Google have launched their new personal homepage service, comprising of a browser-based what-you-see-is-a-bit-like-what-someone-else-might-see (formally known as WYSIWYG) editor, and a coupled hosting service. Like Geocities used to be – remember that? Here’s a page I created in just a few moments poking around with it. Signup was painless, editing was painless, publishing was painless. The resultant markup? Painful.
I’d like some web standards with that.
Google, listen. I know creating a visual editor is tricky. Combine the flexibility of multiple skins and there are a huge number of non-trivial issues to address. But that’s what Google are good at, right? Search is a non-trivial issue: conquered. Web-based email that actually feels responsive and manageable: solved. Flexible advertising models that work well for the little guy as well as the big players: 0wned. Usable interfaces that enable online maps to actually be useful for finding your way around: home run. Building a web page that meets a basic set of implementation rules easily learned by any literate small child: erm, we’ll get back to you. Seriously.
If this were Jonny’s Homepage Builder dot com then I don’t think I’d really care. But this is Google, and that means that the web-using public at large will be introduced to it and will begin to use it. Which means that the web-using public at large will soon be turning out nasty, invalid web pages at a rate of knots. At that, my friends, is a problem.
So what can Google do?
Unless the architecture is such that pages can be fixed once they been published, Google really need to withdraw this service until it’s fixed. Would they launch Google Mail if it was malforming the emails it sent? No way. They’d fix it. So is it acceptable to launch Google Page Creator when it’s malforming the pages it creates? No way. And don’t give me any of the it’s only a beta crap. We all know that carries no weight these days.
Google are soliciting feedback on this new service, so I encourage you to create your own page, test it and then report any technical problems that you find. They need to be aware of the faults in their service else those faults will simply go unfixed. And that’s a problem for us all.