CEO at Econsultancy
30 October 2000 20:01pm
I have long thought that designers could do more using just HTML as a design tool rather than only graphics. There are clear advantanges in using as much HTML as possible as opposed to image files: principally that it is much easier to update and that it downloads quicker.
I suspect the problem is that many designers do not know enough HTML to know what is possible. I think every designer should learn HTML. For that matter, so should every producer / project manager. There's no such thing as learning cross-browser compatibility lessons the hard way...
I'm not a designer but I have imagined the great Mondrian-esque designs that are possible using the grid structures that HTML imposes. Seldom have I seen this done as well as I think it could be, however.
I thought I had found an example of 'designing with HTML' at 2Cs' web site at http://www.2cs.com/ only to find that what appeared to be HTML table designs were in fact a giant background image.
Has anyone seen any really effective web design which uses predominantly HTML to create the effect?
Director of User Experience at Isotoma
01 November 2000 17:48pm
It is tempting to dig out troves of favourite URLs tangentially relevant to this question, but I've restricted myself to just two:
1. Shock! Our own government embraces website accessibility (which in essence boils down to using HTML the way it was meant to be used) to its full extent and actually does a sterling job. Visit the WAI-AAA rated
Related to your recommendation for designers to learn HTML, Ashley, is that all designers should also learn CSS. The starting point is
but there's no shortage of resources on the web.
Creative Director at Agenda Solutions
03 November 2000 13:41pm
Having spent the last two weeks using a 56k modem and therefore reacquainted myself with the vast majority of UK surfers, this thread is suddenly more relevant.
Using CSS allows designers to create complex layouts specifying absolute positioning, colours, type, lines and border styles without using images producing a dramatic reduction in file sizes. This e-consultancy site has only 4 images: the coloured ‘lozenges’ and the e-consultancy header and should (hopefully) be extremely quick for you.
My less than extensive search methods (I ran through my bookmarks) uncovered no noticeable use of CSS as a creative, bandwidth-saving design resource amongst known brands and agenncies. Of course I suddenly had trouble with plenty of sites at the other end of the bandwidth spectrum - step forward www.badboyonline.com , I wonder how many 15 year old Homeboys actually have a T1 connection?
The tasteful www.37signals.com was the closest I could find to an agency using intelligent design structures to make the most of simple HTML layouts albeit without pushing HTML/CSS boundaries. Incidentally, it also makes content the king, which is something many others would do well to follow.
03 November 2000 13:53pm
I'm still rambling.....
The design of www.37signals.com for me brings up a broader but related issue:
"Design versus file size is as much about creative thought processes as use of technology."
Often it comes back to design fundamentals: typography, composition, grid structures and good old fashioned ‘thought’ (or if that sounds too old fashioned for your clients then replace it with a buzzword – ideation!?!)
The wonderful swiss typographer Josef Muller-Brockmann stated:
"What is simple should be treated simply, what is difficult should be reduced to the simplest terms."
We as ‘new-media’ creatives often need to create visual impact DESPITE an economy of means whereas designers such as Josef Muller-Brockmann, Paul Rand, and Saul Bass created visual impact BECAUSE they worked with an economy of means. If we spent more time studying the past and less time jumping on the latest bland-wagon maybe our work wouldn’t need 200k and a help page to build a ‘user-experience’. But that’s a whole new thread…
03 November 2000 15:01pm
I suspect one sees more good CSS than one thinks, but like many good things usability-wise, when it's good you don't notice it.
While CSS is indeed the holy grail to finally separate style from content, its inadequate support so far makes it impossible to fully exploit that potential. Most notably, we're still stuck with using <table> for layout for backward-compatibility, or until support for CSS layers become foolproof.
Again I want to point to A List Apart for both good opinion and good example (any person getting started with CSS can do worse than saving and studying alistapart.com's style sheets).
Read the excellent 4-part series "Fear of style sheets"
This week's issue, interestingly, has an article on "skinning" websites, which deals extensively with CSS and contains some great links, for example, on the subject of minimal design,
Anyone interested in what's the matter with browser's poor CSS supported is advised to check out the Web Standards Project (same founder as A List Apart)
(also lovely design)
and to balance the debate,
Finally, CSS support on various browsers and platforms is best summarised (to my knowledge) on Webreview:
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