Home-page JavaScript makes one entire site inaccessible

Go to with JavaScript turned off, and you’ll see a completely blank page — nothing at all.

This is a terrible mistake from a news site that’s produced some outstanding online journalism and an unusually decent electronic edition. This use of JavaScript pretty much firewalls the site away from mobile devices, screen readers or non-graphical browsers. (Disclaimer: Florida Today is a competitor of the site I work for.)

The culprit is the site’s JavaScript redirect from to!NEWSROOM/index.htm. There are many ways Florida Today could have done this better:

  1. Not issue the redirect at all. Home page URLs should not redirect to something else.
  2. Send the redirect in the HTTP headers. Just about any piece of Web server software can be configured to do this, or just about any server-side scripting language can be programmed to.
  3. Use the “meta refresh” technique. At least that would generally work even without JavaScript.
  4. Offer a backup. For goodness’ sake, don’t leave the <BODY> blank! Put a “if you are not redirected automatically...” message in there with a link people can follow manually.

I was also amused by the unnecessary setTimeout call in the onload attribute. But that’s a minor point compared to this use of JavaScript in the first place.

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This page last modified on Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 8:58 pm