Lame excuses for not being a Web professional

Rant time. I need to vent some built-up frustration I get from some of the people and attitudes I encounter in my dayjob, in comments on this site, and when reading articles elsewhere. What frustrates me is that the Web industry is overflowing with lazy, ignorant, incompetent people who do not seem to have the slightest interest in learning how to do things properly.

If you don’t like rants, don’t read this. On the other hand, if you do like rants and have an interest in creating websites that work for as many people as possible, you might enjoy this. Especially if you’re also feeling frustrated by the following excuses that some people have for not always striving to do the best they can.

Visual consistency

Ah, the top graphic designer excuse for making the user’s job harder. Coloured scrollbars anyone? Unidentifiable form controls? Non-recognisable links? Unreadable text? The list goes on. This excuse is normally used by visually oriented Flash designers or ad agency art directors that create design profiles which simply do not work on the Web. Instead of adjusting their design when they are made aware of the problems, they stubbornly push ahead and make users think and work harder than they should have to in order to use the site. If your design - or you as a designer - cannot handle the fact that the Web is the Web, please do everybody a favour and stick to the safety of your printed brochures.

Engaging user experience

Whenever you hear someone mention “engaging user experience”, run. All too often “creating an engaging user experience” on the Web means filling the site with enough pointless Flash bling-bling and/or library-based JavaScript effects to completely ruin any chances of the user actually getting anything done. People who talk a lot about creating a good user experience are more often than not completely clueless about usability and interaction design. Ironic, isn’t it?

Target audience

Having a good grip on the demographics of the people you are trying to reach is obviously a good thing, but every time I hear someone mention “target audience” my spider-sense starts tingling. “Target audience” is a very dangerous weapon when it is put in the hands of the wrong people. It is way too convenient to use it as an excuse for excluding pretty much any group of users. Things you might hear include “Our target audience doesn’t use Macs.”, “We have no disabled customers.”, “Nobody in our target audience will have JavaScript disabled.”, and “Everybody in our target audience has a fast computer, broadband, and Flash.” These claims are, of course, almost never backed up by facts.

Optimising your design choices to make your site appeal to and work well for your main target group(s) is one thing, but you need to have a very - no, extremely - good knowledge of exactly who will visit your site, with what, and under what circumstances, to let those design choices make the site hard or impossible to use for other groups. This is the Web. The only thing you know about who will come is that you do not know who will come.

Statistics

This excuse is very closely related to the “Target audience” excuse, in that those who use it tend to be looking for ways of making the number of people their bad design or development choices turn away seem insignificantly small. This is accomplished by dividing the total number of people who cannot use a site properly into a number of small groups that each may be seen as acceptable collateral damage. Using the statistics defence is letting your (bad) design and/or technology choices determine who your target audience is.

HTML-challenged IDEs and frameworks

Many back-end developers for some reason I cannot understand seem to be completely dependent on having an IDE or a framework create all front-end code for them. It seems like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are all way too complicated for most back-end programmers. And that is really unfortunate since the IDEs many of them use create front-end code that is nothing but pathetic.

Look, it’s very simple. You’re a programmer. You should be smart enough to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. If your IDE or framework produces rubbish for front-end code, don’t let it. Twist its arm to make it produce sane markup.

This is the reality we live in at my dayjob. One of the content management systems we use is based on ASP.NET, with all the sloppy front-end code that brings into the game. We simply work around it. If we couldn’t, we would use something else. So should you. Don’t just accept that your IDE/framework/CMS creates junk by default.

The real world

Some people like to shoot down arguments from people (like me) who want to improve the Web by insinuating that we don’t have real jobs, and don’t build real sites used by real people. Well, let me assure you that I, and everybody else that I know who pushes the same ideals I do, have real jobs with real clients and real deadlines. The difference is that we (ok, make that I - I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth) regard what we do as a craft and have an inner drive to always deliver top quality stuff.

It gets the job done

“It gets the job done” really means “It works with the default settings in my browser, my manager’s browser, and the client’s browser. That’s good enough for me. I want to go home and watch TV now.”

Why are you working in the Web business if you’re not interested in it? Go flip burgers instead.

Some excuses may occasionally be valid

Most of these excuses may occasionally be valid, but only in very special circumstances. The disturbing fact is that in the vast majority of cases when I encounter somebody who is using one or more of these excuses, they are just using them to hide their laziness and lack of knowledge.

One more thing: I know that there are highly skilled Web professionals who sometimes use some of the phrases I have mentioned here. Please understand that I’m not picking on you.

What other lame excuses are there?

Translations

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Posted on April 10, 2007 in Web Standards

Comments

  1. It would have been interesting to see your response to all of these as I believe they’re false for a number of reasons (as I’m sure we’re likely to agree):

    1. Visual Consistency: as a designer, you should be solving problems, not making things look pretty. If you’re not making it easier for users, you’re creating problems, not solving them. That means you’re not a designer.

    2. Engaging User Experience: engaging is good but not at the sacrifice of usability. I’ve seen simple stuff confound people and this ties heavily into #1: if you’re making it more difficult, you’re part of the problem.

    3. Target audience: it’s okay to include features that will only be used by the target audience but obviously shouldn’t exclude those who aren’t within the target audience. Besides, you never know when those outside will become the target. You could always use this analogy: if you had to hit the bulleye on a dart board, would you simply remove everything but the bullseye, assuming you can hit your mark every time?

    4. Statistics: they only prove how people use your site now, not how they want to use or how they will use it. Change the environment and you change your statistics. For example, if you build a site that looks like crap in anything but IE, would you be surprised if all your users are IE? Does it then make sense to continue to build a site that only looks good in IE?

    5. IDEs: yeah, honestly, I don’t get this one. Know what you’re building. Sure, use an IDE all you want but understand what it does and how to fix it.

    6. The real world: whoever says this is being an ass. Call them out on it.

    7. It gets the job done: this is a tough one. It manifests itself in the 80/20 rule, as well. See also: the “simple” mantra of 37signals and the idea of “less features”. Often times we’ll hide behind these ideas as ways to avoid doing work.

  2. April 10, 2007 by Roy Tomeij

    I totally agree with you.

    It’s really unbelievable how many “web professionals” there are who just don’t care about accessibility (or just don’t know how to write accessibile markup, and therefor say they don’t care). Nowadays they tend to care for more than just IE, but “alternative user agents” are still things they have never heard of.

  3. April 10, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jonathan: Since you already said pretty much what I would have if I had included my responses to each of these I don’t have to now. Thanks. I think I can go watch TV now ;-).

    Regarding “Getting the job done”, sure it can be tough and there are special cases where good enough is good enough. What annoys me are people who, as you say, hide behind it to avoid doing work. Grrr.

  4. The number one excuse I see is that “people can’t see what the code looks like”, or “nobody can tell if you’re using tables for layout or not”. Just because nobody can see it does not mean that it doesn’t make a difference!

    I think it’s too bad that “engaging user experience” is being associated with pointless bling (in general). I think that creating an engaging user experience is very important and a key task for any designer. However, in reality, good user engagement is very closely tied to usability.

