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Re: text as images...

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Tue, 05 Feb 2002 15:42:19 -0800
Message-ID: <3C606DDB.6020200@munat.com>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

gian@stanleymilford.com.au wrote:

> If I use CSS for the layout of a site, then if you turn
> off stylesheets the site can become very difficult to comprehend.

If it is, you're doing it wrong. The HTML should be used to encode the 
structure of the site, and without CSS, you should get a nice linear 
reading order. As for skipping navigation, that's what skip links are for.

The reason that the problem you describe occurs is because the designer 
is still thinking in presentational terms instead of structural terms. 
Do the structure FIRST! Make sure the page makes sense when viewed 
without CSS. Then and only then should you add the CSS to get the 
presentational effect you desire.

> If you
> use CSS to organise that layout of navigation, followed by text etc.
> then once you've turned off CSS then these elements (in some browsers)
> are laid out one after another, and the whole look and feel of the site
> it lost.

It is not lost, it is different. That's not necessarily a bad thing. 
Some people prefer a linear order. The question is, Is your linear 
"Lynx" layout a poor step-sister of your fancy "IE" layout, or do you 
put the effort into making your site look good on both?

Look and feel is nice, but usually pretty arbitrary. Navigation above, 
on the right, on the left -- what difference does it make? Yes, the 
non-CSS version will not be consistent with the CSS-version, but viewers 
will either get one or the other, not both, so what is the problem?

A page without CSS is essentially a page in Lynx. If your site is 
garbage when viewed without CSS, then it is garbage in Lynx and probably 
not very usable/accessible on much assistive technology. When I see a 
page that looks bad on Lynx, I know that the designers put presentation 
first and forgot about structure. I don't think it's possible to 
structure a site well, and then have it look bad on Lynx. (Of course, 
you have to understand what structure is first -- it ain't layout.)

Structure first, presentation afterward. This would not be a difficult 
concept for designers if they understood web sites. But they persist in 
believing that web sites are print media on a monitor -- that they 
consist of "pages" -- and so they think layout first, structure second 
(if ever).

> Not to mention the inconvenience of having to scroll three
> pages of image after image in order to get to content.

Sounds like no one bothered to get the structure right. And what are all 
these images? Are they spacers or real images? If you have pages with 
lots of images, you should probably use XHTML 1.0 Transitional and use 
the align attribute on your img elements.

> As for the Department, they requested compliance with Netscape 2.0
> because after some user testing they had determined that a significant
> proportion of their repeat users were still using this browser level.

Yet another reason for a good structure *before* CSS is applied.

Charles F. Munat
Seattle, Washington
Received on Tuesday, 5 February 2002 18:41:10 UTC

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