14 January 2002
[6 pm | 1 pm | 11 am | 10 am]
Why is it? Why is it that every other personal site or weblog these days seems to be authored in valid (X)HTML and CSS, while large content sites—even really hip ones, by companies that “get it”—are so far from compliant that the W3C can only return a “fatal error” when you attempt to validate their pages?
We can understand getting some validation errors, particularly when you use the
<embed> tag to incorporate Flash and other streaming media. We’ve had the same problem ourselves. The W3C doesn’t like the
<embed> tag, though many browsers require it.
But on sites that cost millions to produce, the lack of even the most basic attempt to author valid content (or even to include a DOCTYPE) strikes us as not merely short–sighted, but borderline pathological. Don’t these companies understand what is at stake?
For reasons known only to themselves, the designers of the PDN–Pix website have moved all our 2nd SITE columns to new URLs without creating redirects or leaving forwarding addresses. Columns so moved include “You’re the Tops?”, our August 2000 deconstruction of Adweek’s Top 100 Interactive Agencies.
Because we love you—and because we hate it when site developers move or delete pages without bothering to leave a back trail—we’ve found all the new URLs and updated our listing of articles accordingly.
Lest we come off like dour Nielsenian spoilsports, let us be clear about why random URL changes mildly unhinge us. Of all the things that can make a website hard to use, hiding your content ranks high. We believe that when you publish content on the web and invite people to bookmark it, you ought not to break those bookmarks casually, as if your website were your living room and you were simply rearranging the furniture.
We’re not perfect, and we’ve deleted (or hidden) some ancient junk on this site once the referrer logs told us that nobody was bothering to look at it any more, but the durable URL principle is a good one, particularly for large content sites. If a new content management system breaks your old URLs, there are workarounds for that, too.
The Tyranny of 1024 x 768 at Interactive Design Forum comments on the absurd yet widespread practice of demanding that site visitors have “Internet Explorer 5, high–speed connection, [and] 1024 x 768 monitor resolution.”
In recent Reports, we’ve commented on the Great State of Texas’s law requiring that websites comply with web standards and WAI accessibility laws. Other U.S. states now also require compliance with WAI accessibility guidelines. Hat tip: B.K. DeLong.
“Meryl K. Evans is a geek. A very good geek.” For your edification and pleasure, the pixelview interview.
Meanwhile, Pixelsurgeon interviews Brendan Dawes. Among other things, Dawes is responsible for the brilliant Saul Bass on the Web tribute site. Saul Bass, of course, designed the title sequences for Psycho, North by Northwest, Anatomy of a Murder, and many other films, and his work continues to influence designers everywhere (see today’s Book of the Day, below). Bass also storyboarded the most–discussed sequence in film history: the shower murder in Psycho.
Thanks for the cards and letters! After a lovely birthday weekend break, we’re hard at work on the launch of a music brand (news to come) and the completion of Charlotte Gray. Others born on 12 January: Tanya Rabourn (19??), Howard Stern (1954), Joe Frazier (1944), Jack London (1876), John Singer Sargent (1856) and HAL (2001).
Book of the Day: Designer Shock: “a guide to the weird and wonderful world of the Berlin–based Designershock design group ... full of mysterious artifacts and characters.” Mainly what you get in this fascinating and somewhat cryptic hardcover publication is a collection of remarkable typefaces (including one based on the work of Saul Bass), and access to an online book companion site, where you can create artwork in real time over the web. :::
12 January 2002
Condolences to our friend Jim and his family.
For those of us confused by the maddeningly vague, numbingly–written WAI Web Accessibility documents, the State of Illinois has prepared a nicely condensed, easy–to–understand tutorial on the subject. Unfortunately, the tutorial is in PDF format, making it inaccessible. (Hat tip: Anonymous Donor A.)
Dreamweaver is an awe–inspiring and powerful tool, but like all such tools, it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. View Source at Fandango to see what we mean.
We were turned on to Fandango, not by the noxious wide–screen commercials that play in Loew’s Theaters (“I work for Mister Fandango”) but by a new client who inhabits a vaguely related space.
After bemoaning the site’s construction, we used Fandango to order tickets for Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Needless to say, all is forgiven.
Every day, we get heaps of mail from folks who want to implement web standards at their companies but need help persuading management. It breaks our heart that we can’t answer even one tenth of these letters.
For those who seek strategic ammo, here’s a start. And here’s more. And still more. Behind the scenes, The Web Standards Project has recruited new talent and is preparing a Phase II site that, when launched, will provide the educational and strategic resources you need.
We have reached another milestone on the road that leads to annihilation. Happy Birthday to us! :::
11 January 2002
[10 am | 9 am]
In Issue No. 133 of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites: CMS and the Single Web Designer, by James Ellis. Content Management Systems free designers from the gruntwork of individual web page production. They may also free companies from the need to retain design staff. How do content management systems work, and what impact will they have on a web designer’s job?