  5. I had a recent client that used all of those excuses and then some to insist she get her way. She was a marketing person who must have repeated the phrase, “in today’s competitive multimedia marketplace, you have to design the site in such a way…” a thousand times to justify lots and lots of Flash and other bling.

    Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the Web, my client’s upper management killed the project.

    But what struck me the most about the experience is if they were so certain they knew the Web, why did they hire me to design a new site for them?

  6. April 10, 2007 by tzmedia

    Here’s a good one… My beta softwares expired, so now I’ll have to go on making websites with Frontpage. How Web Un-professional is that, lol.

    Seriously nice rant Roger, hope you are feeling better, if not rant some more, but you probably should stop bashing your head against the wall soon. The world may not change soon enough to prevent more unadulterated ranting… ;)

  7. Here’s an excuse I hear a lot, “there’s nothing wrong with table-based layouts.”

    Great rant. There are endless resources out there, but like you said, people are lazy.

  8. April 10, 2007 by Jason

    Fantastic rant.

    My biggest gripe is that so many “designers” believe having visual consistency means stifling their creative talents. Consistent doesn’t equate to boring!

  9. “there’s nothing wrong with table-based layouts.” I’ve heard that quite a few times in combination with “and CSS is too hard/takes too much time to learn.”

    that, and the blank stare, as if one were speaking esperanto.

  10. Web industry is overflowing with lazy, ignorant, incompetent people who do not seem to have the slightest interest in learning how to do things properly.

    Web industry? Welcome to the world.

  11. Great rant. Spot on.

    One excuse I’ve heard from two colleagues is that “CSS-P is just not ready for prime time”. We’ve had many an argument on this absurd assertion, and I think that statement is more a reflection of frustration from trying to learn a new way of doing things. I keep stressing that it’s worth it to do it right.

    Look, it’s very simple. You’re a programmer. You should be smart enough to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. If your IDE or framework produces rubbish for front-end code, don’t let it. Twist its arm to make it produce sane markup.

    This is the reality we live in at my dayjob. One of the content management systems we use is based on ASP.NET, with all the sloppy front-end code that brings into the game. We simply work around it.

    Roger, I feel your pain - we’re a Microsoft shop at my day job, and sometimes very often it’s tough to stomach the code that .NET produces. Thankfully, those doing programming have seen the light and stopped using the drag-and-drop controls in Design view, so it’s been easier to work with.

    I’m hearing a lot of “my manager won’t let me take the extra time on the project to learn a new way of doing it”, referring to CSS-P and the like. I’m Not sure about anyone else, but I didn’t get started with CSS-P and standards on the job, with clients on the phone; I got started at home, on my own time. Again, it’s worth it, to learn how to do it right.

    But I guess that’s the key to all this - recognizing the value in making sites and applications compliant, accessible, and usable. I think it’s our responsibility to do so, not just good practice.

  12. Man, you must be in a good mood right now… :-)

    Reading this is like reading a diary of what a lot of us encounter each and every day. Will it ever change? Probably not. But as long as delivering quality (usually) do pay off, at least in the long run, I will continue to do my best. If others don’t, I will point out their mistakes and back it up with facts, and I expect no less back from them.

    Long live people who actually give a damn. The day you stop caring, you need to look for another profession. Seriously.

  13. And oh, what will your next post be?

    “Roger goes postal”? :-)

  14. Well said. Very very well said.

    buys Roger and Jonathan a pint

  15. “People who talk a lot about creating a good user experience are more often than not completely clueless about usability and interaction design. Ironic, isn’t it?”

    Wow. And here I was thinking that you were ranting against stereotypes, generalization and oversimplification.

  16. @Christian RE “what struck me the most about the experience is if they were so certain they knew the Web, why did they hire me to design a new site for them?”

    It would have been interesting if you’d asked exactly that.

    The trouble with dealing with clients is that they have to be ready to deal with you, or else it’s going to be a painful experience which, more than likely, will be ineffective at what the client wants anyway. Why am I so sure? Because if they’re so blinkered about listening to and understanding their hired developer/designer, then they’ll almost certainly be just as blinkered over their clients and what it is they think they need.

  17. Just a note : if you need to fix the IDE or framework you use… there’s just no point in using it in the first place, since a framework is supposed to help you save time (and no lose time), isn’t it?

  18. April 10, 2007 by Sync

    Ack tell me about it, currently I’m working with a freelance programmer/developer (php, asp, dynamic/backend stuff) at work. He couldn’t care less about the markup his stuff outputs into my thoughtfully coded websites!!! He claims to be a web professional but only gives a shit about half the job. I’m only new at the company too so it’s all out of my control who we use and they seem very attached to him.

  19. Hello!

    You go Roger, I’m definitely with you on this one. God read as well since I’ll start working on a new place in a couple of weeks witch seems to be filled with these kinds of arguments! Plenty of unnecessary AJAX buzz running through the corridors I’m afraid…

    No worries though, my gun is loaded with powerful arguments and I will bring standards to this new place…or get canned quite possibly :)

  20. April 10, 2007 by Alejandro Moreno

    Great rant, Roger.

    Microsoft actually has a pretty decent document about building accessible sites with ASP.NET 2.0 that I have found useful (yes, awful URL notwithstanding). Although there is, at least, one ugly paragraph about building pages that are not crippled by a lack of javascript:

    Unfortunately, this guideline is difficult to follow when building a modern Web site. The assumption seems to be that Web sites are more like magazines than applications. Modern Web sites tend to include dynamic, client-side content. For example, many real estate Web sites include a JavaScript mortgage calculator. It is not clear what the text equivalent of a JavaScript mortgage calculator would look like.

    To that I can only roll my eyes and sniff out the offending controls. But you are right, ASP.NET 2.0 can be worked around. (It just sucks when I have to the working around for other people’s “finished” code.)

  21. Excellent Rant.

    It’s incredibly frustrating to hear developers refer to themselves as a professionals when all they do is slap something together in a WYSIWYG editor and have no idea what actually goes on in the mark-up.

    Thanks for speaking up!

  22. Great rant. I agree with all of them. As you said, all of these are once in a while valid reasons to do a particular thing, but more often than not, they’re used out of laziness.

    I started to come up with my response to this, and then found Snook had pretty much already said what i would have. So, nice job to Jon, as well. :)

  23. Brilliant!
    I experience this way too often.

  24. I couldn’t agree more with the section “HTML-challenged IDEs and frameworks”. I have had experience working in an environment where no one knew or wanted to know javascript “javascript sucks” was the general consensus, the end result? A slow and buggy front end generated by realms and realms of drag-and-drop web controls.

  25. Roger, I suggest that you get used to the idea that many designers (most of them) are not nearly as professional as you would like them to be. I began programming computers in the early ‘70s - IBM mainframes and punched cards. At first, when I couldn’t figure out some bizarre code, I thought it was my fault: I was simply unable to understand the logic of the code. Ever so gradually, I came to understand that many programmers simply didn’t grasp concepts that were easy for me to grasp. Half of the people in the world are below average in intelligence, and some of them are web builders. Trying to convert the mass of humanity is a loosing battle, in any context.

  26. Look, it’s very simple. You’re a programmer. You should be smart enough to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

    I dunno. I’d hope an ASP.NET developer wouldn’t expect me to learn C# to her level, and likewise I wouldn’t expect her to understand how many of Internet Epxlorer’s CSS bugs apply to each version.

