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  1. #1
    SitePoint Member Abhoth's Avatar
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    Design & Cross-Browser Compatability...

    Thought I'd share a little blurb I found on the net from a gentleman named Lance Arthur, give credit where credit is due ya know! I found him out there some time back and in the course of reading through his site, Glass Dog , I learned much and laughed a great deal. The guy is totally whacked and very bright.

    "Designing for the Web offers as many contrasts as similarities to designing for other media.

    Since my background in this field stems solely from this platform, my opinions are based on observation rather than experience, just so we all know where the focus is pointed.

    Web Design originates from a field of limitations. Seeing this as a challenge to be overcome instead of a wall of invulnerability may sound like one of those motivational posters that middle managers rely upon, but it applies. The demons that plague you once you've settled on the One True Design for your project, whatever it may be, mean you must create perfection... then set about destroying it while attempting to hold onto the best parts of what you've created.

    Let's name those demons, since they seem to be intent on sticking close by in the visible future.

    Platform Issues: A Mac renders type smaller than a PC. PCs have different default fonts than Macs. Unix has no default fonts. Macs display colors "washed out", while PCs display them "super saturated". And so on.
    Browser Issues: Netscape owns JavaScript, so Microsoft is always one release behind. Microsoft owns JScript and VBScript and ActiveX, none of which work on Netscape. Nobody owns Java. Plug-ins are necessary for some functionality. Netscape inserts random pixel spacing within table cells, frames and documents. Microsoft does not. Microsoft does not require closing tags for most HTML code. Netscape does. Microsoft (almost) fully supports cascading style sheets, version 1. Netscape partially supports it. Microsoft added CSS filters. Netscape added JavaScript CSS. HTML tag capabilities can change from release to release (i.e. using colorname rather than hexadecimal values). And so on.
    User Issues: Users can randomly select screen resolution and color depth. You cannot guaranty what anyone's screen is going to display. Users may turn off Java and JavaScript support. You cannot guaranty that page effects based on these function will appear even on browsers that support them. Some users refuse to visit sites that use frames on principle. Other users have browsers that cannot support frames. Or that cannot support images. And so on.
    Accessibility Issues: Blind users cannot view your pages and rely on "readers" that transcribe screen text audibly. They cannot negotiate frames. They do not see any images that includes text unless you also place that text in the image's ALT tag. Audio interpreters can vocally emphasize words that use <EM>, but not <I>. Lynx users also cannot view images. They can maneuver through frames, but they have no idea what's inside them until they move their browser into them. Older viewers may require a larger font size than that designed in order to read your page, potentially throwing off your layout scheme. Some printers attempt to print white text but cannot print dark backgrounds so that the user ends up with a blank page. And so on.
    There are always new demons popping up, and for some reason the old ones never seem to disappear. Leaving you, as a Web Designer, with three choices: Account for all the demons by assembling multiple versions of your pages for differing browsers and platforms; Accept that you won't be able to allow the entire potential audience to see the site as designed and make adjustments to allow minimal access to content (i.e. text-only versions); Do exactly what you want without compromise, thereby alienating some portion of your audience for sure and dealing with flame mail and repeated questions about why you page looks like **** until the next redesign.

    This, then, is Web Design.

    Identifying the demons is only the first part. Becoming friends with them, ah that's the challenge. Web Design is a frustrating business because there are so many variables. And I really think we deserve to be paid more to deal with all of them, don't you? Perhaps you should start a lobbying effort in Congress. I'd do it, but who has time?

    See, once you've got everything all nice and set up, someone will send in an email explaining that they couldn't see this one featuire on this one page and suddenly you're up **** Creek - or I should say you're further up **** Creek. A lot of how successful you'll be depends on your client as well. How much leeway they give you, how much trust they have in you and what sort of allowances they'll make will either put you in development heaven or hell. There is no in-between. You've got to establish up front who the audience is, what the purpose of the site is and then convince the client to leave you alone until you've got something to show.

    And good luck with that, Pilgrim, because in this business, everybody's a critic.

    But enough crap about clients, we're talking design, right?"

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard
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    A very nice piece of text, thanks for sharing .

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy blufive's Avatar
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    But it's a bit out-of-date in places - Just to pick one:

    > Microsoft (almost) fully supports cascading style sheets,
    > version 1. Netscape partially supports it.

    Netscape 4.x : crappy CSS1 support
    Netscape 6.x : very good CSS1 support, partial CSS2 support.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Member Abhoth's Avatar
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    True story, but when it comes to computer hardware & software I'd have to say it's all outdated several days after creation. Move forward we do.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I don't mind it being out of date, I like the general message that it conveys. It is just one more example that shows that it is worthwhile and possible to try and offer support for as many visitors as possible.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Member Abhoth's Avatar
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    Yup, does get tiring now and again with all the little browser wars... But it's nice that more tools are available to make some of the 'little' things easier.

  7. #7
    Super Ninja Monkey Travis's Avatar
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    *imagines a perfect world*
    There is one set of rules to webdesign. Everyone uses the same resolution and color depth. All the browsers render pages the exact same way.
    *wakes up and realizes that will never happen*
    Travis Watkins - Hyperactive Coder
    My Blog: Realist Anew
    Projects: Alacarte - Gnome Menu Editor

  8. #8
    SitePoint Member Abhoth's Avatar
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    Cool

    Oh my no! That would not be perfect! Very little fun in that at all...

  9. #9
    Super Ninja Monkey Travis's Avatar
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    Yeah its fun getting your site to work in 640x480 256-color with Netscape 4.08 (or somewhere around there) and look really good with the newer stuff too.
    Travis Watkins - Hyperactive Coder
    My Blog: Realist Anew
    Projects: Alacarte - Gnome Menu Editor

  10. #10
    SitePoint Member Abhoth's Avatar
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    Not certain I'd go quite that far.... 800 x 600 is the lowest I work for.... for the others. Well, they need an upgrade.

  11. #11
    Non-Member Forlorn's Avatar
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    I didnt like what he said about the colors on the mac and a pc. The PC is like super light while the mac is super dark but those are easily fixed.

    When designing any web page esp for clients just find out what their target market is. See if their target market uses macs or pcs. That should tell you enough how what colors to use and what type of fonts to use

  12. #12
    Non-Member Forlorn's Avatar
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    Me I still work at some websites at 640*480

    I know people who run their resolution at 800x600 still

    Originally posted by Abhoth
    Not certain I'd go quite that far.... 800 x 600 is the lowest I work for.... for the others. Well, they need an upgrade.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Member Abhoth's Avatar
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    First question to answer no matter what field... writer, designer, journalist, whatever.... "Know your audience"
    Always the first question I ask myself for many instances.


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