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  1. #1
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    Mobile First? Hah! Mobile last (Fail)

    I thought I was redesigning a site responsively. I thought I was designing mobile-first, but that was all in my head. Now my site is broken in mobiles. Perhaps I shouldn't have let my bosses pressure me so much about deadlines that I didn't take to the time to test in mobile as I went. Perhaps I was just being sloppy or lazy. I dunno.

    The big monster was a suckerfish menu. The site almost could have been rolled over to mobie with a few media queries if it hadn't been for that. The trouble was, the menu is jQuery-based. Script tell the nested unordered list what levels to show and hide. Hell, I thought, when I roll it out to mobile, I'll just make the top-level visible--no problem! But so much of the site is hidden in those other levels, and there is no other way to access them except from the submenus, that I am surely hamstringing my site by cutting them. What am I to do?

    I thought about making an accordion script for the submenus (you know: click on the main list item, then the sub list slides out.) But that would conflict with the desktop script, right? Is it possible to assign a completely different script to a page if it is viewed in mobie?

    I really don't want to go about making new, mobile versions of each page (see first paragraph.) Is this really my only alternative?

    Nobody is complaining. My boss views everything on his iPhone and he has only praise for my new design, and our mobile user base is only about 15%. Should I just take this as a lesson learned and just be sure not to be suckered into suckerfish menus from now on?

    What's your experience?

  2. #2
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    One possibility is to have the relevant submenu always visible. So let's say that whenever you're on a page within the 'Products' section, the 'Products' submenu is visible on screen below the main menu. That needs no scripting, and has great accessibility/usability benefits as well. Essentially it means that there is always a way to access sub-menu items without the need to use pop-up menus (whether script-based or :hover-based).

  3. #3
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    It's why I stopped doing dropdown navigations on websites altogether, and instead use classic drill-down. You go to a section, the section has intro text for the section and links down one side... There are a lot of things people do in web "designs" (yes, making quotes in the air with my fingers) that are NOT compatible with fluid layouts, displays of certain sizes, and therein when you try to expand on those existing concepts with the so called 'responsive' layouts the whole thing falls apart miserably. Some of it is simply "But I can do it in photoshop" idiocy, but even more of it can be attributed to "gee ain't it neat" nonsense like goofy animated sections, image rotators, flash content, dropdown menus, and other garbage that in general makes the page slower, less useful, and throws the very concept of accessibility in the trash.

    Many times things like dropdown menus are useless to navigate, and I swear that like a lot of AJAX and DHTML content can be attributed to this rampant nonsensical paranoia of 'pageloads are evil' -- where people will use these techniques to avoid page loads "saving bandwidth" and end up chewing twice the bandwidth in the long run.

  4. #4
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    Yaknow!

    The longer I work, the more I learn what deathshadow80 has said--the hard way. I started out as a slice-&-dice designer back in the table days. I was lucky to hook up with programmers patient enough to show me some of the errors in my ways; I haven't been so lucky evangelizing their ideas to other designers.

    I hope you understand the pressure some of us designers are in to swallow our ideals. I swear to God, the Art Director of this project wanted each page to be a separate PDF, all linked together, simply because he wanted the site to look exactly as it in print as it did in his Firefox. The President of the company added that he wanted that cool page-curl swipe like you see on iPod magazine apps. And guess who got the stinkeye and criticism for not being a "team player" when these follies were called unfeasible!?

    Instead of making this a "client from hell" thread, I just want to emphasize what kind of pressure we front-end guys can be up against, and why we sometimes cut corners and do these weird things. The navigation menu was my idea, but it was a return to normalcy somewhat. I honestly thought it would not be a big deal, but I was very wrong.

    But Stevie D's suggestion is a great one--that I never even considered. I think I can style the CSS so that the submenu only shows up on the specific sub-pages. Hopefully, the jQuery that I used won't add any inline CSS to blow things apart.

    Thanks so much for your support & suggestions!

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    How many levels/depths are there?
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.

  6. #6
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    I stopped doing dropdown navigations on websites altogether, and instead use classic drill-down.
    Yep, much better, more logical and more accessible, IMHO.

    Quote Originally Posted by TMacFarlane View Post
    the Art Director of this project wanted each page to be a separate PDF, all linked together, simply because he wanted the site to look exactly as it in print as it did in his Firefox. The President of the company added that he wanted that cool page-curl swipe like you see on iPod magazine apps. And guess who got the stinkeye and criticism for not being a "team player" when these follies were called unfeasible!?
    Feelin' for ya, dude.