    You’re totally right that decent developers show a willingness (nay, a compulsion) to learn, and that bad IDEs and frameworks need to be worked around (and ain’t ASP.NET just a riot in that department, eh?) I would hope that every programmer can grok the content/presentation/behaviour divide just like they get the model/view/controller pattern.

    But I think meeting the programming guys halfway, rather than simply telling them to go learn the client-side stuff, is the way to go. At least I hope it is, else I’ll be out of a job :)

    Sorry, I know this was a rant. It was a good ‘un too.

  27. April 11, 2007 by Rory

    Enjoyable rant.

    There are many of us who are hopefully on our way to being web professionals, but are still in the process of learning how to do things right. The major problem we face is figuring out exactly what right is, and who to trust to let us know.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that I can trust you.

    So - if I use a table in an HTML email for layout, am I lazy?

  28. Time.

    It’s the single biggest excuse I hear at work for not being allowed to be perfectionist. I constantly have to figure out ways to achieve the most perfect code out of the time that is given to me… and sometimes, I shamefully have to compromise.

  29. On IDEs and frameworks, I have worked on many project driven by IDE and I can say absolutely 100% that none has anything to do with the user accessibility or web standards. It is more about the CIO/IT manager’s brilliant idea for IDE which feeds their ego.

    In truth, 80% of the time the budget is blown out of proportion due to the restrictions set by frameworks that simply does not work. It just becomes a behemoth project moving slowly to its budgetary death.

    Good rant Roger!

  30. In truth, 80% of the time the budget is blown out of proportion due to the restrictions set by frameworks that simply does not work. It just becomes a behemoth project moving slowly to its budgetary death.

    This is so true in the behemoth corporate worlds of Java, ASP, .NET, and so forth. Thank God in the open source world we have lightweight, fast, and scaleable frameworks like Rails and Django that not only make development much faster and easier, but also are totally agnostic about (and don’t pose any limitations on) your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  31. Great rant indeed and I am sure most people who have posted have said similar things (usually less nicer than above).

    In my day job I have had those problems and they usually with the web manager above me who lives back in the late 90’s and now that can be greatly frustrating. A great example is that we had to create a java code to add a / on the end of all images as in IE 7.0 it would not work..

  32. about ASP.NET and C#: lets just say you have to rewrite each single component to get some proper working results, which are up to date to nowadays CSS and XHTML code hacking.

    cu, w0lf.

  33. @Roger:

    Great rant, as usual!

    @Aaron:

    Couldn’t agree more! The world is full of mediocre work. If you’re above average, you already stand out above the rest. I feel a rant on mediocrity coming on…

    @André:

    The problem is that if we don’t invest the small amount of extra time to do it right the first time ‘round, problems will surface later that we or our successors will have to deal with. In the long run, doing things right saves us time.

  34. I love a good rant, and this is a nice one. The point about visual consistency is well taken.

    I work on a lot of small retail sites and always explain to them that it’s advantageous to make the experience of visiting their site and purchasing from them very transparent - they don’t want to make the potential customer think too much or have to figure out what they should do next, or how to get from one place to another.

    People expect certain things from those kinds of sites, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many ways to make a site aesthetically unique and attractive while still paying attention to those ‘conventions’ of online shopping.

    This goes back to that target audience thing, too…

  35. Lovely rant. I have one of my own brewing about the crap that some outfits release for use on a vast number of web site dragging them down into the muck in the process. Sorry, I digress.

    It’s funny, I just came from a site that had underlined words, not inserted, for emphasis, that weren’t links. They were the same color and style of the content links and I ended up being confused as to what was a link and what was not. I left.

    That last part is all-telling I think. I left. I suspect — hell, I hope — that as more sites become easily usable to real people and accessible to all audiences (no targets, that one really gets me too, by the way), users will demand better web site in the best way users can: The will leave the hard-to-use sites and visit the ones that are a breeze. With more and more accessible, usable sites each day, the greater the number of choices there will be available to users. What follows is a natural migration. Then, of course, widespread adoption. In the meantime…

    You’re helping by keeping the information out there and contributing to the “more and more accessible, usable sites each day” part, Roger. That’s a good thing.

  36. April 11, 2007 by Tommy Olsson

    Good points, Roger. I agree with all of them, and especially the one about backend programmers. I see this every day at the office. We’ve got people who know Java inside and out, do object-oriented analysis and design as a matter of course, and can even get their heads around monstrosities like the Struts framework. But HTML seems to be beyond them, and you can just forget about CSS.

    One argument you didn’t mention, that I encounter quite often: “But Google and Amazon aren’t standards compliant and they seem to do rather well. Why should I bother?”

    I know lots of people equate success with revenue, but I think a professional should consider other factors as well (like quality). There are no pockets on a shroud, after all.

  37. I agree with you - people should be learning to build the web the correct way or they shouldn’t build it at all.

    What you said about back-end-programmers not being able to build html is sometimes true for the designers also. Html may sometimes fall outside anyones responsibility…

  38. April 11, 2007 by Steve

    What most “none” web professionals forget is that at the end of the day the most important thing to remember is that we need to serve the client with a semantically structured HTML document, anything else is just topping; even the CSS. I for one feel that before people are allowed to list “web designer/professional/developer” on their resume, they should be means tested…

  39. Yeah… I agree with pretty much the whole lot.

    But here is an exception (in case you need to prove the rule): For corporate intranets you MAY know exactly what technologies your users have.

    Also, I feel a bit sorry for the name calling .NET gets. Sure it’s not perfect, but it is a darn useful tool - you just have to use it in a particular manner to get the best out of it.

    And what is increasingly apparent is that in order to write web applications, you need to be fluent in - HTML, CSS, Javascript (possibly still optional), Some server-side technology AND Database design.

    …perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised that some people struggle to bolt on the additional “web standards and accessibility” module? (that’s not to say it shouldn’t be bolted on, but just that while it may be easy to write websites, it’s not so easy to be a web professional)

  40. April 11, 2007 by tripleshift

    i know i am being redundant but, roger, kudos and THANKS for this rant.

    really!

  41. I love the smell of a fresh rant in the morning!

    Good to see that someone is getting it off his chest, and we can all agree here and feel better about it.

  42. and CSS is too hard/takes too much time to learn.

    This excuse is true of my designer/colleague who know nothing about CSS! I asked him to learn CSS but he is way too stubborn!!

  43. April 11, 2007 by Stevie D

    The comments here seem to have most of the things I’ve heard pretty well sewn up…

    Mostly it’s down to being in denial about the value of standards-based design. They simply don’t understand the benefits of it. As someone else said “Amazon and Google don’t validate, so why do I need to?” - they won’t bother to find out any more than they think they need to know. And inevitably, they don’t know what they don’t know.

    Yes, some of them will have heard that CSS-P is considered to be better than layout tables, but even if they accept that, they say that CSS-P is too difficult for them to learn, that current browsers don’t support it properly, that it takes much longer to write, and that it’s impossible to get a consistent rendering in different browsers. All of which, as we know, is wrong, but they will look at us when we try to tell them, first sceptically then patronisingly, and reply that it might be OK for very basic sites but it wouldn’t work for anything as complex and sophisticated as what they need it for.

