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WebReview: The Myth of 800x600 [webreview.com]
Some though-provoking options toward the end of the article. Did you notice, however, that the options which have the author's favor (that is, that make flexible use of the screen real estate) are almost all "difficult to implement"? Many clients are not ready to spend for the extra development time that this requires. And they don't all work well cross-browser.
Another point that isn't examined is that there is a qualitative difference between a screen design that requires a change in resolution for comfortable viewing, and one that requires a one-time window resize (perhaps as simple as a single click to maximize the window.) As a user, I'm not upset at all with the second option, but the first sorely tries my patience.
I don't forsee a standard devloping in this area, at least not for a long time. Most of my design clients have print world expectations about aesthetic appearance and proportion. Add in the extra challenge and development time for the more flexible designs, and I expect to continue doing fixed aspect layout for all but the most text-centric sites. If new browser technology make flexible layout easier, then I'll re-examine my position.
Along those lines, hasn't Brett done a great job with WebmasterWorld? Pick a window size, any window size, and what you have on screen looks pretty darned good, and highly usable.
The rest of the story is a nice review of current options. One thing I did notice though, was the over all attitude of designers that they should force feed users the style and format of page. I would rather leave it up to the user. If dual column 1024x768 is too wide of print for them, then let them resize their screen - don't force feed a 800x600 screen selection on them.
Fully flexible pages ("liquid" pages) ... tends to have what some describe as a "cheap, HTML-feel" that doesn't always meet the visual branding standards of some site stakeholders.
It amazes me... the web was created to solve the problem of sharing documents across disparate platforms, resolutions, etc. And all these "stakeholders" want to do is constantly move in the other direction, where you need a very specific platform to view the document.
Sometimes I think they never should have added the <CENTER> tag... that was the first tag that got popular which had absolutely nothing to do with the page content, per se. After that the can of worms was open!
some of us come to the idea of design with a knowledge of what the web was and is, and some idea of the potential functionality of it...other come to it with a good solid grounding in standard graphic design practise
the former group know the medium...the latter group have been TAUGHT what is right in another medium and never taught why it doesn't apply in this one...they also usually know how to make prettier presentations
at present the "dead tree" designers are in the dominant position...this will remain true until a significant number of people who grew up building web pages before they studied design graduate from the design courses and start teaching...so maybe 20 years or so
unless the use of hand held devices increases dramatically, of course
My wife was talking to someone who "has done a few sites" and asked if they know HTML - their answer was "oh, HTML is old hat now - nobody uses that anymore, I use dreamweaver".
The web has evolved from simpy being about document delivery. It's also a huge marketing tool.
In order to market, you need to make things look good.
That's where Neilsen gets it wrong. He talks about basic pages and usability too much, forgetting about the evolution of the medium.
The simple fact is that if you're marketing something on the web you want people to be impressed - not just present them with pages and pages of text. This is more and more important as consumer use of the net increases.
Yes, the net is about information. Nowadays, it's also about marketing.
We're not likely to get a standard anytime soon - the deregulated ideal behind the web is a natural barrier to this. However, restricting the ways in which we can use the medium to reach people to simple document delivery is shooting ourselves in the foot.
Wether you like it or not impressions are very important especially on the web. A shop for instance provides the customer with ambience, carpets, decorations, music, smart presentable staff etc. All these things inspire the customer with confidence and this is what sites should all be about. You dont want fancy glass flooring that cracks every 2 minutes. Nor do you want a cement floor. You compramise and come up with something that is both practical but also that looks good.
I have seen a lot of really nice sites that are too graphics and flash intensive and this hampers the access to the information. -BUT- I have seen some really bare, unimpressive and visually unappealing sites that give me no confidence in using that site.
To be honest I have seen way too many underdevelped sites than overdelveloped. People love to criticise Flash but hey, at least they are trying to make appealing sites even if it does'nt quite make it on the user side.
Both types of sites are equally as bad which is why good designers and good web sites are very very rare.
Each individual site should be treated so, ALL sites shouldnt fit any resolution, neither should the ALL be specific size.
Comprmise and deliver the content for your users and not for your own preference.
the web is NOT print...the design techniques developed for print only work on the web by perverting the medium almost until it becomes unusable
there are some gorgeous web sites out there that have no fixed font sizes or fixed width tables or any of the other dead tree crutches...whilst those trained in graphic design continue to insist that what they learned for print media MUST be right for the web then we will not be making progress towards a generally good standard of web design
I'm just asking for people to show a bit of courage and instead of trying to make this new medium behave as much like the old media as you can, get out there and start working with it, start making web sites that operate effectively and look superb
as an unreconstructed 77 vintage punk it really pains me to see a new medium treated with the sort of caution with which most designers treat the web...this is a new playground...what you got taught about graphic design in art school, or wherever, no longer applies
yet most sites seem to be copies of other existing sites...even though the medium has only existed a few years it has already developed a whole mess of cliches, a plethora of sacred cows...and yet it's the people who remind designers about the technical limitations of the medium who are accused of holding things back
I spend a fair amount of time around artists...cutting edge artists...they don't complain that they can't cut marble with a paper knife...they use the limitations of a medium as a positive part of their work
the web is a resizable, flexible medium...surely that must get somebody else excited...it's new...it should be fun to see what it can do...all it takes is the willingness to accept that you are NOT designing a display on your monitor, you are designing a web site
Personally, I have seen far more overdeveloped sites than underdeveloped sites, yet agree that the perfect mix of delivery/readability/credibility/inspiration will continue to keep us up at night.
Ironically, some of the most breathtaking, beautiful sites I have had the pleasure of viewing have been early adopters of CSS layout. I daresay that they would not be out of place in the local art museum, yet they are pure web.