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The biggest problem in web design

P: n/a
I'm thinking about so many posts I've read and answered in the past month
- here's where my brain is at. Feel free to add and comment as you see fit.

The biggest problem in web design is choosing that design before the
content is set.

Content is king. We need to set things up to display the text content. The
smart designer knows that the user might size the text any which way, so
the design needs to flex to the text size over any other consideration.
This means using ems and %'s for widths.

However, so many designers are trying to stuff content into pre-made
boxes. It doesn't fit, so they shrink the text. If the users were coming
to your site just to see your design, ok, but normally the user wants to
access the content. So what happens is that the user can't read the litle
text and you lose a visitor.

I used to work in a box factory. No kidding. We made boxes. But we made
them to the appropriate size for the product. We'd actually get the
product into the factory, we'd build a prototype, be sure it fits
properly, then write out the specs and begin the assembly line. The
customer wants a package that fits the product - he knows all the vendor's
shelves are different, so no use sizing it to them. Not once did we get an
order for a size that was determined because "it fits the shelves at
WalMart".

Why not design web sites the same way? Why assume you need to size the
package for the most common browser? Why not let the design be derived
from the product you're hawking?

The practice of having three columns and shrinking text to fit the design
is a little like making a package so tight that the product won't come
out. No one wants to buy that product. At least in the packaging industry,
by the time the customer finds out, they've already paid for the item. In
the web design industry, they have the Back button.
Jul 20 '05 #1
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4 Replies


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Neal wrote:
The biggest problem in web design is choosing that design before
the content is set.
I'm afraid that the question as worded is too vague to be easily
answered. Is security more important than visual design? Perhaps
inappropriate use of scripting is the biggest problem. Should we
consider how the non-English world sees computers and the www? If so,
then maybe charset is the biggest problem. Or the fact that the
natural language of HTML is English.

If I limit the question to visual layout, and I were granted one wish,
it might very well be for wide browser support for display: table /
table-row / table-cell support, going back several years (at least to
IE 5.x). That might have provided a more user-friendly web today. Or
maybe, as others have suggested, that HTML 3.2 never happened.
I used to work in a box factory. No kidding. We made boxes. But we
made them to the appropriate size for the product.


[snip comparison between boxes and web layout]

Interesting analogy. :-)

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #2

P: n/a
On Mon, 14 Jun 2004 23:02:27 -0400, Brian
<us*****@julietremblay.com.invalid> wrote:
Neal wrote:
The biggest problem in web design is choosing that design before
the content is set.
I'm afraid that the question as worded is too vague to be easily
answered.


I'm forced to agree...
If I limit the question to visual layout, and I were granted one wish,
it might very well be for wide browser support for display: table /
table-row / table-cell support, going back several years (at least to
IE 5.x). That might have provided a more user-friendly web today. Or
maybe, as others have suggested, that HTML 3.2 never happened.


Heh, I'm with you there. But I'm not as gung-ho about display table
properties. So many other CSS properties, if observed in IE, would make
these not as necessary. Perhaps the desire for IE to support CSS more
completely as a general wish...

But we really can't do that, can we? Not that we can easily change the
world of web design by pushing for better planning for the presentation of
content. But it's possible, somehow...
Jul 20 '05 #3

P: n/a
Neal <ne*****@yahoo.com> wrote:
The biggest problem in web design is choosing that design before the
content is set.


Your box analogy makes me think of people who can't decide what present to
get someone for some special occasion. Even if you're undecided until the
last minute, you'd never think of wrapping the present until you've decided
what it's going to be.

And yet so many web pages are (or at least, present themselves as though
they were) pretty wrapping with nothing inside. And not all of those have
the excuse of being vanity sites.

It reminds me of Tina's article comparing tsutsumi to web design:
http://www.greytower.net/en/archive/.../tsutsumi.html
--
Darin McGrew, mc****@stanfordalumni.org, http://www.rahul.net/mcgrew/
Web Design Group, da***@htmlhelp.com, http://www.HTMLHelp.com/

"I'd love to make time, if only I could find the recipe."
Jul 20 '05 #4

P: n/a
"Neal" <ne*****@yahoo.com> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
news:op**************@news.individual.net...
I'm thinking about so many posts I've read and answered in the past month
- here's where my brain is at. Feel free to add and comment as you see fit.
The biggest problem in web design is choosing that design before the
content is set.
Well the state of the art approach is actually to provide a nicely designed
set of containers where the content can be dynamically filled in and changed
by the author. Do you think this is a wrong way? ;-)
Content is king. We need to set things up to display the text content. The
smart designer knows that the user might size the text any which way, so
the design needs to flex to the text size over any other consideration.
This means using ems and %'s for widths.
I would love to agree with you here. But the biggest problem about that is
that the WWW is (not only but also) a visual medium. Nice graphics are an
essential part of a successful website, and the sizes of graphics and text
should correspond somehow. Most graphics are pixel-based, and I have not
heard of an interpolation algorithm that produces acceptable results,
specially for stuff like logos. Maybe in the future a broad and good SVG
support will make this better, but it will remain a problem.

I don't want to advertise pixel-sized text, it is just not as easy as you
make it look like.

[...]
I used to work in a box factory. No kidding. We made boxes. But we made
them to the appropriate size for the product. We'd actually get the
product into the factory, we'd build a prototype, be sure it fits
properly, then write out the specs and begin the assembly line. The
customer wants a package that fits the product - he knows all the vendor's
shelves are different, so no use sizing it to them. Not once did we get an
order for a size that was determined because "it fits the shelves at
WalMart".


Don't you remember when the CD was established? I still have boxes at home
with 3 CDs inside and a lot of plastic around them as the box was sized 30 x
30 cm for fitting in the LP shelves. And if you buy any movie on a DVD you
find it inside an oversized box that matches the VHS video shelves...

I like your analogy anyway.

--
Markus
Jul 20 '05 #5

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