    Essentially, it comes down to laziness and ignorance. Ignorance is forgivable, if the person is aware of their shortcomings and would like to better themselves. Laziness is not - as you say, if you don’t care, why not go and flip burgers?

    PS - good rant :)

  44. Very well said. Just yesterday this conversation was had in the office. The ability to not be able to close a tag is quite ridiculous.

    Something I would add is how people associate higher cost with accessibility/usability. When really it is just doing something a way it was intended.

    I saw the light a couple of years ago and have no desire to turn back to the dark ages.

  45. Tommy Olsson wrote:

    There are no pockets on a shroud, after all.

    I like that, Tommy :-)

  46. All of my responses were taken by Snook - but I do have an extension to even that.

    Yes, this is a problem that many of us face and, unfortunately, it probably won’t go away any time soon. The part that frustrates me is it isn’t the developer who suffers - it is the client who suffers from the poor developer. I am dealing with a developer like this now. To him, it is all about making money. He looks for quick shortcuts, templates, other people’s code to get a job done - just to get a paycheck and go back to watch TV. I understand businesses have bills to pay - but if you don’t know what you are doing, then don’t sell the service.

    For me, personally, my work is a reflection of me. I can’t, ethically and consciously, do something half-assed just for a buck - or fall prey to the many excuses above. I don’t care the price, if I can’t be proud of the work I do - then I won’t take the project. My work is my passion - and I will continue to learn and seek guidance from those more experienced than myself. Maybe I take it too personally - I don’t know, but I think that no matter what your profession you should be passionate about what you are doing. Otherwise, why do it?

    Do you think there will ever be an end to this struggle? I think other professions (especially artists) deal with the same frustrations and I just don’t know how it can go away.

  47. I love your rants, Roger. Keep it up!

  48. Roger,

    You haven’t worked at my company by any chance have you? ;-)

    Rantus Maximus

  49. So true. I agree completely.

    I translated your rant into German. Hope you don’t mind.

  50. I teach standards-compliant web design for a Professional Writing program. I often struggled to find an argument for web standards that appealed to all my students. Until this semester—I had a blind student for the first time. Watching him struggle through Purdue University’s table based homepage was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. And from that moment, every member of every audience I ever code for would be blind.

    I also teach rhetoric—that’s my primary area—so I am also sensitive to people using audience analysis in an attempt to pull of some pretty unethical stuff. To that audience I would say this: four years ago I had never sent more than a few emails in my life. Now I teach standards-compliant XHTML and CSS (and picking up Java as necessary). This stuff takes some time, but its not hard. Navigating a screen reader with JAWS is hard.

  51. Wow, I am amazed at how much I can learn from a simple (?) rant and all of the responses! As being newer to coding and design with CSS and XHTML, I am always looking for information about what I really should focus on for my development. This has helped me so that I can learn more about what is important, and how to counter the “tables are great and easy” BS.

    Thanks a ton!

  52. It is amazing how much my perspective has changed on these topics. From someone who used to be guilty of all of these I can say that i was doing it out of ignorance. I really had no idea what web standards or accessibility were until about a year ago. Sites like this help the education process.

  53. “Watching him struggle through Purdue University’s table based homepage was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life.” - marc c santos

    As a web developer at Purdue, I’ve been embarassed by their site for years (note: I do not work on any of the main sites and thus have little to no influence over getting them changed). I believe a web group has been or is being formed in the accessibility office to address many of the issues Purdue’s sites have (so I was told - can’t 100% verify that), which a definite step in the right direction.

    I recently received an award for “Outstanding contributions to the furthering of Purdue University’s commitment to disability accessibility and diversity” due to the amount of attention I’ve tried to pay to accessibility issues with the sites I work on. I was both flattered and saddened by being chosen to receive the award. Why saddened? Two reasons: First, when I mentioned that surely there was someone more deserving, it was said that I deserved the award for going above and beyond my job duties to pay that extra attention to accessibility. Oi! I’ve always felt that it was a part of my duties, not something extra or an afterthought. The other reason was that I was the only person to receive the award that didn’t specifically work in an disability/accessibility office or field of study.

    By the way, great rant, Roger!

  54. April 11, 2007 by king

    Your rant is completely accurate if your purely thinking of a website as a tool. I agree that in 9 out of 10 websites everything you said is accurate because 9 out of 10 time the website is a tool. But, what about the 1 that isn’t intended to be a tool as much as an experience. In this instance things like an “engaging user experience” are crucial to the site. This may bring up all sort of things that will make you cry such as non-traditional navigation and possibly some load times, and making the user think a little, god forbid.

    Also lay off the print designers. Comments like stick to the safety of your printed brochures show a lack of appreciation for a area of design that has it’s own completely different sets of rules and challenges, and there are just as many bad web designers posing as print designers happy to make things in word, as there are bad print designers posing as web designers.

  55. I feel for what you are stating here. I currently work at a company where standards and accessibility has basically been thrown out of the window.

    Some statements are, well it is not a public website…. Well, it is used by about 1000 users. Are they not public/general users?

    None of our users have visual or other impairments…. I know for a fact that at least one of the users are over 60 and is struggling.

    We do not have the time, just make it work in IE.

    These statements just make me want to go, you do not have the time to do things right? The web is changing, users are changing and getting educated, what is going to happen if 10% of users switch to Firefox?

    You get my meaning. It is a struggle but we have to stand strong in our vision. Eventually the rest will wake up to reality.

    I hope :)

  56. April 11, 2007 by Jens

    I agree that people need to rely less on tools to create HTML and CSS for them. It seems like the rails/dsl crowd is especially deficient of markup knowledge.

  57. i’m no longer into kiss and tell but when a large gov’t site comes out with a redesign which ditches the old skip links with an excuse “we’re just getting the site up and will work on the accessibility later” i do have to get the vomit bucket out.

    needless to say if one looked 12 months later there would be no skip links.

    still, a copy of Nielsen’s book sits on everyone’s desk and they had a usability lab so of course it was all justifiable… “our users don’t seem to use Jaws”… etc

  58. HTML-challenged IDEs and frameworks …You’re a programmer. You should be smart enough to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

    Or smart enough to hire a talented front-end developer to handle your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for you if you’re not inclined to learn it yourself.

  59. Hello Roger,

    While I’m not a professional in the field, I do have a strong interest in it and apply what I’ve researched thus far to personal projects. I don’t have to try to convince middle management or clients on accessibility, but I did have to convince my brother that an all-flash website is one of the worst things one can create. “But it looks cool and flashy,” he retorted. Yikes.

    How do you feel about the website for a book titled “No One Belongs Here More Than You” (via Kottke)? Kottke correctly stated that the website breaks almost every rule for good web design and accessibility, but like him, I was compelled by its novelty, clicked all the way through every image, and actually enjoyed it. I’ll probably never visit again because of the way it’s designed, but it was amusing while it lasted.

  60. Good framework that allows you to have fully XHTML/CSS compliant code: Absolut Engine PHP framework

    It uses code snippets that you can include (copy&paste) in your own XHTML.

