all but one area, and in that area there’s a construction sign with a large flashing light on it. Bits of gravel from the pathway have been spilled at various points. Instead of a neat row of a single type of flower, there is an uneven row of 8 different plants, some looking rather exotic considering your climate zone.

    So the landscaper gets called. That is who is writing this letter.

  74. Had to laugh out loud… ok so ten years ago I was guilty of pretty much all those things {shudders} and not forgetting flash intro pages with a ten minute load time before the ‘click here to enter’ legend appeared.

    Counters urgh…
    Remember the man banging head against pc under construction .gif? urghhhh….
    Frames… uuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    MS Frontpage… Aaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhhhhhhhh

    Although in my defence I was just figuring stuff out ten years ago and only on a website for myself, been a long learning curvebut a neccessary one I think. We could all do to go back ten years and look at what we were doing… shocking! lol, great post!

  75. i love this and is all the true

  76. badscene

    I’ve been a longtime lurker on this site. You write some great tutorials, David. This letter, though, it just puts it over the top. This is hilarious — some great comic relief to start my morning.

  77. Haha, so real! :)

  78. It’s so true! Great post

  79. @Dwayne: and don’t forget to mention that the midi background will be REALLY entertaining if your speakers are turned up loud at 2:30 AM :D

  80. Sounds like a letter you could send to send to any offshore web firm that charge ‘cheaper then inhouse’ rates.

  81. hahaha good post!

  82. You are very welcome:) Hope webmasters like myself can help you get employment by me playing my part, that sounds like partnerships in heaven, maybe you could make me your co-senior web developer guy.

    Regards,

    Webmaster of the 90’s

  83. Sidd

    Did you not start like that (somewhat) David ?

  84. @Sidd: Yes. And as someone paying for a website, I wouldn’t want that person doing my website. :)

  85. Sidd

    @David Walsh: Ok David. How long did it take you David before you really caught on with things ?

  86. Great read, ha ha. Thanks for making me smile today.

  87. Great read, ha ha. Thanks for making me smile today.

  88. good laugh – thank you, sir!

  89. BRAVO! I would have loved to hear David say this in real life! I would have been cracking up for sure. This is one to go down in the halls of web design history! Thanks for this.. I really enjoyed it and will be sharing your link with others I know in the field.

  90. Laughable, but also true.

  91. hehehe, nice… how did you got that idea david :D

  92. ha ha, excellent!! Totally true.

  93. Mesaber

    Yow, Great Article My Friend.

    I am about to read the second part of it :)

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