[thelist] Are you designing with CSS and web standards?

Stephen Rider evolt_org at striderweb.com
Tue Mar 15 10:38:17 CST 2005

Responses to several people here...

On Mar 11, 2005, at 11:34 AM, Sarah Sweeney wrote:

>> It's a lottery whether your design will hit certain bugs; if it does, 
>> you can kiss your weekends goodbye. There are more hacks in CSS 
>> design than in table based design. How is that better for the web?
> The main difference, in my eyes, is that (with properly semantic HTML 
> in place) the CSS hacks you employ appear only once - in your CSS. 
> When you use tables for layout, the tables appear on every single page 
> in your site. Say you want to make a small change to the layout of the 
> entire site: if you've used semantic HTML and properly separated your 
> content and presentation, you only need to make a change to your CSS, 
> instead of having to change the markup of tables throughout your 
> entire site. This is where the major ROI of table-less design and 
> development comes into effect.

I think that's entirely correct.  I've been in situations where a 
client calls me to change something on an all-CSS site I did for him, 
and as he was describing it I FTP'ed in, pulled up the style sheet, and 
typed changes.  After describing several minor-but-sitewide changes he 
asked how long all this would take to do, and I replied, "It's all 
done. Hit refresh on your browser and take a look."

That was fun!  :-)
(Then danger of course is raising their expectation too high... but in 
the circumstances -- the client in that case was my brother -- I 
couldn't resist!)

Admittedly, the initial design took longer, and I went out of my way to 
polish that sucker to a high gloss, but the flexibility of that website 
today is where the return on investment comes in big time.  Between 
changing CSS and making grep search/replaces on the _very_ consistent 
HTML structure, (and a sprinkling of SSI for inserting common page 
elements), I can make wholesale changes to this large-ish site very 
quickly and easily.

The danger I suppose is that someone will hire you to do the initial 
design, and then hire someone else to make changes later -- but that is 
offset by the fact that it is a lot easier (and faster) to examine and 
understand your own code than someone else's.

Jonathan Dillon wrote:
> See, the idea of XHTML (or what we're headed towards with XML described
> languages) is actually really cool.  It will lead to machines being 
> able to
> process is discover information in ways we haven't even thought of yet.
> Imagine if the Internet was a huge meta-database, where huge data
> repositories expose massive web service engines that allow virtually
> realtime access to relevant information.  Google et al are very crude

Robert Hanson wrote:
> Consider a room full of novelists, caught up in a debate about which 
> tool -
> Word or Wordperfect or a typewriter or paper and pencil - produce the 
> best
> novel.   (hint - it's the author)  Same with the agument for/against 
> CSS.
> It is a tool to help you create your presentation, and nothing more 
> than
> than.

In the short view, Robert is right on.  In the long view, however, 
Jonathan is dead on the nose.  Before you all discount the long view in 
the name of convenience, realize that the Internet itself is the direct 
result of visionaries taking the long view.  (Isn't that the very 
definition of "visionary"?  The ability to see things that aren't 
obvious and right in front of you?)

Check this out.  An interesting effort, and on the right track, I think 
(Though we have differences of opinion on data redundancy issues)


Amy Johnson wrote:
>  I've done my last three sites in pure CSS.  But it is a pain!
> It takes so long to get them looking the same across all the platforms
> (especially Macs).

The problem was, they never _did_ look the same in all browsers.  
(especially Macs).  How often did you see broken pieces of side borders 
pushed out by a paragraph or graphic?  I saw it All the Time in the bad 
old days.  "Best Viewed in This"  "Best Viewed in That".  UGH.

Today when I see a website designed that sloppily, I question the 
professionalism of the organization.  With CSS designs sometimes look a 
bit different from browser to browser; but with tables, they too often 
just looked _broken_.  Like the website had been dropped or something 
-- shattered.

It's more up front work usually, but I'm never going back.


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