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One woman's slightly skewed views

Fitting design to content, not content to design

For those that didn’t catch the heads-up on 456 Berea St, what a magnificent article by Chris at Wait till I come!. Chris notes how difficult it actually was, in the early days of the web with their accompanying browser wars, to build and maintain table-based websites that worked across browsers — and how (contrary to what some of the old-school diehards would have us believe) building websites using Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) layouts is not any more difficult, once you accept CSS for what it is.

He makes the very pertinent point that the design should fit around the content, not the content be made to fit into our designs:

A web page that looks and works exactly the same across different browsers is most likely neither accessible nor easy to maintain. A web page that is well structured, allows for flexibility and improves visually with the sophistication of the user agent is both.

An amazing statement, isn’t it? Such a basic point that is so very true — and so frequently overlooked.

It doesn’t have to look the same in every browser. It really doesn’t.

A site built using well-formed and semantic X/HTML, CSS and other standards as set out by the W3C, should work well and look acceptable (the definition of “acceptable” will ultimately depend on the target audience) in browsers without good standards support. Those using browsers that do support standards to a greater degree will be able to take advantage of any sophisticated visual features built into the site for such browsers.

The thing is this: the visual features are built around the content, not the other way round.

And a bonus is improved web accessibility.

Pretty simple really.

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