I wonder why buttons look like that

I’m not a designer. You might have noticed that, if you’ve ever seen, well, any HTML page I’ve ever done. I appreciate what they do, really I do, but my lack of even a shred of design talent sometimes makes me a bit unsympathetic to their desire to have what seems like their every whim satisfied, no matter what.

It looks like the fallout from web app designers, especially those using Rails, using GET when they should use POST so that they can style the widget the user clicks to perform an action, will be that they’ll have an easy way of using JavaScript to tunnel their looks-like-a-GET link through POST.

Apparently in all the rush to read Section 9.1 of RFC 2616 and to misinterpret the meaning of SHOULD NOT, nobody is actually reading the part of Section 9.1 that says

This allows user agents to represent other methods, such as POST, PUT and DELETE, in a special way, so that the user is made aware of the fact that a possibly unsafe action is being requested.

The link

Launch The Nuclear Warheads

should go to a page which includes the button

Making the fire alarm look just like a light switch isn’t an example of daring and innovative design, it’s just dangerous. Pushing the table out of the way won’t keep you from falling off the chair.


Comment by Sam Ruby #
Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-05-07 19:05:18

Heh. There would probaby be quite a few people who could use a Greasemonkey script that follows through all the redirects on every link, and changes to cursor: url(data:text/html,☣) (well, whatever equivalent would actually work) for anything that leads to Tubgirl.

Comment by Mike Mariano #
2005-05-07 22:52:16

In an ongoing effort to corrupt the forces of good, I have been experimenting with the CSS Zen Garden as a medium for Tubgirl transmission. The Zen Garden will treat any url following http://csszengarden.com/?cssfile= as its CSS file, so all a web deviant has to do is host his CSS file anywhere on the web, fill it with links to offending pictures, and hope his unsuspecting peers have an affinity for ”The Beauty in CSS Design.”

And there you have it: Say hello to Tubgirl.*

*(Don’t worry, kids. Your eyes are safe.)

Comment by Aristotle Pagaltzis #
2005-05-08 10:09:15

You are almost there. You forget a big reason for people wanting Javascript though: reactiveness. And when a confirmation dialog is given, then the link-as-button UI issue isn’t at all bad.

But we can easily have our cake and eat it, too.

Trackback by Sam Ruby #
2005-05-08 15:27:08

Taking the unsafe GETs out of Rails

Richard Soderberg: (Though, like Phil, I wonder why buttons look like that).

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