  61. April 12, 2007 by Scott

    I used to work for a company that used the “target audience” argument a lot. Six months after a project was finished, we would have to go back and make improvements because a user was having trouble viewing.

    Our in-house Flash person was tasked with redoing the public web site because I was busy. The home page was done entirely with Flash because she couldn’t get the look she wanted with CSS, and our PageRank dropped to zero. Our public web site was the ONLY marketing we had.

    About a year ago, I had the most annoying/interesting argument with someone I was making a web site for. She was annoyed that I used an image replacement technique on the navigation links because it made strange underlines in her browser when she highlighted the entire page. She also hated the CSS layout and wanted table-based instead, because CSS was “proprietary Microsoft technology” that caused the web pages to be “bloated”. She couldn’t have been more opposite.

  62. April 12, 2007 by Marcel Huijkman

    I like quality the most of all things, but some stuff to think about: If you were offered a job/project to make things ‘as good as possible’, would the job ever end? What if 90% is fair enough? What if it is a fixed price project, would you go on and one until the last dotted i?

  63. RE: 54

    “Also lay off the print designers. Comments like stick to the safety of your printed brochures show a lack of appreciation for a area of design that has it’s own completely different sets of rules and challenges, and there are just as many bad web designers posing as print designers happy to make things in word, as there are bad print designers posing as web designers.”

    He’s not bashing print designers. He is simply making a point (one that is proven itself true in many instances). In print design you have certainty. You know the dimensions, you know the grid, you know the typography - you have full control and the user can’t change that. On the web, however, print designers tend to want to have the same pixel precision control over their work. So much so that they throw accessibility and usability out the window and killing an otherwise good design/website (Note: this is not ALL print designers).

    There is nothing wrong with print designers, and I know I have a great respect for them (even learn many things from them) - but it has just been a trend that many come to web and expect the same control. It just isn’t there at this point. If they can’t handle that, then they need to stick to print.

    Again, this is not ALL print designers - but I can be sure it wasn’t an attack on print designers but simply a point being made.

    RE: 62 (Marcel Huijkman) That’s a really good point! It takes a lot of time and energy to make things the best they can bee. This is often not afforded to freelancers as they need to get the job done with the time constraints (and budget). BUT, does that give the developer a right to be lazy and just not do things that should be done?

  64. @Nate:

    I can relate. To me, I pour my heart and soul into making a website. I’m not doing it merely to make a quick buck. A web designer/developer should take pride in their finely crafted work.

    Unfortunately there’s a lot of people in the web industry who are here purely to make a killing, and couldn’t care less if the website collapses into itself as soon as they’ve cashed in the cheque and turned their back.

    I can’t fathom how someone could possibly live with themselves knowing that every time they hand in a piece of work to a client it is the equivalent of a steaming pile of turd, but there you go.

    Oh, and also, back-end developers have absolutely no excuse for incorporating shoddy, error-riddled markup in their apps. First of all, the business logic should be separated from the presentation layer — this is plain common sense. We learnt this in uni, but apparently nobody ever learns, and common sense isn’t so common.

    Secondly, if the developer doesn’t know how to write HTML, then they should leave it to the web designer.

    @Marcel:

    It’s not about an obssessive quest for perfection. It’s not too much to expect a builder to build your house to specification using actual bricks, rather than straw or sticks. All I want is for all web professional to meet a baseline, nothing more than that.

    The sad truth is that the majority of web developers/designers today can’t even be bothered building a website that meets the most basic of accessibility and best practice requirements. And that is due to sheer laziness and lack of self-respect, nothing more.

    Things are starting to change though, and the web charlatans are slowly being dragged kicking and screaming into a new era.

  65. Nice thread! Here’s an excuse that an editor from a local magazine forwarded to me from their webmaster when I made a remark on the use of frames on their site:

    If we would build sites to current standards only 20% of the audience would be able to see/use the site.

    How these people get their clients is simply beyond me :)

  66. And I thought I was negative.

    Use statistics for you to argue that your design doesn’t need to display 100% identically in IE5/Win.

    And ‘It gets the job done’ must be one of the best classifications ever. If I like it and it’s working in various flavours of IE it can’t be all that bad.

    … but I’m not living in the real world and had the privilege to work only for the ends of the spectrum which are smart enough to see the point of good design and those who have absolutely no idea and will believe everything you tell them, even if it’s the truth.

  67. Haha, you got me, I must have used pretty much all the excuses above. But I´m behaving much nicer nowadays.

  68. April 12, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    soxiam:

    And here I was thinking that you were ranting against stereotypes, generalization and oversimplification.

    Nope. I’m ranting against ignorance and laziness. And please note that what I write about here are my personal views, based on my personal experiences, not the absolute truth.

    pauldwaite:

    But I think meeting the programming guys halfway, rather than simply telling them to go learn the client-side stuff, is the way to go.

    Sure, but then they (the clueless ones, not all programmers) need to realise that they are in fact clueless instead of sticking to their “it works in IE so what’s the problem” and “it takes too much time to change the HTML and CSS my IDE/framework outputs” excuses.

    Rory:

    So - if I use a table in an HTML email for layout, am I lazy?

    Hehe ;-). It depends. If you do it because “it gets the job done quickly” then I would say so. If you do it since it is possibly the only way of creating a layout in Outlook 2007, then you’re not lazy but forced into polluting the Interweb by Microsoft. Me, I stay as far away from HTML emails as I possibly can.

    JackP:

    For corporate intranets you MAY know exactly what technologies your users have.

    Right, that’s one of the occasions when an excuse may actually be valid ;-).

    Also, I feel a bit sorry for the name calling .NET gets. Sure it’s not perfect, but it is a darn useful tool - you just have to use it in a particular manner to get the best out of it.

    I think it’s well-deserved though, since it (in combination with Visual Studio) does all it can to encourage bad practices.

    king:

    But, what about the 1 that isn’t intended to be a tool as much as an experience.

    Sure, break any rules and expectations you want if you’re creating “art”.

    Teeves:

    How do you feel about the website for a book titled “No One Belongs Here More Than You”

    Well, that site is more like a story, or a movie. As long as there is suitable alternative text I’d be fine with that.

    Marcel:

    What if it is a fixed price project, would you go on and one until the last dotted i?

    No, but I make sure to get the most important basics right first, and then work on the details until the time is up.

    Erwin: Lol, that is so out of touch with reality :-).

  69. Great rant. It’s good to hear this because sometimes it’s tempting to code with what works, quick and dirty, instead of what’s best for the job. I’m looking for a good standards based, accessible, asp.net CMS. (not kidding) Thanks to comment #20 for the asp.net link.

  70. I have heard all the above. My favorite is when people tell you, “You didn’t say you wanted it to work in all browsers.” I normally come back with, “I didn’t know I had to ask for my site to work.”

    I think most of it stems from laziness. People get into this because they think they can design websites, but if I see one more stock photography image of the colored pencils showing they are “creative” I will vomit.

  71. Great article. I too feel your pain of programmers’ ignorance towards the web. I just recently got a position with a start-up company while attending college. We are working with .NET and my boss insists that I drag “label” controls onto the page, rather than write my own HTML, as he feels this is, what he calls, “best practice.” Oh, the best part? The main “target audience” of the site? Visually impaired (blind) people.

