Re: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire

Murray Altheim (murray@spyglass.com)
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 18:00:15 -0500


Message-Id: <v02140b2cae91aae3d26d@[208.203.149.85]>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 18:00:15 -0500
To: "Scott E. Preece" <preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
From: murray@spyglass.com (Murray Altheim)
Subject: Re: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire
Cc: www-html@w3.org

"Scott E. Preece" <preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com> writes:
> From: murray@spyglass.com (Murray Altheim)
>|
>| >No different with web pages -- it's a known fact that people have a
>| >better chance of exploring your web site if it's appearance "grabs" them
>|
>| It's not a well-known fact, it's an example of pure marketing crap. People
[...]
>It's not all marketing crap.  Appearance *does* count and not all
>attention to appearance is vanity or flash.  Each site has an intended
>audience and an intended message to send to that audience.
[...]
>In each case, the CONTENT is qualitatively different.  Good designers
>consider their audience, their sponsor's goals, and the technological
>realities in designing a site.  Not all flair is flash.  Not all content
>can be provided in ASCII text.  Not all information can be meaningfully
>presented to people with sight or hearing problems.

Scott, I agree with most of these statements, but I fail to see where I've
ever advocated ASCII text. Even HTML 2.0 can produce some beautiful pages
in the hands of a good designer. Add to that tables, background color and
images, and you've got plenty to work with. Good design doesn't require
yellow ink on a silver background, contrary to what some may think at
WiReD. And as soon as you design into a page something that shuts out a
substantial part of your intended audience, that's poor design. I have a
friend who frustratingly can't read much of WiReD due to some sight
problems -- he has no difficulty with The Economist.

To deal with the sight-impaired, I expect that server-side content
negotiation will become the norm as we move toward WebTV and small devices,
as that market demands access to the Web. I only hope that as content
providers race into providing versions for small devices, they design with
a greater community in mind than simply those with large screens and 300MHz
Pentiums, otherwise we'll see a much greater disparity between the
information haves and have-nots. It's generally not a lot of work to
degenerate a complex page to HTML 2.0, which can be transformed to ICADD
2.2: simply remove all the glitz and replace with some descriptive text,
and use ALT on your images, please.

Murray

```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````
    Murray Altheim, Program Manager
    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
    email: <mailto:murray@spyglass.com>
    http:  <http://www.cambridge.spyglass.com/murray/murray.html>
           "Give a monkey the tools and he'll eventually build a typewriter."