Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Web Misunderstandards

Having worked in the web industry for some time now I have learnt what is possible, what is impossible and what will be possible soon. Web standards are the basic rules all web designers should work to. It adds another dimension to the requirements designers are often faced with but, in the long run, results in a better design.

Andy Rutledge (Creative Director of Netsuccess) states in his recent post - 'Web Misunderstandards':

"Create the designs you want. Be conscious of the practical characteristics of the medium, but create anything you can conceive of and know that you’ll not be limited when you take your work online, even in a manner consistent with Web standards. You may indeed have to work hard to gain skill and understanding of the technical factors involved in doing so, but this is a situation common to all professions."

Web standards are not something introduced to restrict design but to make it more effective. What use is design if it can't reach the intended audience. All web standards do is ensure online content is accessible to the largest possible audience and, as Andy comments on, tools such as flash replacement (sifR) allow you to use non-system fonts whilst still degrading nicely to system fonts when flash in unavailable. This also ensures your flash content is indexed by searched engines as well.

In response to the original email Andy received that stated:
"The Web standard has little flexibility, isn't conducive to creativity, and I think it's actively preventing our moving forward in truly creating the next step in communications."
I couldn't disagree more. You only have to see the high level of creativity that is emerging with the good use of CSS to realise standard compliant sites can look great.

Web Misunderstandards by Andy Rutledge
Web standards by Andy Rutledge


gs4_ttl said...

but surely it does, in fact, restrict you as you are having to make sure you are designing to all audiences. Text readers can’t read a flash movie or flash site

nypo said...

Obviously, things like flash movies are not very accessible but there are ways to make a site degrade nicely. For example, having an alternative version that the user can fall back on if they have not got flash installed or choose to disable it for the very reason that they can not view flash due to a disability.

nypo said...

I think educational institutes should take some responsibility for the current lack of knowledge in web standards and proper techniques. Far too many schools and colleges are using tutors who are not in touch with the current web trends as they don’t work in the industry as such. They are being taught techniques which are not really very fresh or cutting edge and web standards and accessibility is not really very high on the agenda. This is not always the fault of the tutors as they are often told what they should teach. I think a key point is for tutors and students to become aware of current activity in the web industry by reading up on sites such as Think Vitamin, 456 Berea Street and A List Apart and utilizing sites such as the Web Developers Handbook. Obviously there are exceptions and some institutes take pride in offering up the latest web techniques and standards.