It’s raining in New York, city of Gershwin, Scorsese, and Koch. Our provider has run out of bandwidth, making it difficult to work. Our landlord has run out of hot water, making it difficult to bathe. We’re about to meet a new client for the first time, and we like to smell fresh for these meetings. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, the bad and the beautiful.
Book of the Day: Designagent Km7: License to Design showcases the extraordinarily clean stylizations of Klaus Mai, whose work for Volkswagen, Nike, Sony, and various DJs influenced everyone in the 1990s and continues to reverberate. :::
Book of the Day: Pictoplasma (ed. Peter Thaler): “The world’s finest exhibition of contemporary character design. The exhaustive collection impressively surveys one of the most global languages in graphics.”
Come Saturday, we’ll be one year older, and we’ve got the grey hairs to prove it. Actually, the grey hairs began arriving on 25 October 2000, and we noticed they had multiplied (like grey hares) after 11 September 2001. Odd how sorrow works with time to change the face.
See ALA’s recent Mac Browser Roundup for a review of the Beta version that immediately preceded this release. Note that Opera 5/Mac is for “Classic” Mac OS. The OS X version is still in Beta. Then again, some of us think OS X is still kind of in Beta itself.
Bambino’s Curse, the diary of a Red Sox fan, is yet another convert to the CSS Layout Cabal. Lawver.net is another, and a nice one, too. Includes a helpful Geekery section for all your obscure, geeky needs.
BigBarn, a UK–based “virtual farmer’s market,” has incorporated the ALA Style Sheet Switcher to accommodate the needs of visually impaired visitors.
“We’ve already had some grateful emails from visitors, most of whom expressed their dismay at the fact that there aren’t very many sites that provide this kind of facility,” says developer Matt MacLeod.
The ALA Style Sheet Switcher was developed by Paul Sowden, and is freely available for your use. :::
9 January 2002
[6 pm | noon | 10 am]
Sometimes we feel like Prometheus. Most times, like Sisyphus.
Still more CSS–only redesigns: Revert to Saved, whose humor will please some (reaction to the “flower power” iMacs: iPuked), and Wireviews, dedicated to the late great UK punk band, Wire. 154 was our favorite of their albums, and if you heard it you’d know why.
Two items that have nothing to do with web design recently caught our attention: Jennifer K. Ruark’s A Second Look at the Big Squeeze asks if corsets, or even foot binding, were really that bad. And CNN casually notes that a “killer asteroid” capable of pulverizing an entire nation came close to doing so on Monday. We thought we felt something.
From freeware icon designers to the kings of Corporate GUI: Iconfactory Design has created the interface elements for much of the software we all use. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of pixel geeks. (And corporations like Netscape, Microsoft, and Apple couldn’t have picked better iconists.)
Rik Abel’s Meme Machine does the “New for 2002” re–design mambo using CSS for layout, and initiating a Breakfast Surreals competition. First entry: Killog’s Coco Wasps: “They Sting the Inside of Your Mouth!” ::: ButtonMonkey has also done the “New for 2002” re–design mambo using CSS for layout, XHTML for document structure.
8 January 2002
Just as Steve Jobs was getting to the good part, a client phoned. We muted Apple’s Quicktime stream and took the call. When our call was finished, so was Jobs. Thus we have no clue why the new iMac is the greatest revelation since fire. Nonetheless, we like Steve Jobs and find his flair for hype instructive. Scripting News tracked reactions to Jobs’s Macworld keynote.
Just thirty more sleepness nights until The Time section of the Charlotte Gray website goes live.
We continue to update the zeldman.com FAQ while digging through the avalanche of reader mail with a teaspoon. We are updating the FAQ as you read this. Don’t blink!
visualOrgasm.de is a lovingly–crafted, German–language design portal with more than 400 links, plus daily news, splashes, fonts, wallpaper, and other fine fripperies. We rediscovered Alex Dukal’s site among visualOrgasm’s links after misplacing it in the hubbub of December 2001.
7 January 2002
An overview of newly released Adobe GoLive 6.0 includes these fascinating notes: “Robust DTD–profiled enabled syntax checker for compliant W3C code; Section 508–compliant code for accessible sites; XML support furthers cross–media publishing, especially with InDesign 2.0.” (More info: press release. Hat tips: Craig VanDerSchaegen and Big Joe Clark.)
New Design for a New Year cont’d: L. Michelle’s Inflatable Sheep re–design includes a Style Sheet Switcher to enhance legibility for the visually impaired. Chris Casciano’s Placenamehere comes out piping hot and lightly browned for 2002. (Chris also prepared this little experiment for your pleasure.)