AMG = Ack! My God!

By on July 15, 2004

The All-Music Guide has long had a pretty irritating web site. The design rendered poorly in non-IE browsers, almost all of the links were javascript-driven for no apparent reason, etc. So, when they recently redesigned, you’d expect them to fix these problems, right?

No such luck. The new design not only has most of the same problems as the old, but it was completely unusable on all browsers except IE. If you went to the site without IE, it would post a big grouchy message at the top of the page explaining that the site wouldn’t work. Classy. Any Baio over at took delicious umbrance to the inexplicable craziness:

The problems aren’t limited to display bugs. The URLs are worse than before, now so long that they can’t be sent by e-mail. Biographies, discographies and album reviews are no longer a single page, so you’re forced to click through to multiple pages to view the content you want. And the site’s slower than ever, and I’m periodically getting server timeouts and connection delay error messages. (Oh, and the spinning Flash navigation is a waste of space.)

AMG responded to waxy’s (and others’) criticisms with what might be construed as a less than consumer friendly letter:

We’ve been on the net since 1995 providing a free music reference resource. We would hope that we’ve earned a little patience from our users as we work through the transition to the new site and some of the difficulties we’re experiencing. We’re a small company with small company resources.


Optimizing a site of allmusic’s complexity and size for all browsers and operating systems is no small feat. This isn’t a simple ‘brochure-ware’ site of static pages. While we would love to optimize the AMG sites for all browsers and all operating systems, we simply don’t have the necessary resources to do so.

Seems to me like the time spent making all the links powered by some kind of crazy javascript could have been better spent just writing a compliant CSS site. I’m a staff of one on a lot of projects, and it really doesn’t take me very long to create a site that renders passably across the board. To add insult to injury, Tim Murtaugh created the exact same design, only in tasty, goes-down-smooth CSS, in a mere two hours, just to show it could be done. I’m sure that the AMG folks had a lot of content management to deal with, and that complicates things, but it’s the output of the page that matters in the end, not making concessions for the sake of the CMS.

AMG has spent their time since launch frantically fixing rendering errors in order to get a decent display on all platforms (things are much better now than when they started). Moral of the story? The days of IE-only web sites are drawing to a close. Also, CSS is your friend.



  1. I just went there using Firefox on the Mac, and everything looks and works fine.

    Not defending their use of javascript vs CSS, but it does “look” OK for me.

  2. They’ve cleaned up a lot of items in the past few days. On launch day, the site was completely unusable in Firefox due to things being way out of position. I get the feeling that there has been quite a bit of frantic work to make things behave better.

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