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OT: Browser troubles and overdesigned web pages (was Re: Where does everyone live?)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Monday, November 7, 2005, 18:51

taliesin the storyteller wrote:

> * R A Brown said on 2005-11-06 08:46:21 +0100 > > * Henrik Theiling wrote: > > > What's the big problem about designing pages that are at > > > least visible in all browsers? *shakes head* > > > > I've more than once spent considerable trying to get things to behave > > more or less the same way in different browsers on my Mac only to > > discover when I view the pages on my wife's PC running Windows XP that > > at least one browser - usually IE - mangles the thing :=( > > > > What's the big problem with the browser designers getting them all to > > read read code in a similar way? *shakes head* > > <rant> > Ah, but you see, there are two standards. One de jure, which is defined > to painstaking detail by, the other de facto, defined by however > Internet Explorer behaves this week. The former changes slowly, the > latter each time Microsoft releases a new patch. The former can be > learnt by reading the w3c's standards, the latter by reading the w3c's > standards, implementing them and then see what does and doesn't work. > Simple, really.
Well put.
> However, the real problem is not Microsoft. The real problem is the > attitude is "What I the designer see is what everybody ought to see." > Why is this so hilariously wrong? Simple: You can never know in advance > whether the content you are prettifying will be read by another > designer, a real human, a program, a blind person, or a dog, on a tv, a > cellphone, a monitor, by lights blinking morse code or in some fashion > not invented yet. The most important of these is beeing readable for > programs, if a page is not, it will not be indexed by search engines, > thus be invisible and for some people (say, fanatic Wikipedians) this > means the page in question does not exist. Programs can't see the pretty > colors and the nifty left-aligned flash-scrollbar at all.
Yes. Many web pages are ridiculously overdesigned. They are examples of what is called "putting on one's trousers with a pair of pincers", i.e. doing something in an overly complicated and misguidedly sophisticated way. Those web designers use JavaScript, style sheets, Flash and hundreds of tricks not because it makes sense, but merely because they want to show that they can do all that. Bummer. Load a page? <a href="page.html"> is waaaay to ordinary for those folks, they invoke a javascript for that purpose.
> What to do? Simplify. It's not the wrapping, it's the message. Use > Occam's razor. Cut until there's nothing left that can be cut. Ignore > the desire for pixel perfection. The lovely red won't be red and lovely > for the large amount of color-blind people out there anyway. > </rant>
Yep. Keep it simple.
> Now, I won't claim that my pages are perfect, I know that the frontpage > is all wrong for the color-blind for instance, and font-sizes vary like > crazy. The Taruven-pages can't even be read comfortably on extremely > small screens because the examples are set in <pre>-tags. BUT: Strip > away all the colors and effects and it's only the color-coded examples > that lose information. (I'm still working on how to improve the encoding > of examples in (x)HTML.) I used to test *all* my html in Lynx, because > if it looks good in Lynx, it'll be readable everywhere, but currently > Lynx seems to have a problem with UTF8.
Yes. Test your page in every browser you can get your hands on, not forgetting the old clunkers. If Lynx can make sense of your page, you probably did a good job. If it doesn't, try again. There's nothing wrong with style sheets and other stuff to prettify your pages, but they should work without. Greetings, Jörg.


Larry Sulky <larrysulky@...>
R A Brown <ray@...>