Something New

20 Dec

A recent air (no doubt partially influenced by the year end) in the standards community sees a number of influential members of the international design community identifying something amiss in the community. Well, not amiss exactly, but maybe absent.

Molly E. Holzschlag has reported back from Web Design World 2004 on how well the conference went but notes how there are several key areas of concern that need addressing.

Unless you’re among the fortunate (and growing) group of web designers that have never had to build a web site using tables, it seems that it’s been very difficult for all of us to begin thinking outside of them. Having worked with tables for layout for the majority of my web career, it’s proving to be quite difficult to get past thinking in such restrictive terms. I’m wondering what ideas other folks might have in terms of breaking out of the tabular approach from a mental standpoint. There’s no doubt that when we get past this barrier, and are armed with a fair amount of CSS knowledge, that we can do much more progressive work.

This is a direct quote regarding the use of tables for layout but the whole article is riddled with concerns about a number of key concepts of modern web design.

Over on Derek Featherstone’s A Box of Chocolates in a recent article on the wider subject, Derek says;

There are still a lot of developers out there that don’t know how to build sites any other way than with font tags, spacer gifs and multiple nested tables. Why? Two reasons: they don’t know any other way (after all, these old methods are what they grew up with – it is what they know, just as we know web standards and would have a difficult time going back to old school methods), and there aren’t enough good resources on doing things the “right” way.

So we seem to have a situation wherein the small minority of designers are on board re: web standards/accessibility/usability/branding/etc and the sites they are producing reflect this ethos. By contrast there is a sizeable majority who, for whatever reason (quite probably the reason Derek Featherstone gives – a lack of resources) are doing things the old fashioned way. This, in my opinion, is one of those times when retro ain’t so good.

All this is to say that I’ve decided to go some way to redressing the balance and start producing a series of articles about all things web design that are aimed at the new or inexperienced designer. The articles will be bundled together under the (tentative) title ‘Project: New’ and will be available online and as PDF/DOC downloads. I’m thinking of doing approx 5 in depth articles every month to complete a syllabus of work. I’m aiming to start at the very very bottom and keep things simple to start with. Giving a good grounding in not only web standards but also looking at developing an eye for design, using good tools, sourcing quality imagery, dealing with clients nd understanding the medium in which web designers work.

My next step is to produce a syllabus which I’ll post for discussion when its done.

One Response to “Something New”

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  1. Zepfanman Blog - December 20, 2004

    Web standards, usability, and accessibility
    Web standards and the terms that go with it are unknown to too many people. This post is an effort to explain how and why we need to be designing better web sites.

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