Zeldman: If we don’t focus on content, readers will remove our designs

.net’s currently running an interview I did with Jeffrey Zeldman, one of the most famous web designers of them all. The piece regards his recent redesign, which has proved divisive. On first seeing it, I was certainly taken aback by the MASSIVE TEXT and the seriously stripped-back layout. But then on mulling it over for a bit, I decided not only that I liked it, but that the redesign of my own blog probably needed another look.

Oddly, my own unreleased redesign chimes in part with what Zeldman says in the interview. I now do most of my reading in Instapaper and that’s because it strips crap from web pages, and the new layout I’d crafted went part-way there, if not quite as far as Zeldman did. It needs to go further.

To be fair, this blog at least doesn’t have much crap, but it has a few things that are essentially irrelevant (not least the search, which does a worse job than Google at getting relevant content). Elsewhere, though, the web is frequently a mess, with sites bombarding us with tiny text and adverts. The take-home, ultimately, of the Zeldman interview is this:

If we don’t focus on the content the reader came for—if we continue to bombard and bamboozle our users with cluttered interfaces that satisfy stakeholder committees but frustrate the people who actually want to use our sites—our users will retaliate by removing our designs altogether.

In a sense, it’s about the same things that make for good design everywhere: focus; elegance; simplicity. Websites shouldn’t be the modern equivalent of a broadsheet newspaper—cramped design; tiny text; ads peppered about the place. They should be beautiful, usable and, where relevant, entirely new. It’s time to cut the apron strings from media’s past.

May 22, 2012. Read more in: Design, Web design


On web designers dropping support (or not) for IE6

I wrote a piece about IE6 for .net, interviewing Remy Sharp. Sharp argues people should stop banging on about ditching IE6:

We all know IE6 should die. Microsoft knows IE6 should die. Heck, even IE6 knows it needs to die. It’s been walking around like a fucking zombie for years.

He says either don’t support the browser (and potentially lose clients) or just offer support as a separate charge. I agree with this (as might be apparent from the article itself), and it seems most of those commenting do too. My favourite is ‘leegriffin’ with:

You don’t see mechanics saying they simply won’t service that old 1990 Ford Fiesta because it can be a pain in the backside, they just charge appropriately.


August 2, 2011. Read more in: Opinions, Web design

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iWeb confirmed dead by Steve Jobs

According to MacRumors, iWeb is dead:

One concerned iWeb/MobileMe user emailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs to ask about the fate of the offering, and reportedly received confirmation that users will indeed need to find alternative hosting for their sites once MobileMe is officially discontinued. All existing MobileMe users have received free subscription extensions through June 30, 2012, at which time the service will cease to exist and the transition to iCloud will be complete.

Assuming the email is genuine, Jobs replies in typically succinct fashion; the user asks “Will I need to find an alternative website builder and someone to host my sites?” and Jobs replies: “Yep.”

Frankly, this isn’t exactly a shock. iLife was updated in 2011, and iWeb was noticeably unchanged from its 2009 incarnation. The app also didn’t make it to the Mac App Store, unlike iPhoto, GarageBand and iMovie. It’s almost certain that iDVD has also been shot in the head.

I’m in two minds as to the news itself, though. As a web designer, I always found iWeb ‘quirky’ (that’s putting it as kindly as I can) and its fixed-page means of creating sites (and, worse, blogs) seemed anachronistic in an age of WordPress and Facebook. Nonetheless, I know a lot of people who find the application easy to use and they will be disappointed to see confirmation of its demise. Still, this is a good opportunity for the likes of RapidWeaver and Sandvox to grab some users, along with enterprising developers to create iWeb-import tools for said apps.

June 13, 2011. Read more in: Apple, News, Opinions, Technology, Web design

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24 ways for web designers to help themselves; one way to help Unicef

24 Ways has been running for several years now, providing 24 end-of-year articles for web designers and developers. It’s like advent, except the tasty treats are web design tips, not chocolates.

This year, the company is releasing an annual. The idea is to compile everything over the season into an 80-page book, then fire the proceeds at Unicef. The book’s only going to be on sale until the end of December and is looking for sponsorship, so:

December 1, 2010. Read more in: News, Technology, Web design

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Has WebKit killed :visited styles in CSS?

As you may have noticed, this blog got a natty new theme last week. One of the things I wanted to do was make it hugely obvious which links have been followed. I therefore decided to style visited links with text-decoration: line-through. The thing is, this didn’t work. I was baffled, and so stood up, pointed to the sky and yelled: “TO THE GOOGLETRON!”

After my dog did his “what are you on?” face, I ended up finding Apple KB article HT4196, About the security content of Safari 5.0 and Safari 4. It says this:


Impact: A maliciously crafted website may be able to determine which sites a user has visited

Description: A design issue exists in WebKit’s handling of the CSS :visited pseudo-class. A maliciously crafted website may be able to determine which sites a user has visited. This update limits the ability of web pages to style pages based on whether links are visited.

Further testing this morning regarding :visited suggests that the limits in WebKit are now severe. As far as I can tell, this is the list of properties now available to you when styling :visited in CSS:

  • color

Great, huh? (Do leave a comment if you know of any others that work.) And with a good chunk of the world being colour-blind, what’s supposedly a fix for security is in reality also a punch in the face for accessibility.

September 22, 2010. Read more in: Design, News, Web design

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