  7. #7
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    @oddz ; The depths range from one to three. However, in the cases of a third level, there is a separate link set in a sidebar.
    Last edited by TheRaptor; May 16, 2012 at 13:22. Reason: fixed mention

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TMacFarlane
    I just want to emphasize what kind of pressure we front-end guys can be up against, and why we sometimes cut corners and do these weird things.
    Geez man, guess it's never easy. At the moment (not making this a client from hell thread either) I am dealing with somebody who I am trying to convince them a word document is not a website, and how it's not 'easy' to code a website, and it takes far longer than a couple of days to do right.
    I really don't want to go about making new, mobile versions of each page (see first paragraph.) Is this really my only alternative?
    I think so, sometimes it's best to take a quick short-cut until you build a stronger knowledge base.
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by TMacFarlane View Post
    @oddz ; The depths range from one to three. However, in the cases of a third level, there is a separate link set in a sidebar.

    Here is something I threw together as proof of concept for managing two tiers with drop downs because I myself have been thinking of better ways to do this without using the app like approach of separate pages for each depth. This uses the mobile first approach and *should properly work on everything besides <IE7. It uses the technique here for the desktop drop downs. Again this is a proof of concept only having been tested on chrome, IE8 and ff.

    Example

    You will need to view the example on a desktop and mobile device to compare. This is done so that media queries in the style sheet are avoided to support <=IE9 without repeating CSS. Though the styles inside menu_enhanced CSS could very easily be moved to menu.css to be responsive.

    index.html
    HTML Code:
    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <html>
    <head>
    	<title>Mobile Nested Menu 2 Tier Proof Of Concept</title>
    	<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
    	<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no">
    	
    	<!-- default mobile -->
    	<link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" href="menu.css" media="screen">
    	
    	<!-- enhanced desktop/tablet -->
    	<link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" href="menu_enhanced.css" media="screen and (min-device-width:500px)">
    	<!--[if lt IE 9]>
    	<link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" media="screen" href="menu_enhanced.css">  
    	<![endif]-->
    	
    </head>
    <body>
    
    	<ul class="menu">
    		<li id="item-1"><a href="#item-1">One</a>
    			<ul>
    				<li><a href="#">One - 1</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">One - 2</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">One - 3</a></li>
    			</ul>
    		</li>
    		<li id="item-2"><a href="#item-2">Two</a>
    			<ul>
    				<li><a href="#">Two - 1</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">Two - 2</a></li>
    			</ul>
    		</li>
    		<li id="item-3"><a href="#item-3">Three</a>
    			<ul>
    				<li><a href="#">Three - 1</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">Three - 2</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">Three - 3</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">Three - 4</a></li>
    			</ul>
    		</li>
    		<li id="item-4"><a href="#item-4">Four</a>
    			<ul>
    				<li><a href="#">Four - 1</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">Four - 2</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">Four - 3</a></li>
    				<li><a href="#">Four- 4</a></li>
    			</ul>
    		</li>
    	</ul>
    
    </body>
    </html>
    menu.css
    Code CSS:
    body,html {
    	margin: 0;
    	padding: 0;
    }
     
    ul {
    	list-style: none;
    	margin: 0;
    	padding: 0;
    }
     
    .menu  li {
    	margin: 0;
    	padding: 0;
    	border-bottom: 1px dotted #ccc;
    }
     
    .menu li ul {
    	display: none;
    }
     
    .menu a {
    	display: block;
    	background-color: black;
    	text-decoration: none;
    	color: white;
    	font-family: sans-serif;
    	padding: .5em;
    }
     
    .menu li li a {
    	background-color: #ccc;
    	color: black;
    }
     
    .menu li:target ul {
    	display: block;
    }
     
    .menu li li {
    	border-top: 1px solid black;
    }
     
    .menu li ul li:first-child {
    	border-top: none;
    }

    menu_enhanced.css
    Code CSS:
    .menu {
    	float: left;
    	width: 100%;
    	background-color: black;
    }
     
    .menu li {
    	position:relative;
    	float:left;
    	overflow: hidden;
    	height: 32px;
    	border-bottom: none;
    	border-right: 1px solid #ccc;
    }
     
    .menu li:hover {
    	overflow:visible;
    }
     
    .menu li ul {
    	list-style:none;
    	position:absolute;
    	left: 0;
    	top: 32px;
    	width: 6em;
    	text-align:center;
    }
     
