You spend time and money to make your website look good to your visitors and compatible with current browsers. Then along comes a new device or browser and you start all over again. It’s time for Web designers to stop writing bloated code and pay a lot more attention to Web Standards.
In his excellent book “designing with web standards”, Jeffrey Zeldman hits the nail on the head when he states 99.9% of Websites are obsolete. In fact it surprises me how many web professionals remain some of the worst offenders, still designing new sites for their clients the same way they did several years ago. Even some of the most established web design firms own websites can fail when used in standards compliant browsers such as Mozilla Firefox.
Today’s websites need to be lean and well designed
Today’s websites need to be lean, well designed, comply with industry standards and guidelines and provide you with future-proofing built-in. Limesharp web designs are always based on global Cascading Style Sheets and XHTML mark-up. What this means is that we use layers not tables for core layout, and the formatting of your content (i.e. the font size) is controlled by a linked style sheet, which tells the browser how to display the text. Should it be necessary to change the font size used, a simple and quick change of the style sheet rule is all that’s required to automatically update every single web page. Consider how long that would take in a table based design using font tags where you would have to update the code on every page and instance!
It’s changing but most websites are still tables based
Let’s consider the trusted table used for page layout for example. Many designers continue to use these to carefully place sliced graphics and content on the web page. To achieve the desired result images are sliced up to fit each cell and tables are nested inside other tables. Each table cell requires its own mark-up code to tell the browser what size the cell is, how content is positioned and many include inline tags such as font to control typeface. Every web page is then deployed in the same manner and the result is web pages that are double or triple the size they should be, gobbling up bandwidth, are slow to load for your visitors and difficult to update without yet another re-write. Of course, as more and more ISP’s start to charge for downloading data by the megabyte there is also the question of future cost.
Of course, we’re not saying tables should never be used. Indeed, they are exactly the right choice for holding tabular data, the purpose for which they were originally designed. To see just how many sites use tables just go to any website you like and then right-click with you mouse on the page, from the options pop-up window choose “view source” and take a look. Its not difficult to see which sites are well designed and which are bloated with hard to understand spaghetti code.
If you would like to gain a more detailed understanding of web standards visit www.webstandards.org or the www.w3c.org. And if you have an real interest in designing websites yourself we strongly suggest you pick up a copy of the book “designing with web standards ” available from www.amazon.co.uk.
About Jeffrey Zeldman
Jeffrey Zeldman is amongst the best-known designers in the world. In 1998, Zeldman co-founded The Web Standards Project that encouraged both Microsoft and Netscape to support the same browser technologies.