W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 2002

Re: W3C icon redesigns

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 17:46:03 -0400
Message-Id: <a05111a09b9491df59b03@[192.168.1.100]>
To: WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

>  I don't go to web sites because they are examples of fine art;

Speak for yourself.

>I go to them either because I want specific information, or because 
>they are the cheapest way to buy a product.

Those goals are not at all nullified or contradicted by good visual design.

>Real content to me means useful information. A lack of real content 
>means standard marketing hype, where you can more or less predict 
>what is coming and it is all about repeating back the prospect's 
>wants and not telling you anything substantive about the company or 
>the products.

Those are not design complaints; you are complaining about marketing, 
lack of substance, or cluelessness about the way the Web works. Or 
usability, really.

>For a site containing information, I find that use of commercial 
>artists (and the term web designer doesn't generally mean design as 
>a branch of engineering, or information science, but rather as a 
>branch of commercial art) correlates fairly strongly with a lack of 
>substantive content.

An overbroad declaration. Merely as a counterexample, nearly *any* 
Web designer--
a term that definitely has its own meaning, and it's what Web 
designers themselves call each other--
who uses CSS to lay out a site also cares about accessibility, good 
content, and good authoring practices in general. Even designers who 
knowingly use table layouts may still care about all those things. 
They're not all incompetent or uncaring.

The problem here is that sites like Amazon and eBay, which are, 
respectively, written in crappy HTML or look like crap, have 
colonized people's imaginations. Not-very-interesting people with 
poor visual sophistication may find sites like those satisfy their 
day-to-day needs. Such people don't really surf the Web, so they have 
no idea what else is going on out there, and even if they looked it, 
they either don't care what it looks like or lack the vocabulary even 
to discuss design issues.

Or, as in the present case, they may have hit a couple of 1999-era 
Razorfish-designed corporate-site monstrosities and that has forever 
tainted their perceptions of "Web design."

You got your good Web designers and you got your bad ones. W3C needs 
to start working at the level of the good ones, who are themselves 
trying to work at the level of the W3C through standards compliance.

BTW, Amazon's homepage has been redesigned in valid (X)HTML to prove 
that it can be done:

<http://www.dashes.com/anil/stuff/Amazon_valid.html>
<http://www.thereisnocat.com/amazon-xhtml.html>

I suppose that solves part of the problem, if not the design issue.

>Heavy "design" almost always indicates that I am going to get dead 
>links and blank pages without scripting on and have a steep learning 
>curve working out how to navigate the site.

That was certainly true two years ago. In my own surfing (an activity 
more W3C members should engage in), I find such sites are now 
remarkably rare. "Usabilitistas" have essentially won the battle. 
Now, my project is to make beautiful sites as accessible as possible 
and vice-versa. I expect nothing but the best of everything, and so 
should you.
-- 

     Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
     Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
     Weblogs and articles <http://joeclark.org/weblogs/>
     <http://joeclark.org/writing/> | <http://fawny.org/>
Received on Wednesday, 3 July 2002 17:58:37 GMT

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