    .menu li li ul {
    	top:0;
    	margin-left: 0;
    }
     
    .menu li ul {
    	display: block;
    }
     
    .menu ul li a {
    	width: 5em;
    }
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TMacFarlane View Post
    I hope you understand the pressure some of us designers are in to swallow our ideals. I swear to God, the Art Director of this project wanted each page to be a separate PDF, all linked together, simply because he wanted the site to look exactly as it in print as it did in his Firefox. The President of the company added that he wanted that cool page-curl swipe like you see on iPod magazine apps. And guess who got the stinkeye and criticism for not being a "team player" when these follies were called unfeasible!?
    Sounds like a client I dumped six months ago... I was being nice and continuing to support them despite my being 'retired' from doing work for others for around 6 years. They hired me on for a new project under this new "project manager" who was micromanaging it so far into the grave with idiotic nonsense like what you described, that I finally blew up and screamed at him over the phone "You think you can do this better you {expletive omitted} do it, otherwise what the {expletive omitted} did you hire me for?".

    The laugh is, last month one of the owners called me up hat in hand asking for help, since their traffic had dropped 80% and it was suddenly choking out a dual Core 2 era Xeon, when I was comfortably hosting off a P4D with half the RAM... I said "Well, did you fire that new project manager?" Uhm... no, why would we?

    *CLICK*

    There isn't enough money to make me work with people like that anymore. I'd RATHER flip burgers than put up with these people who to be frank, SHOULD BE flipping burgers. "Oh, I have a degree in media arts" -- doesn't mean you know jack about the Internet buddo. But again, I'm of the opinion that degrees in IT related fields aren't worth a sheet of bog roll.

  11. #11
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    @deathshadow60 ;

    Unfortunately it's hard to set clients straight, but we have to. We have to learn the art to give them the information to understand that things aren't easy. I mostly work from home, does this mean I should work for free? Hardly!

    We have to explain how hard things are, and why doing things a certain way will affect them. You have to understand you have your business structure, any other structure is counter productive to the way you run things, it's as simple as that!

    Clients defining their own business structure will be counter productive. We are not slaves, and we're not servants, our job is one of the highest paid jobs on the planet, and we deserve some recognition.

    This is what I do, I pretend to listen to the way they work, and continuously re-enforce my own business structure without being negative or mad, explaining to them that it's not possible to do what they want. Often referring to the money involved. Money talks, and if you give a cheaper better alternative people always seam to get off their ego trips and go with you. If I still can't convince them I let them know politely they will have an issue in the future, highlighting what they did which would be wrong, and ask them to find somebody else. So far this has happened twice.

    People aren't educated enough to know what they get for what money, and many a times people love the million-dollar website, only issue is they don't have a million to spend. This is the main issue we mostly find.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    I pretend to listen to the way they work, and continuously re-enforce my own business structure without being negative or mad, explaining to them that it's not possible to do what they want.
    I've been listening to the advice of Boag lately, and he is very practical about getting on with clients. His advice is to listen carefully to what they say, and if you have concerns, then ask them leading questions about how they will handle the negative consequences of their choices. It seems like a good way to go, meaning that they are educated and make better choices and decisions themselves, rather than being bludgeoned by the developer and not understanding why.

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    @ralph.m ;

    Could you give me some sources so I can read through it myself
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    @ralph.m ;

    Could you give me some sources so I can read through it myself
    http://www.boagworld.com/

    Info about the book is here http://boagworld.com/books/clientcentric/

    He has a podcast as well, which is just awesome!
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    Could you give me some sources so I can read through it myself
    Thanks for those links, Remon. The latest thing I've been looking at is his video series on how to build a successful web business:

    http://www.sitepoint.com/paul-boag-i...sign-business/

    But it's not free, though.

    He also talks about this sort of thing in a recent SP podcast:

    http://www.sitepoint.com/podcast-157...ith-paul-boag/

  16. #16
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    @ralph.m ; @ScallioXTX ; Very very cool man. This guy is the bomb!
    follow me on ayyelo, Easy WordPress; specializing in setting up themes!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TMacFarlane View Post
    I really don't want to go about making new, mobile versions of each page (see first paragraph.) Is this really my only alternative?
    Think about why someone would want to visit your site on mobile. It is rarely to visit every page on the site. They want to get in, get the information, and get out. What is that information in your case? In this scenario, you would build a separate, mobile-based site. You'll have to decide how much of the information would be ported over.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevenHu View Post
    Think about why someone would want to visit your site on mobile.... They want to get in, get the information, and get out.
    Sounds like me on the desktop! Really, any site where you can't do this anyway is flawed. And who are we to decide what the user wants to do? I surf the web on mobile all the time, just as on the desktop.