  72. I’m afriad that this problem goes far deeper…

    I work for a university in Illinois as a Web Developer. I am an intern there. We recently conducted interviews in order to find more students enrolled at this university in the Information System’s track to be web developers for my department.

    We interviewed a few people, and gave them a simple html execise that had them create two boxes. Not input boxes, just boxes. The results were horrifying…

    One result was an incredibly incorrect mess of table tr, td, tb (?), and br tags. One result used input boxes (after saying not to use them). Not one interviewee knew what a div tag was. Not one interviewee could even produce a page with correct html, head, title, and body tags. I was shocked. Here’s the big surprise…one interviewee was a graduate student and the other was a senior ready to graduate.

    What happened here? Where are the web standards in the university? This university decided that teaching bloated java web development with gui drag and drop was more important then understanding html, mvc, and good design principles.

    My friends, college degrees cannot be trusted.

  73. April 13, 2007 by Mordechai Peller

    For corporate intranets you MAY know exactly what technologies your users have.

    Right, that’s one of the occasions when an excuse may actually be valid ;-).

    I’d be careful about using that excuse even on an intranet. Sure, you could use it to drop support for outdated browsers like IE6, but to exclude other browsers like Firefox or Safari because all the users are only using IE/Win is shortsighted. I’m constantly hearing of organizations switching to Linux and OSS for the cost savings. If your business critical apps are IE only, you’re locked in.

    Just because you know what is on your desktops today doesn’t mean you’ll know what will be on them tomorrow.

  74. In such debates about this, reference is made in general to education, Royk #73 has nailed it with resepect to standards and what is taught in University. Three years ago I completed an MSc in e-Commerce as a mature student. Most of the new grads coming to the course did not have a grounding in best practice when it came to web development. Nor was it mandatory as part of the course to understand and implement best practice of web development principles, even though web development played a significant part of the course.

    The advance I made in terms of web development skills and good practice, were self self taught along side the main part of the course. This made for a lot of work and effort, which has ultimately paid off for me. It could be argued that at post graduate level this should be the case; much of the work and learning being self driven. It certainly did me no harm.

    This does not however excuse Universities from teaching, at least to undergradate level for appropriate courses, what is best practice. This is absolutely where it has to start.

  75. Imho, there’s a thin line between what cán be done and what should be done.

    At one side, we have the webdeveloper that feels that semantics/code comes first. At the other side we have the designer that wants to make a “pwetty picture” so that possible users are attracted by the design.

    Personally, I think there’s always a golden middleroad. The designer should be aware that (for example) the content should be readable, even if people are colorblinded. As long as the “law of the web” is used, designers should be free to design that “pretty picture”.

    I feel that as long as the designer made something that has everything that a website should have, they’re free to do as they like. With everything a website should have, I mean the points that you mentioned. Recognisable links, readable tekst (preferrably also for colorblind people), and so on.

    But there’s also another point that shouldn’t be forgotten. Back in the old day, there wás no webdesign. It was all tekst, no images and hardly any color. As the web (and therefor webdesign/code) evolved, so did the layout and thoughts on usability. Webdevelopers push the boundries by constantly creating new possibilities (AJAX, Sifr for example). Designers keep pushing the boundries by making the user think before they act. They both have their drawbacks, but it does improve the viewers ability (by a lack of a better word). People shouldn’t overdo the “pushing the boundries” though. But just enough to make the user think ;-)

    Just my personal thoughts though, and what I tend to notice on the web :-)

  76. April 13, 2007 by jacky

    Flip burgers… how about i flip you the bird pal! i happen to like flipping burgers.

  77. April 13, 2007 by London coder

    @Rory comment#27

    Yes, you can trust Roger ;-)

    HTML emails - Absolutely OK to use tables here, and gasp font tags too! What the various email clients will do to the code has to be seen to be believed. As a coder for hire I have to do them from time to time - make sure you open test accounts with all the main web-based email apps. Good luck - you’ll need it!

    Re: the rant - it’s the marketing types that make my blood boil. Why are you paying for my expertise if you then ignore everything I say? I guess I’m just too far down the food chain.

  78. April 13, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    jacky:

    ;-)

    No offense meant by the flipping burgers thing - I just used it as a way of saying “get another job”.

  79. April 13, 2007 by Mordechai Peller

    @75 Joram Oudenaarde

    At one side, we have the webdeveloper that feels that semantics/code comes first. At the other side we have the designer that wants to make a “pwetty picture” so that possible users are attracted by the design.

    No responsible developer would ever say that looks don’t count. There’s no reason a site should look ugly (unless it’s intentional). But once a site decent (even if a little plain), for most sites improving the looks starts producing diminishing returns. At what point will the same effort for less and less value stop being worth it? That will vary greatly from site to site, but the trend is still the same.

    People shouldn’t overdo the “pushing the boundries” though. But just enough to make the user think

    While it depends on the site, for the most part, users keep saying “Don’t make me think.”

  80. I completely echo your sentiment on user experience. The term has become a buzzword, and is slung around by businessmen with no concern for the term’s meaning or implementation, just like the terms “ajax” and “web 2.0”. It’s complete BS.

  81. Look, it’s very simple. You’re a programmer. You should be smart enough to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. If your IDE or framework produces rubbish for front-end code, don’t let it. Twist its arm to make it produce sane markup.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. People earning their living as web developers should at a minimum be competent with what they intend putting in other people’s web browsers.

  82. Nice wrap up of excuses. I am a free lance web designer from I N D I A. I am really obsessive about web standards. I really feel very bad that only very few designers in I N D I A use web standards. Still I see table based layouts with tons of extra markup.

    Thanks a ton to all of the designers around the world whose blogs have helped me to get interested in web standards and really start taking it seriously. I have learnt so many techniques from these blogs.

    Specially thank you Roger for your blog. I read it regularly.

  83. Look at that - 82 replies to this thread already! No one’s even going to see what I write down, this late in the day! This is one subject that I feel very strongly about…could easily rant about forever, and largely feel that you (Roger) are right on track with your comments! With this much feedback - it’s evident that your sentiments are supported by many others…and yet the Web Industry is still plagued by a lack of Professionalism at large.

    Chandra: Why did you write India as I N D I A…? Did India need to be highlighted for some reason? (Just wondering)

  84. The ironic part is that a lot of people are more likely to believe that site was made with an IDE like Dreamweaver rather than hand-coded when the site is visually appealing and usable. The truth is that you really don’t need an IDE unless your markup is so ungodly complex (read: table-based) that you need an WYSIWYG editor to even work with it.

    Excellent rant.

  85. The 2 excuses that really have me pulling my hair out are “there’s not a strong enough business case” and “no, we want to push this change through quickly”. Both excuses are so ‘content-free’ they can be applied to almost any situation.

    Try it. What you’ll really be saying is “i can’t be arsed”, but you’ll be able to say it without fear of being challenged.

  86. @Matt Robin: The comment submission gave me an alert saying you have objectionable content “India” and cannot submit comment. so I had to separate each letter… Sorry for being off topic with this comment.

