Posts tagged ‘standards’

The Design Revelation of DaveHo

Last week I attended the Penn State University Web Conference 2005. One focus of the conference was the implementation of standards for web design and development for the university, designated with the jaunty, evocative title of Policy AD54. Befitting any large, bureaucratic organization the need for standards goes beyond simple look and feel issues, but protects their investment in the Web, provides continuity and commonality for not only the users, but the developers.

As I listened to presenters preaching the virtues of CSS design, accessibility across media, and rigid doctype validation, I sensed something emerging in my mind. Any designer would say that using a systematic method of design is just good sense, but in reality, and like most endevors, we tend to go where the needs take us. Methodology or standards seem to take a back seat to the needs of our own vision or limitations of our environment. But I was now hearing the rational argument for web standards, and after the conference, I made the decision that designing to web standards would be my way.
Big friggin’ deal, I can hear you say. So you discovered something the design community has known for a long time. I never said I was an early adopter or blade running the bleeding edge. But like any revelation, the important thing is not about when it happens, but the fact that it did happen. Designing to standards gives me more than just alignment with so-called “good practice”, but something more: rigor in my own work practice.
One of the tough things about design I have found is that I tend to approach each project as a unique entity, devising the approach and the methods anew each time. By allowing myself to be bound to standards, now I can keep my own work under scrutiny (at least in the HTML design and implementation). I have benchmarks to check my work against, and I can feel confident that what I build will stand up over time in a field where the “best” way changes with frustrating regularity.
When Microsoft, who’s main task has been to consult on what’s best for the Net then promptly ignore it to maintain its hold, concedes that the community’s way is better than their way, then I have respect for that standard. Apple, who “Thinks Different” sometimes to their own detriment, is trying to breech the gap between themselves and other platforms by embracing the same web standards as their Redmond peers. The web community has been companies that push their own formats as “standard” causing a balkanization of users that have to defend their choices. Web standards is something special: its something the community from biggest to smallest has approached in lock step.
And I for one am joining the march. represents this new way of design. Its using XHTML Transitional (too chicken to go Strict yet), and external CSS (I am adding additional sheets for print and handheld support). So far it stands up well in IE 6, Mozilla Firefox and Opera 8 (almost). I will soon be checking its support in legacy browsers (IE 5+, Mozilla 1+, Opera 6+) and platforms (Mac and Linux). If you are viewing this in something other than the three modern browsers above, and there is a big problem, let me know.
N.B. If you are using IE 4 or Netscape 4.x or earlier, don’t bother since they are both crap. And upgrade your browser, for crying out loud!