how designers/coders foul internet…

visitors deserve some respect.

When a visitor arrives at a web site with her new and fully functional web browser loaded with all the latest plug-ins, she deserve some respect and decency from those behind the site.

Apart from the odd, good, exception, all too often she is shown neither respect nor decency, but instead are met with web sites that fight her browser instead of cooperating with it – sites designed to fail on the world wide web.

Too many sites “designed for failure” with internet access, which is why I write about it. Such sites should be redesigned before releasing them beyond the boundaries of personal devices and intranets, in my opinion.

is incompetence and/or ignorance the norm?

Incompetence and ignorance are closely linked, as one inevitably leads to the other, and both are widespread in the web design industry. Result: web sites only work reasonably well on a superficial and very narrow, visual, level. That is; if they work at all outside their designers/​coders minds.

I don't think it is possible to draw a line between web designer and front-end coder here, as they may either be one and the same or work in some form of team. Regardless, as far as web design is concerned, these two professions are equally responsible for the actual web design and whether it works or not. Thus, I use the term “designer/​coder” in this article.

why design for failure?

Why those behind a failing site have designed it to fail, is anybody's guess, but chance is they don't know any better – see above. Web design isn't hard, but it is a profession one has to learn in depth and frequently update ones knowledge in to master properly, and for some reason or another those behind sites designed to fail haven't bothered to learn their trade and/or update their knowledge.

Not unusual that those behind a failing web design don't care about visitors either. Many design for their own screens only, and choose to ignore that there are other screens, devices and media with internet access – which is strange since so many designers/​coders are young people who should know all about the spread of media with internet-access in regular use today.

Designers/​coders also more as a rule than an exception ignore that visiting web browsers, for good reasons, may have other settings than their own. Luckily for them their design-work is unlikely to last long enough to need changes in settings to access them. Many seem to try their best to foul up everything while they can though, so next generations of designers/​coders can learn from and repeat their mistakes.

touting dysfunctional designs.

As owner/​author of a few web sites I receive my fair share of mails touting redesign – at a price. They promise to optimize my sites for search engines, improved download time, increase my sites' value, etc.

Strangely enough, they never promise to improve my visitors' experience, and I can see why just by looking at sites they claim have received their services. All their examples of “improved” sites, are very weak and can't take much, if any, user-induced stress.

Are anyone wondering why I don't buy into such “promising” services?

fouling not acceptable.

I prefer to design and code my own sites, and I only design and code for visitors' experience. My sites don't fight any browser or browser settings, although some more or less ignore obsolete browsers.

Download time is short enough for comfort on any device/​connection aimed at internet, and for small to medium sized sites like mine I see no point in shaving off a few more milliseconds just because I can.

Search engine ranking has never been important to me, which results in rankings deserved rather than created. Content drives everything on my sites, as it should.

When it comes to what drives failing web designs, I don't know and I am not seriously bothered as long as such sites I care to visit deliver content and work reasonable well with design “turned off”.

I am not on a mission to save people from the mess other designers/​coders create, I just do not want to push such misery where I am in control of the design process.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 08.mar.2011
09.mar.2011 - "fine-tuned" a few sentences.
14.mar.2014 - very minor revision.
last rev: 14.mar.2014

side notes.

major causes for failure.

Web designs relying on designed-in font and text size, tend to break when their “requirements” are not met.
More often than not such design requirements can not be met if visitors want readability without calibrating their browser or entire systems for dysfunctional web designs, which is something somewhat intelligent people are unlikely to do.

Web designs relying on visitors lack of knowledge about their own software, tend to break as more and more visitors acquire the necessary knowledge to make intelligent choices and modify settings to go with their own preferences – not those of designers​coders.
Not a good idea to treat visitors as ignorant fools, even if some probably are.

Web designs relying on one browser's default rendering, tend to break in other, often better, browsers.
Since no browser is perfect, relying entirely on rendering in any one of them is unwise.

Site designs that rely on browser-hacking have a tendency to fail and foul up rendering in new browser versions.
Minimal and somewhat safe browser-hacking is an artform, and extensive browser-hacking is always bad.

Sites designed for yesteryears browsers tend not to do too well in today's browsers. Yesteryears browsers are on the way out, so it doesn't make sense to design for them.
Designing for/in the latest browser versions at any given time and just making sure yesteryears browsers can at least render content well, is the way to go for success – a methodology known as “progressive enhancement”.

Sites only designed for one media tend to not render well on/in other media it is natural for people to use these days.
May take a while for newest media devices to render reasonably well for regular web sites they have access to, but the humble printer sure is mature enough to deserve some styling and testing.

major types of failure.

Partly or fully obstructed content – most often text – under stress. Makes content more or less unintelligible to totally inaccessible.

Partly or fully obstructed site navigation under stress. Makes site navigation difficult to impossible.

Rearranged visual order and positioning often causes overlapping/​obstruction under stress, as design-parts don't interact well or at all to make space for each other.

design for the web.

Correcting for the weaknesses above will not have negative impact on a design's visual appearance, unless the designer/coder is trying to impose “pixel perfection”.

Size and resolution for screens is all over the place, and even the definition, composition and shape of a single screen-pixel vary. Software have quite a spread in how to align design-shapes to various screens and screen-pixels.
One has in my not very humble opinion to have been totally disconnected from reality for the last decade or so, to even suggest “pixel perfection” in jest.

The media/​devices/​software used for accessing the web, all have some forms for dynamic/​fluid rendering built in, and will modify any and all visual designs to a certain degree. The road to success for any web design attempt, is to cooperate with these dynamic/​fluid “canvases”. advice upgrade advice upgrade navigation