If you build web sites for a living, you will no doubt have come across a client who, despite lack of any logic or reason, wants either the time or date displayed on their site. Unlike a vast number of other common web design sins, I have to say that this is not one I’ve ever fallen foul of (despite working on a number of sites that have already been cursed with the presence of the day and/or time before I inherited them).
Whilst there are a small number of cases where it makes sense to present the user with a timestamp (project management tools like Basecamp spring to mind), most of the time it’s an unnecessary waste of space. Most commonly used browsing platforms, including my S60 phone, have a clock built in. If I want to know the time or the date, it’s only a brief glance away. There’s no need to waste space on the page by reiterating the obvious.
Today I was at the Science Museum in London, and was interested to see their exhibition of computing through time. They’ve got some really great examples of computers we’ve not used for months and months. Amongst the most impressive, if only in terms of size, was the British built Pegasus valve computer they had on display. This thing is huge and practically prehistoric – dating from 1959 – which is nearly as old as a aunty. Its user interface consists of a panel of switches and two circular display devices that look like they may have once been installed inside a submarine.
But the best bit … well, I’ll let the photo speak for itself.
Everyone has a clock.