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Fragmented Development

Design and Standards

One of the things I've been doing as of late involves subscribing to the RSS feed of any sites I find in my travels - that is, any feeds I think might provide insight or intelligence. One of the sites I've stumbled upon is Design Meltdown, a design-heavy web site that showcases good design by category (colors, design techniques, genres of page, etc). I'm trying to improve my design skills, so this gives me some creative fat to chew.

Another thing it's given me is a cross-selection of the good graphical designs on the web. This usually includes a lot of extremely bad technical choices: flash-only sites, monster downloads, table layouts, and more overly image-based sites than you can shake a stick at. Now I understand that some design schools incorporate being a prick about micro-managing your type into every site design class, but seriously. The content of your site does not need every word, every line properly kerned. Leave the text content rendering to the browser/OS and the user. I might like to read in 32 pt Courier, and who are you to tell me otherwise? Locking me into your artistic vision takes away my right to view content how I please, and at that point that's not a web site – that's you, gratifying yourself, in my web browser.

But I digress. While I've seen a lot of crappy web sites that just happen to look beautiful (If you're using a major browser, on broadband, with all plugins enabled, with 20/20 vision), I've also seen a tremendous rise in the presence of extremely well programmed, standardized sites. Not only have these sites incorporated stunning visuals and excellent design techniques common to sites created by people who have a background in art, but the code has obviously been put together by someone that is extremely proficient with standardized CSS and HTML. An excellent example of this can be found in Big Square Dot.

The Big Square Dot page is extremely well designed, but just happens to validate as standard XHTML 1.0 transitional. There are a lot of div tags involved, but the complexity of their layout warrants that. Besides, I'm of the school of thought where some non-semantic markup is necessary to overcome shortcomings in current CSS implementations. Also, all of the HTML inside the div tags are semantic, so there are no problems in my opinion.

This kind of page gives me hope that the web design field is progressing in the right direction. After years, standards are finally catching on and making their way to the design side of the fence. Thanks to the improved rendering in newer IE versions and wider adoption of other standards-compliant browsers, it may be a trend that continues to take hold. Good news for all net citizens!

Tags: css html

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