W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > January 2008

Re: flowing around both sides of a float

From: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Date: Fri, 04 Jan 2008 01:34:02 -0600
Message-ID: <477DE16A.5000302@mit.edu>
To: Brad Kemper <brkemper@comcast.net>
CC: CSS <www-style@w3.org>

Brad Kemper wrote:
> You draw an artificial distinction. Commercial authors exist to satisfy 
> consumer needs.

No, they exist to satisfy the needs of the people paying them.  These may or may 
not correspond with the needs of the people actually viewing the resulting pages.

> Yep. And the good design of important sites can aid in usability, if the 
> author/designer took a lot of care to craft it that way

The problem is that most designers take a lot of care to make the site usable in 
one very particular configuration or narrow range of configurations (combination 
of DPI, available fonts, viewing distance, viewport size, etc).  This typically 
has the effect of making the site less usable in other configurations, with the 
usability becoming worse as you depart further from the configuration the site 
was designed for.

Put another way, most sites are somewhat over-designed.  The problem is that if 
you don't over-design a little bit the site ends up being sub-optimal for the 
majority of your users (e.g. all users get the same user experience and it's the 
one you'd get on a cellphone).  But the amount of over-designing that goes on is 
generally much greater than that.  Simply forcing font sizes to be at a readable 
level breaks many major sites if you use a somewhat high-DPI monitor and don't 
sit right up against it.

> <sarcasm>Yes, clearly giving designers the choice of using color or 
> specifying fonts was a big mistake.</sarcasm>

I think giving designers the choice of specifying font-sizes that are below the 
readability threshold, which they exercise every day, is unfortunate.  Of course 
the problem is that they wouldn't even realize that their fonts are set that way 
in some configurations...  The problems come when instead of doing layouts 
capable of flowing when things like font-size change the designer hardcodes sizes.

Not providing the tools to avoid said hardcoding, and providing tools to enable 
it, is indeed a mistake.

-Boris
Received on Friday, 4 January 2008 07:33:51 GMT

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