So, as noticed by clem in our comments, has launched. With no Flash. You think I’d be happy, yes?

No. OK; let’s go through this one. It starts with a pointless splash screen which does nothing except make it take longer to get into the site. Quite a bit longer, in some cases – you can only click on Craig himself, or the “Click to enter” sign at the bottom, which is rather counter-intuitive. The first thing you see after that is a message telling you that Craig Charles is online to “wet your taste buds”. Oi! Still, at least they’ve now learnt that an ellipsis is three dots – we’ll ignore the slightly dodgy spacing of them, though. Oh.

The next point is the worst, though. All the pages are done as big 760 x 560 graphics. This is stupid for a hell of a lot of reasons – for a start, it takes ages to load, the pages can’t resize to fit your browser window. Even worse, they’ve not added any alt text to the images at all – meaning blind people are cut off from the site completely. They’re not making it any easier for themselves, either – each time they want to update the site, instead of changing a bit of HTML, they’ve got to alter the graphic. Absolutely ludicrous.

Irritatingly, the main index page uses graphics which don’t give any indication as to what section you’re about to enter; you have to look to the filenames its linking to in order to see what you’re about to look at; again, hardly intuitive. (Just having text links would have been nicer – currently, you have no idea which pages you’ve actually seen until you click on them, wheras with just text, the links change colour when you’ve seen them. However, a lot of sites have this problem…)

The graphics themselves are OK. The cartoons are quite fun, but there are nasty touches here and there; look at the bad version of the Dwarf logo on the Dwarf page (nice to see they want to produce something a bit different for that page that we haven’t seen before, though). But the worst thing about it is that the graphics are done as JPEGs; a lossy format that was designed specifically for photographs, where the artefacts don’t show up as much. Using them for text is stupid (if they were going to do the site like this, they should have at least used PNGs) – hence, the site is littered with horrible artefacts around the lettering, which looks terrible. So, they’ve unwisely used graphics instead of normal HTML, and then they haven’t even done it right. Well done.

Just look at this page on Takeshi’s Castle for a roundup of the problems. Artefacting everywhere (even on the background!), awful spelling and punctuation (“voice over” for voiceover, the needless dot after the exclamation marks, and worst of all, the actual misspelling of the name of the show!), and the horribly lo-res version of the logo at the bottom. Nice cartoon of Charles there, though. There is a similar standard on every other page.

I’m not just being anal here; the maintainers really aren’t helping themselves. For instance: the don’t provide a title for the pages. Well, I lie, they do – view the source, and they actually give each page the name “Untitled Document”. Amongst other things, this means that when Google crawls the site, it won’t be able to give the results a meaningful title. I don’t mean to be rude, but the entire site appears to have been put together by someone with no understanding of how the web works whatsoever.

On a more positive note, there are some nice snippets of info on the site. He’s currently working on a children’s book called Scary Fairy, Snotty Poems For Rotten Kids; he’ll be on an episode of Weakest Link which he recorded recently on ’90’s Icons’ (the same page also mentions the Changing Faces news we’ve mentioned before, which sounds interesting); that Craig is currently writing “a family show which he plans to tour in the near future”; some interesting dirt on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (or ‘Ripley’ as they seem to want to call it; FOR FUCKS SAKE, HOW DIFFICULT WOULD IT BE TO CHECK YOUR SPELLING AND PUNCTUATION?); that in movie stuff he has just finished shooting Fated where he plays a DJ called Pedro (which has been mentioned before, but we’d forgotten about), and is due to start shooting The Dealer soon (the mention about the Dwarf movie being due to start shooting later this year is so vague as to be worth absolutely nothing). There’s also some nice samples from his current bad, The Eye, from an album due to be released soon. All interesting snippets, and it looks like all this is due to be expanded on a lot more when the site fully goes online, which is excellent. It’s exactly what the site should be doing.

There’s loads more I could say, but I think you’ve heard enough. It’s apparently a preview site; please, let the full site completely change the way everything is done. Stupidly, though, I still prefer it to Flash…

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