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Re: The Core Beliefs of Usability and Their CSS Application

From: <Kris@meridian-ds.com>
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2005 17:33:27 -0500
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF3A0B1AF3.75959B1A-ON86257031.007BE97E-86257031.007BE9AB@meridian-ds.com>


>I wasn't referring to WYSIWYG actually, but WYSIWYG would certainly be
>nice. There is nothing inherent wrong with WYSIWYG, but with the
>artificial limitations placed on it.
>
>WYSIWYG doesn't have to apply to explicit sizes. It could work for
>proportions and in some applications it already does. Take for example
>an application that allowed you to style a canvas into areas. In one
>direction, character-flow (the direction the character is next is
>displayed from the stream) you could only provide percentages of the
>viewport. So one area would be 25% and the next would be 40%. It would
>be easy to see when it adds up to 100%. If it doesn't add to 100%
>issue a warning.
>
>In the other direction, line-flow (the direction the next line will be
>placed), you specify lengths in lines (with auto being an option to
>display as many lines as it takes).
>
>You wanted examples, here are some.
>
>The working group shot itself in the foot by giving authors the tools
>to abuse the language. Of course they're going to use WYSIWYG tools to
>produce pixel perfect layouts... That's what's easiest.
>
>If you want a person to go a particular way, make that way the most
>desirable for them to go. Users to me work a lot like water. They
>often follow the path of least resistance whenever it comes to things
>unfamiliar to them. Then once that path is established, they don't
>change. As they use a particular path, they reinforce the tunnel
>provided. So if you're going to provide an alternative to an
>entrenched method, you're going to be fighting uphill.

OK Orion, I think you're missing my point.  To me, virtually everything
you've talked about falls into the realm of 3rd party developers who intend
their WYSIWYG utility to be used by the non-technical person who probably
shouldn't be coding in the first place, but for whatever reason needs to do
so, and has money to throw at their product.  But I digress, I'll weave
this in again below.

>Isn't it good that usability gives us the tools to quantify. User
>studies, tests and statistical analysis all provide the means.

You are suggesting that you actually have statistical data that suggests
the bulk of people who use CSS today are either confused by it or dislike
it?  Cause that's what I'm getting from the tone of your arguement.
Standing on a pedistal saying "This is what I do for a living, hear me
roar." really has little meaning to me unless you have real numbers.
Telling me that the bulk of people you deal with don't understand it or
dislike it is totally fine.  But chances are that "user-group" is entirely
too small a sampling to really learn anything worth-while from.  Just like
all the people I know (designers) who like CSS are probably too small a
sampling to really determine anything.

>My statement there made no statement as to whether or not CSS was easy
>to write for. That is the point of the post, but the point right there
>was to say that designer's should adjust for users not the other way
>around.

That's fine and dandy, but again if you have no real numbers to suggest
such a change should occur, then you have no real arguement.

>Because of what I do, I work a lot with the IT techs in my company.
>They offer valuable insight into what is being asked repeatedly. As to
>the God-given right argument, it is the hope of every company that
>they see the greatest penetration of their product. While they know
>not everyone will want it, they would probably be pretty happy if
>everyone bought it. Don't confuse this with the tactic of making
>something rare in order to make it more desirable. This is a marketing
>tactic. They still want as many people to buy their product as
>possible.

Sure, every company wants that, but that's not really the situation we're
discussing at the moment.  The consortium is really more a group of
companies agreeing on what standard they're going to use.  The end goal
being to be as platform independent as possible allowing for non-technical
users to browse the web in peace. (amongst other goals)

>Designers aren't end users which is why if you want to be successful
>you get someone who knows users. Usability specialists are those
>people. Also having an end user on your design team can help if you
>know how to get accurate information out of them. User-created design
>isn't usually very good.

Ok, here's kinda the crux of the arguement.  You want to make things usable
for any old shmoe.  Which is cool.  All I'm saying is that the language
isn't responsible for that.  The language is clean.  The language is
concise.  In my opinion, it's easy to use.  You really can't ask for a lot
more from a language of any sort.  If you want it to be usable by any
tech-un-savy person in the world, you're going to need to focus on
something other than the language... which is why I continue to perceive
all your comments as something that would be better directed at a 3rd party
developers of a CSS writing product.

>I'm just glad most company's don't take this same attitude. Could you
>imagine car companies that decided you needed to have a certain talent
>for driving in order to drive. Most would call this elitist and I
>would say they were right.

Again your analogy is faulty.  If we were to weave CSS into your analogy,
it would be like saying anyone in the world should be able to manufacture
the facade for the internal and external of the car... which is, patently
absurd.  Anyone who takes the time to learn it should be able to do it.
And those people either enjoy it or have a gift for it.

>And head over to the HTML camp; it was designed so that it could be
>used by everybody. They can chew you out.

Err, all I was trying to imply was that HTML isn't entirely obvious right
away.  You have to know what tags are depricated and about seperation of
style and content...  I just don't think that would come naturally to any
old shmoe, and I think you know it.  Just for some reason you have a beef
with CSS.  <shrugs/>

>I'm thinking you misunderstood something. I was saying that people who
>post here have been using the CSS box model so much, that when they
>think of layout, their own internal model is heavily influenced by the
>CSS model.

Ahh ok.  Well, I'll be the first to admit that the default IE model makes
more sense to me, but whatever.

>I have before in other posts. I usually post some idea about every 2-3
>months. Above is a smattering. But beyond that it's not usually the
>job of a usability person to design, it's there just to comment on the
>design and to provide guidelines. If the design doesn't meet the
>guidelines it should have a good reason why it doesn't.
>
>I do by the way, but I work it from all angles. And how does blaming
>Microsoft help you? I'll leave it at that.

All I blame MS for is not implementing CSS yet.  They've had 4 years to do
so and haven't bothered.  They won and then relaxed.

>I don't know how many times I can specify how I would change it. If
>you're looking for a written proposal, that I haven't done, but I have
>submitted ideas consistently.
>
>As for the stand that I'm arguing for what I want, I'm not. I'm
>arguing for what I feel users want based on user studies and
>observation of users. My use case is completely different. I'll see
>about putting together a proposal, but don't wait for it to start
>discussing alternatives.

Ok Orion.  As I said before, unless you have real statistical data to
support this stuff, then I don't know what position you're arguing from.
As I said before, I doubt the smattering of CSS users that either of us
knows even scratches the surface of the general consensus in the real
world... so... again unless you have some serious stats to back this up,
you're just flailing in the wind with an "I don't like CSS" stance.  Which
really doesn't help much.

As for the types of changes you'd like to see made:  I'm personally a
visual person, and would rather you actually type out the code (or
something close) and give us why you'd do it and what affect it would have.
Doesn't have to be too indepth, just... you know... defined a bit.  Not a
"I'd do something kind sorta along these lines, maybe... possibly."

Kris
Received on Friday, 1 July 2005 22:52:26 GMT

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