    There's growing evidence that this is common, too:

    http://www.the-haystack.com/2011/01/...no-mobile-web/

    http://www.slideshare.net/yiibu/the-...e-with-context

  19. #19
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    I don't ever start with a new client by talking design or even what they like. Instead, I speak to them specifically about their goals they want to reach with the site, I ask a number of questions to gauge their current knowledge of the right/wrong things in regards to site development. I ask if they want me to comment on their goals or about how they see their site/application. I then try my best to get them engaged in the 'Best Practises' for a given topic. All the time I try to demonstrate my knowledge in each area... I still don't talk about design.

    Next we move on to the content and I put a high emphasis on this. Generally the clients start asking 'Well what's it going to look like? Or, when are we going to talk about our ideas for design?'. At this point, I introduce the importance of content and demonstrate to them how modern search engines are rating sites and the difference between all the different platforms that will connect to their site. Most often the customer do get that the content needs to be the main focus with a directive for all information to add value to the users' experience. They are not always successful at getting the content the first time, but we work through it until we feel it meets the information objectives of the site. It is at this point that I convince them to invest in a copy writer skilled in Web writing/editing.

    Once we have all the content, we block it up on the site and arrange it into a logical number of pages and rough sections.

    Now we talk about the design. It is easier at this point to defend better choices in the design as they understand how much information is on the site. Most of them want layout that looks like 'Better Homes and Gardens' and so you can introduce the concept of white-space, the golden-rule variants, and eye tracking results. We also discuss how this information will transfer to mobiles. If it won't go well on the mobile, then we agree to a rule that it won't go into the site.

    Generally the graphic designers are a little uncomfortable with this way, but most of them adapt really well to the imposed boundaries of the information and the devices we need to connect to the information on the site.

    By this time, customers generally call me for advise on all sorts of Web and even non-Web related issues, so in a sense the process has reinforced the idea to them that I am an technical expert that they can trust. This trust provides leverage for decision making.

    This may not be possible with all customers although I am also careful who I will do work for.

    Steve
    ictus==""

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    @serverstorm -- EXACTLY!

    The entire notion of 'design first' is flawed, but it's the one most people adopt because it's the most expedient. Expedience is not a good thing when it comes to any form of advertising campaign, and let's be honest -- for businesses that's all a website is.

    Though it sounds like you have far better success with graphics designers than I have. In my experience they fail to grasp any of the concepts, and repeatedly try to do "but I can do it in photoshop" idiocy... It's why in the scenarios where I've been forced to work with them in the past I mark up the content semantically, make the layout in CSS, then send it to the 'artists' saying "do a paint-over, keeping in mind that everything is fluid in both direction so if your graphics can't stretch or tile, you don't get paid."

    But you really have a good process there for working with prospective clients -- the "let's slap out a pretty picture after talking for five minutes" approach that dominates the industry results in sites that are all flash and no substance; as I keep telling people there's a reason you don't see the major successes of the Internet -- Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, Slashdot -- using hordes of graphics designer BS. They are not a visual tour de force; neither should most websites... but you let the graphics designer in there, and next thing you know instead of a advertising investment all you have is an expense.

    Which is why the majority of 'design' companies out there are little more than nube predation.

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    +1 for the above two posts. The notion generally is to find a pretty design and then squeeze the content in, which is crazy. I also start with content only, and then start to look at how best to organize that content, which leads to a wireframe ... and then finally decorative touches. You know ... kind of like designing anything else, such a house, a car or whatever. Function first, design last.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    +1 for the above two posts. The notion generally is to find a pretty design and then squeeze the content in, which is crazy. I also start with content only, and then start to look at how best to organize that content, which leads to a wireframe ... and then finally decorative touches. You know ... kind of like designing anything else, such a house, a car or whatever. Function first, design last.
    My Dad is an Architect and an Engineer, and he taught me from an early age how the engineering has to be solid first and the design, while having to be attractive, must work with the form and functionality that the engineering defined.

    Of note, my Dad designed one building in Landers, California, it was Magnitude 7.2, it leveled most office building in the block where he designed his office. His was the only one left undamaged. He told me he designed the building on a huge piston and gyroscope type ball to deal with shock waves and quakes. It was the engineer not the design that was important. Web designers could learn a lot from learning abouy Architecture and Engineering, but I guess it is better they look to their own craft and understand what really should count.

