Tag Archives: Entertainment Weekly

EW.com is a Terrible Website, Continued

EW.com doesn’t work for me anymore in Opera. At least, not properly. In their “TV Watch” section, the comments are an inserted iframe that is built via javascript. This is the script that does it:

<script type="text/javascript">
var boardUnrounded = Math.random() * 10000000000;
var boardRounded = Math.floor(boardUnrounded);
var boardDisplayPath = "http://epoche.ew.com/articles/comments?article_key=20039591&brand_key=3&
article_title=Things+Fall+Apart&rand=" + boardRounded; // alert( boardDisplayPath );
document.write( '[iframe id="iframe" src="' + boardDisplayPath + '" width="0" height="0"' );
document.write( 'style="position: fixed; top: -1000px; left:-1000px;"' );
document.write( '][/iframe]' );

Notice how the alert() function commented out, but still there; some sloppy debugging left around for us. Notice how the comments are loaded dynamically. What is the purpose of this? Why the random number? Could it be to ensure refreshes on each page load? Either way, between document.write and the iframe, the page consistently renders around the comments, and then the comments come smashing in. Except in Opera, when they simple don’t show up at all.

There are also javascript errors by default in the normal page load, IE chokes on some ad code, and Opera modifies the javscript over and over to make it not crash, and their CSS is a mess. In short, the entire thing is ridiculous. I don’t understand why they chose such a complex and useless path to code. Certainly I’ve seen plenty of sites that do much more traffic that have not opted to make their code a complete mess like this.

EW.com is a disaster and is a total disappointment. I’ve renewed EW for the last time. I intend to explain to them exactly why I’m cancelling my subscription too.

It just goes to show that users really do pay attention to little details on your website, and in this case, they are going to lose a paying paper subscriber due to sloppy, pointless, poor web design.

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EW.com is a Terrible Website

If you want an example of how NOT to write a website, go no further than the disasterous ew.com. Entertainment Weekly is a magazine to which I subscribe. It contains generally good interviews and articles about TV, movies, books, and all sorts of other cultural phenomena. For a long time, one of the more compelling aspects of the subscription was the website, which includes the oft updated “Pop Watch Blog” and the daily “TV Watch” section.

First, let’s examine the URLs. From time to time, I want to email someone a link to an interesting piece. It would be nice to say “ew.com/tvwatch.” But alas, that doesn’t work.

This cryptic URL scheme is often used by big companies, but sucks for search engine standing: http://www.ew.com/ew/tv/tv_watch/0,,,00.html is a valid URL. So let’s review:

http://www.ew.com -> base URL
/ew/ -> a servlet, perhaps?
/tv/ -> a subdirectory, or an argument?
/tv_watch/ -> same as above…
0,,,00.html -> why God, why?

Aside from this, the webmasters decided to use two different commenting systems in the site, one for the Pop Watch Blog and one for TV watch and other articles. At least one is based on Typead, and it sucks with a capital SUCKS. It filtered out words like “Peter,” which makes for a silly looking post when you’re commenting on the main character on Heroes, Peter Petrelli. It also thinks all sorts of comments are spam, and tells you so, even when your post is completely legit. To post, you often have to play a game where you go back and tweak and re-submit, over and over, ad nauseum. This leads to about 50% successful posts, 50% gave up trying.

Then their TV Watch boards — they’re so bad I don’t even know where to begin. Posting is a complete hit or miss. You’d submit a post, it would go through a magical redirection and then your post would be gone. The back button wouldn’t work. And if you tricked it back, the textarea would be emptied. You could post over and over and it would give no explanation of what happened or why the post was declined. Every single item would be 3 legit posts followed by “this board sucks.” It got so bad it was unusable.

And finally, EW heard us. I thought.

They took their boards offline for 4 days. FOUR DAYS. Their board consists of only two fields: name and post. This is four fields in a database: id, time, name, text. If you want, “isVisible.” The boards are unthreaded. There is no HTML at all permitted. This should’ve taken a competent programmer about 1 day, perhaps hours at best. But for EW.com, after 4 days, what they released is still a giant stinker. Check out today’s American Idol review. If the comments come up at all (embedded in an iframe, for some reason, that may or may not load for you), nearly every comment is littered with “****” in the middle of words or in between them. Nothing is actually censored, mind you, it’s just a silly, stupid bug that should have been noticed early on. And long lines don’t wrap, they just keep going and create a horizontal screen scroller.

EW.com is a terrible website. It’s poorly designed. It’s poorly architechted. The page titles suck and make it hard to share links. The boards are terrible and unreliable. Outgoing links are all encapsulated in Javascript – so middle click is broken. If EW had any sense, they’d fire the entire web development staff and hire new people who can fix the complete mess that is their online presence.

I will be moving over to E! for my daily celebrity/entertainment/trash news. And I am very seriously considering cancelling my EW subscription.

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Rachel Ray wins “Quote of the Week”

Entertainment Weekly: Do you ever worry that there can only be so much happiness in the universe, and that every time you smile, a unicorn gets punched in the face?

Rachel Ray: I would smile all day along, every day, if it guaranteed a unicorn getting punched in the face. I find them really annoying.

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