  87. Chandra: Ah, thanks for the explanation - makes sense now…(although it’s odd that it did that isn’t it?!)

  88. April 18, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Chandra, Matt: Blocking some country or US state names, and in fact entire top level domains, is very unfortunate but something I have had to do to slow down spammers :-(.

  89. I could see why people used to use wysiwyg and such when it was all tables cuz they can be a nightmare to read code wise …

    but css is just so much more logical, flexible and fast to produce that people are really just making more work longterm by being lazy.

  90. Roger: Did you block H O L L A N D too?

    Oh, go on, please block them! :D

    (I understand what you mean though about spam. It’s a shame to take such measures, but if that’s what it takes).

  91. April 24, 2007 by Ian Dominey

    Roger, I have worked in most implementation aspects of the web industry - both back and front-end. What you describe is not unique to “doing it right” for front-end web development. You will find most aspects of software engineering that require effort (design, testing, correctly defining requirements) are skimped on and ignored with excuses much like those you have listed.

    Some days it gets so bad I feel like just walking away from the entire industry.

  92. April 27, 2007 by Haslo D. Mermek

    It gets the job done is the one I use the most!

    And to answer you question: Why are you working in the Web business if you’re not interested in it? Go flip burgers instead.

    I am working in the Web business for win money to live I can not go flip burgers or do anything else like I do have several real clear handicaps and look like a freak.

    I working freelance I never seen or spoken with most of my clients.

    My main client does only use IE 6 and does not want to upgrade like in his mind he and everyone else use IE 6. He does not believe his target group use any other browser not even now IE 7 and vista is out…. he is from a Latin county.

    And he does love flash and want most of the time full flash sites… and next to that he does not want use any other flash player above 7 like that is the one he got installed.

    I try tell him about web standards and even make full standard css layout websites… even try with Ajax. He just shot me down ever time and simple ask me why not can it be in flash my clients want flash…

    So at one moment I just give up and say the hell with it “It gets the job done and it brings me money I need to eat and pay my bils”

  93. Great post - just wish I could live by it more often! Realy like your blog!

  94. This is a must-read for everyone calling him/herself a “web professional”.

    Far too often I hear some ‘web professional’ saying ‘why bother with CSS and all its problems when tables can get the job done in less time.’ Thanks to you, I now know how to answer that.

    btw, Roger, would you mind if I translate it to my language (Indonesian) ?

  95. May 7, 2007 by Vlad Fratila

    Blocking some country or US state names, and in fact entire top level domains, is very unfortunate but something I have had to do to slow down spammers

    You actually do that? Wow, that’s not good for me, as my country spams a lot :P (.ro) You should not need to do that, anyways.

    There were a few rants here about “target audience”. I’m not sure this term must be applied to the website as a functional means of transporting information and thus having target groups that use Flash/don’t have Flash, disable/enable JS etc.

    Target audience is a brand-related term. It means demographics, audience profiles (interests, internet knowledge etc.) Browsing habits may be a part of this, but I would not include them, because you cannot relate an brand-target group to a browsinghabits-target group. I mean, managers aged 30-55, masters degree, city, above average wage do not all use IE7 with Flash 8(by WinXP default). So, when you do targeting for a website, leave the browsing habits aside. Just provide for everyone, like a good web profi does.

    Those were my two pennies (is this proper english?) :)

  96. Couldnt agree more. At the end of the day, there are jobbers and enthusiasts in every profession and their work typically represents their attitude. IMO there is no reason most of the typical objections poor designers use are easily overcome with a bit of thought and I for one am learning EVERY DAY and suggest that if you’re not, then perhaps web design is not for you. Web design is not a static art, it is very much fluid, changing constantly and evolving continually. If you’re not interested in learning and applying your trade professionally, then as you say, ‘go flip burgers’.

  97. I often get to work with “web professionals” who:

    • Are not back end programmers.
    • Are charged with implementing client designs.
    • Do not even know basic HTML.

    I was called in to debug a problem for a site developed by a group of “web professionals”. The problem was that text in one of the columns overflowed the bottom of the layout and overwrote the footer. It seemed every time they wanted to add anything, they added a table and just for good measure put a div in each table cell. The problem ended up being a table cell in a nested table that had a defined height. Non-IE browsers would overflow text past the dimensions of the table height.

    BTW, the problem table was nested 13 levels deep! These are people who say they are “web professionals” and know what they are doing.

    I must say that the worst group seems to be marketing. They want “flashy” looking sites without substance and plenty of “bling”. They don’t understand that a web site is supposed to be used to communicate with its users. If the user is interested, they will stick around.

    I get weary of excuses for substandard work.

  98. Amen, brother. Amen.

  99. May 8, 2007 by Lisa

    I totally agree with Christian Ready above. Most of my clients come to me with “design ideas” and unfortunately I’m required to listen to them so we don’t loose clients (which means loosing money). So I end up developing a lot of sites with horrible designs and terrible code which is unfortunate because over the past 6 years I have developed so many sites, many of which will never be mentioned in my CV.

  100. Ok, I find this rant incredibly naive. I’m an IT professional and believe standards are a great and good thing, but in the real business world, the only thing that matters is the bottom line.

    Managers only care about getting the deliverable out. They could care less if you are W3C compliant - and redesigns are not a high priority. (This is why there are still so many 1990s style corporate styles still.) The only important thing is that the bean counters aren’t after them.

    The core business for a company is much more important than the web site ever will be. And there are industries that are 100% IE or Firefox/Mozilla. Nothing else matters due to the complexity of the applications delivered. Now, my argument is that many of these should never have been “webified” to begin with, but, the Web is still the “in” thing.

    For the most part, time and resources - especially money - are very real issues that trump any standards that are not government mandated. (Sometimes those are ignored if the fine is a “reasonable cost of doing business.”)

    Real professionals realize which battles are worth fighting. The most important battles tend to be the ones that keep your client out of jail - think banks who don’t understand SSL, encryption, and identity management.

    Pax,

    MLO (My blog is personal, not professional.)

  101. May 9, 2007 by maurizio riccio

    MLO,

    I’m with you. This rant is incredibly naive and incredibly obnoxious + insulting. Who is this guy to decide who can call themselves “Web professionals”? We all have our reasons to do what we do. We don’t need the CODE GESTAPO telling us what is acceptable.

    Well excuse me vey much if I can’t or I won’t live up to your standards. I personally find this obsession with code and standards pathological. I can do an OK job WITHOUT getting married to code, get the job done that my employer pays me to do and feed my family. So sue me.

    Plus, who gives a damn? I see planty of websites that are beautifully coded but just plain ugly. I am a visual artist and what pays the bills is wed design. I much rather do motion graphics for a living, but for a variety of reasons, I can’t. But I can still create beautiful web experiences, and, aaaaaargh, do that with tables and spacer gifs! (Strike me dead now)

    Lastly, I find that “flipping burgers” comment extremely elitist and asinine. You, dear sir, need to get a life!

    Maurizio

  102. Lovely rant. Agree with pretty much everything. IDEs? As I said in one of my own blogs recently you can tell Dreamweaver users who don’t understand doctypes dead easily - they either have incomplete HTML 4.01s that drop to quirks mode or they have XHTML 1 and don’t close their tags. Just depends which version of DW they’re using!