    Regards,
    Steve
    ictus==""

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    Heh heh, my dad was an engineer too, and had similar stories to tell ... though we don't get serious earthquakes here. He designed his skyscrapers so that, if they fell, they'd land on the houses of parliament.

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    Well often we feel the need to wipe-out our parliamentarians so his idea was excellent and involved a lot less posturing
    ictus==""

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    I WAS an engineer for a while designing nylon threshers and injection molding machines... and both my father and grandfather were millwrights in the rope making industry... In addition to my old man being a gunsmith. I think that is a good deal of the difference in mindset... the designer is usually only concerned with how pretty it is -- the engineer is thinking maintainability, sustainability, accessibility, ease of use, and all the other important things... and when the engineer says "no, you can't do that", LISTEN!

    When you let the "designer" dictate things, that's how you get buildings shaped like a parabolic dish cooking people in the office next-doors, waste resources putting balconies where there's no window or doors, or spend 11 years struggling to make a measly (by modern standards) 1300 foot tall building that ends up the most expensive in the world -- scary when it's already taking twice as long and costs twice the Burj Dubai, Shanghai WFC, or Taipai 101.

    Oh wait, aren't two of those the same "designer"?

    Off Topic:

    Well, kinda OT..

    Reminds me of when I was a teen and they were building us a new high school to split the town in half. Instead of bringing in the contractor who did five new middle schools in ten years far, far under budget, they took the advice of 'forward thinkers' on said buildings being too utilitarian and uninspired... and brought in some foo-foo frilly designer...

    Who then proceeded to make a building where every door opened inward, had no fire extinguishers in the tech wing or cooking classes but placed 5 of them in the band room (got to worry about all that brass catching fire), had a 'bricko' wall in the gym and cafetorium just to be sure the bullies had something to smear the underclassmen against... oh yeah, a 'cafetorium' because the acoustics of a cafeteria are great for performances and a carpet is so great for keeping clean in a high school lunch-room, a flat roof that collapsed under the first snowfall since the 'designer' didn't want obvious drain pipes so there was no-place for rain much less snow to go... but the piece de resistance?

    The floor of the entranceway to the 2nd floor library, with 2" diameter holes in the walkway into it to allow light down to the room below -- which was the main entrance to the building. So of course any crud that was on people's shoes upstairs would fall on anyone walking in... much less god forbid someone on crutches tried to enter the library... so they fit glass inserts into the holes, that acted as magnifying glasses making burn marks in the carpet AND magnifying the view up girls skirts.... so they went over the glass with a sander to rough them up and with a stain to reduce the light passed through -- leaving no illumination in the entranceway. Naturally since it was supposed to get light from upstairs, they dind't run conduit to add electric lights inside the SOLID walls, so they just strung extension cords and clamp-lamps in since by that point there was no money left to do anything proper about it.

    Then of course it needed to be painted overpass green as a 1 foot stripe around the roofline, hot neon magenta walls inside and out, and of course yellow trim... on steel frame windows so the paint was already flaking off six months after construction.

    Net result was a building that cost three times the plan and STILL wasn't useful as a school. I was struggling to figure out how we were even allowed in the door given the endless fire code violations -- since last I knew they never even fixed the doors! You'd almost think it was the Commiewealth of Taxachusetts or something -- where public safety laws don't apply to government agencies or if you just wave a bit of cash under the inspectors nose. Now I'm not saying corruption is rampant... Oh wait, that's EXACTLY what I'm saying... There's a reason I moved to New Hampshire.

    Designers -- BAH. Again, it doesn't matter how pretty the result is, if it's useless, what good is it? Most "designers" need to stick to paper, as they lack the practical knowledge to make sound choices, then expect the engineer to work miracles out of their noodle-doodle impractical and often disastrously bad thinking.

    Were that most designers had practical working knowledge of what they were designing for -- like Chip Foose does. Until you have the knowledge and experience to build it, IMHO you have zero business "designing" a blasted thing! Hence why I say that sitting around drawing pretty pictures in your paint program of choice is NOT "web design", it's a pointless time waster that results in broken impractical sites built from unrealistic expectations.

    "But I can do it in Photoshop!" -- <cosby>Right...</cosby>

    Again, as I've said several dozen times, there's a reason you don't see the PSD jockey designs on any of the real success stories of the Internet, and instead see them on personal websites, game websites that are so useless people don't even bother visiting them (call in the flashtards), brick and mortar businesses for whom the Internet is a afterthought, and small businesses who got swindled using the classic "ooh shiny" predation.


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