[Grok-dev] Re: [website] Let's do content!

Tres Seaver tseaver at palladion.com
Tue Jan 1 00:53:32 EST 2008

Hash: SHA1

Sebastian Ware wrote:
> 31 dec 2007 kl. 19.28 skrev Tres Seaver:
>> Hash: SHA1
>> Sebastian Ware wrote:
>>> 31 dec 2007 kl. 17.23 skrev Tres Seaver:
>>>> Hash: SHA1
>>>> Sebastian Ware wrote:
>>>>> Also, I wonder if you could add a width to the content of the front
>>>>> page. The lines run too long, the original design was set to  
>>>>> "width:
>>>>> 540px".
>>>> - -1 to any absolute (pixel) widths for columns containing text:   
>>>> they
>>>> make it impossible to work with the content at different text sizes.
>>>> Making the content readable is more important than making the design
>>>> pretty (I have this disagreement with the desginer on nearly every
>>>> project I work on).
>>>> Tres.
>>> The main reason to use pixel widths is because one often has images
>>> that are fixed pixel widths that would look wierd if the width
>>> changes. Your route requires more work but I agree with you in
>>> principal.
>> Fixed-width banner images are an evil, but one which must sometimes be
>> tolerated.  Nonetheless, having them dictate width for text columns
>> leads to poor a user experience.
> I am not talking about banner images (you will find that the Grok  
> website banner image scales fine :) ), but if you have images  
> integrated in text that they will tend to be limited. Avoiding this  
> has a cost.
>>> But I am having difficulties believing that your designer would  
>>> rather
>>> have a pretty site than a readable site... unless he is a complete
>>> moron... ;)
>> In my experience, most designers don't test their pages on any machine
>> other than their own, or with any text size other than the default,
>> which they almost inevitably set in absolute sizes which are too  
>> small.
> This would never happen in Sweden, allthough testing on many different  
> machines is a pain and pain kills design. That is why Flash is so  
> popular.

There is a negative network effect in play:  some sites began shrinking
the font size for "aesthetic" reasons, which then let browser makers
(IE, notoriously) to offset by making the default default size larger.

Any designer who specifies absolute font sizes, rather than using sizes
relative to the users' preferred default, contributes to this problem.

>> As a result, the sites look like shite, or are unreadable, on any
>> machine which has different screen resolution, or where the user has
>> configured a realistic default font size.  Making them fix this is
>> inevitably a fight;  whether that means they are morons I leave as an
>> exercise for the reader. ;)
> You will find the same problem even on badly designed websites. It is  
> more a problem of the implementaion of HTML-specs than that of stupid  
> designers. The more different platforms you need to test on, the more  
> time needs to be spent on design.

Trying too hard to maintain absolute control over every aspect of the
layout exacerbates the problem.

>> The shining exceptions do exist, and I try hard to praise them to the
>> rest of their teams, especially to their bosses.
> True, but that said, good design isn't about pleasing everybody.  
> Usability isn't about pleasing everybody. The iPhone drew a lot of  
> flak from those used to other interface paradigms (physical keyboards  
> anyone...). Apple users don't like the Windows user interface.  
> Usability as well as design requires trade-offs. The problem is that  
> if you dissect design it sometimes turns into nothing.

My experience is that most designers tend to want to control *all*
aspects of the page, including may which cannot be controlled absolutely
while retaining broad usability.  Absolute font size is the most obvious
culprit;  fixed- pixel-width columns are another.  In both cases,
overcontrolling these aspects reduces usability in the name of improving

The web is hard to design for, certainly: one of the things which has to
be traded away is the kind of absolute control that print gives, in
favor of allowing flexibility / adaptibility.

- --
Tres Seaver          +1 540-429-0999          tseaver at palladion.com
Palladion Software   "Excellence by Design"    http://palladion.com
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