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RE: web page layout standards

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 15:32:38 -0800
To: "'Ken Grygiec'" <kgrygienc@agencyr.com>, <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <007101c06626$25a059b0$0100a8c0@aries>
Ken Grygiec wrote:
"OK, here's the problem. I'm sure there are both programmers and designers,
like myself, on this list. Both are taught differently. As a designer, your
taught to not consider the possible coding scenario and focus on the look of
the site. You know, don't let medium stop you. So there will always
obviously be some contradiction."

I'm not sure I go along with that.

Yes, with all artists there is a certain fringe element that constantly
tries to use the medium in new ways. Heck, look at any performance artist.
But part of being an artist includes understanding the medium. You need to
know the rules before you can break them.

I think that most so-called graphic designers are simply too lazy (or too
terrified) to learn the constraints of HTML and CSS. Many of them don't seem
to understand even basic concepts, such as: not everyone uses the same

These designers are used to a fixed medium such as print, and to the myth of

[I say myth because it is just that. Graphic designers think that they can
control the effect that their work has on the viewer. Look at any magazine
ad. They can pick the exact colors, the exact font, the exact layout, etc.
and they think that this = control. But think again. Can they choose what
light their page will be viewed in? What angle it will be viewed from? What
the emotional state of the viewer will be? How long the viewer will look a
their ad? What past experiences might influence the viewer's response to
their ad?

The truth is that the tiny amount of control a graphic designer has over
print items (or video, or audio) pales in significance next to the number of
things he or she cannot control.]

Good graphic designers understand this medium for what it is: a versatile
means for delivering information to a consumer. They see that the secret to
great web design is *not* complete control over pixel-placement, or color,
or font, but the ability to serve information in a way that adapts itself to
a variety of formats. The print ad that that designer did last week will
NEVER be seen by my blind neighbor. But his web page ad could be accessible
to everyone on virtually every type of device, if he or she will just give
up the illusion of absolute control.

There are visionary designers out there who will embrace this new medium and
make it their own, who will change the face of the web. But they are few in
number so far, and they are certainly not the mediocre talents trying with
Procrustean fervor to make the medium fit their designs.

If your teachers taught you to disregard the strengths and weaknesses of the
medium, they did you a disservice.

Charles F. Munat,
Seattle, Washington
Received on Thursday, 14 December 2000 18:26:50 UTC

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