    As a CSS specialist it drives me mad to see some of the rubbish code that gets written. CSS is SO much more logical. I was recently giving work experience to the 16 year old son of a friend and in two hours I ditched all he’d learned at school and showed him CSS. He was ecstatic - suddenly it all made sense to him and he ripped up a new site he’d been building and rewrote it completely by the next day. If only the so-called professionals could think so open-mindedly.

    Oh and by the way. The next time someone tells you they can just use nested tables ask them how the site will display on a mobile phone.

  103. May 10, 2007 by Maurizio

    You people are such snobs.

    Can’t you make yourself feel good about what you do and your level of proficiency WITHOUT knocking down and insulting others? Skip the silly rants and encourage others positively. Not everybody can understand code easily. Some people can’t get the proper training and some just don’t care.

    As I said, people have a variety of reasons, some better than others, to design and code the way they do. I don’t think they appreciate a bunch of Code Nazis ranting about them and making them feel bad about themselves. Hey, you know what? Maybe they can’t code as well as you do, but perhanps they might be a hell of a lot better than you as designers. I think the web needs better designers, not better coders. (Typically those two skillset are mutally exclusive)

    So like now, I should quit calling myself a “Web Professional” and go “flip burgers” because I can’t live up to your standards. Well, alot of you here don’t live up to MY design standards. All these CSS web sites I see out there might be cleanly laid out and very legible but are dead boring to look at, and all alike.

    My reasons for my poor practices and shabby coding while calling myself a web professional? I am not a coder and I don’t understand it very well. I can figure out a 3D or video package with ease, but not code. Am I going to continue calling myself a web professional? You betcha. I am pretty damn fantastic at the design and user experience part of it, and it pays the bills. Is it any of your business? NO, Should you rant about it? Absolutely not!

    So all of you code fundamentalists out there, show a little humility. It is sickening to watch you collectively self-congratulate and get high on your perceived superiority. You are not superior to print designers, or for that matter to burger flippers. Grow up.

  104. May 11, 2007 by Ian Dominey

    To all those people who are talking about the ‘naivety’ of this ‘rant’ and those who talk about bottom lines.

    The bottom line is always the first thing to suffer if software (including web sites or web applications) are not developed correctly. Perhaps not in the first few weeks or months of a project but after that your time is up, the cost of maintenance, correction and improvements to the system become exponential if built on a lack of foundations. Feel free to read about Big Balls of Mud. Yes, this is the real world and in ‘the real world’ poorly developed software will massively reduce your profit.

    For those who talk about snobbery. I never put down those who work with or for me. I try to educate them. Not only on how to do things in ‘the right way’ (I accept there are many different ‘right ways’) but also on the reasons of why they should do things this way. Most of them listen to and appreciate the help I give. But then management become involved and do not like or accept the idea that spending an extra two days or a week now could save them weeks or even months of work later. It is those management types that I am primarily annoyed with. For they are the ones who both hire and promote others who have no clue about how to do their job correctly, nor the inclination to learn how to do so.

    And specifically for Maurizio, there are many excellent learning resources available on the web that can help you to learn how to code. Aside from which, learning how to code is not what people are ranting about - that would be a rant on coding styles. It is the complete disregard for web standards that are being referenced here. Why does it matter? How about for users with disabilities. How would you feel if you shouted at a shop keeper for not providing wheelchair access to, say, your grandmother (and I intend no insult here, this is purely hypothetical) and the response you got from him was “I don’t know how to build ramps!” But, and again I am not trying to insult you, that is what your statement amounts to in this context.

    I apologise for the length of this comment.

  105. May 16, 2007 by Kat

    Re: It gets the job done

    I don’t think you should be so quick to dismiss this point.

    CSS 1 as far as I know is the only style sheet recommendation at this time. CSS 1 was written by individuals with no graphic design experience. Positioning came in two months after CSS1 became a recommendation1. Positioning still contains no advanced layout capabilities (source-order independent and flexible).

    Consider some of the problems: David Baron says that using floats should be considered harmful, there is no way to clear absolutely positioned elements and negative margins are arcane (they’ll probably be referred to as harmful soon too). Russ Weakley has implied in his reply to David Baron that without floats, there is no real alternative.

    Even some academics have acknowledged some of the limitations of later versions of CSS (Badross and Marriot, 1999).

    In the light of all this, ‘It gets the job done’ seems pretty reasonable to me. If we want them to get the job done in another way, we’re going to have to offer a tool that does exactly that (source-order independent and flexible advanced layouts).

    There is some hope in the advanced layout CSS3 module, but since it been ten years for CSS 2.0 and CSS 2.1, what is the realistic hope for the implementation time of CSS3 in the majority of browsers?

    1. I don’t know if any of the authors of the positioning paper had any experience with design.
  106. May 27, 2007 by Pedro

    an article that every project manager should read ;) can i translate this article to portuguese(pt_BR) and put in my blog? i think that many people in the web dev market will think better about their jobs after read this

  107. May 27, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Pedro: Sure, as long as you link back here and let me know when the translation is online.

  108. June 23, 2007 by Lua

    Hi there,

    I was wondering if you all could offer some sound advice. Forgive the rant. Im at my wits end about this, but Im not crazy—just had it up to here (my hand’s currently above my head :-))

    I HAVE A MAJOR PROBLEM. i AM AN artists —getting more recognized now AND WAS STUPID ENOUGH TO FALL FOR A CROOKED WEB DESIGNER’S PROMISES TO CREATE A GREAT SITE . I PAID A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MONEY AND ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, THE SHADINESS ENSUED.

    —ASIDE FROM CHANGING my pw, HOW DO I PREVENT THESE GOONS FROM HACKING INTO MY EMAIL AGAIN (Yup! They altered some pertinent email dates/times and responses—even deleted a group of emails in my various folders) AND WHO SHOULD i REPORT THEM TO FOR WEB DISCIPLINARY ACTION?” Does that exist? MSN has been notified but please!

    —These goons took down my site when I finally complained due to them taking over 6 months to do a 50 day site. Please understand, I am VERY detail oriented and provided a contract, hired a lawyer to go over it with a fine-toothed comb and provided a VERY detailed outline about what content should go into what links and sub-links etc. All content given. I basically spelled it all out for a 5th grader.

    The goos at Eyebottomline also had all of my content and refuse to return some of my hardcopy photos, AND they used many of the wrong photos on the site to the extent that the site is NOT visually representing me as I wanted. I AM taking them to court soon, but they need to be reported. Is there some website watchdog…something?

    They also are using the content for my site to place things on the world-wide web. These are MY images of face etc. I ve since contacted some sites but others are Non-responsive. How do I remove these? These are real goons.

    THE COMPANY OR SUPPOSED COMPANY IS

    EYEBOTTOMLINE.COM

    For Anyone out there who even THINKS about using these 2 con-artists (proof that they are exists so it is TRUE, nevertheless its my proven opinion), Think AGAIN!!!

    JUst as their OWN sites exhibit, its more flash than substance—LOTS more. This is the common mistake of Many I hear now. These guys will promise you everything, charge you up the you know what, bully you (yeah, they threatened a woman!) into paying Way before they are close to being done, NOT put your own content on the site—yet fully create the site so that Their stamp is placed but yours is’nt, then Gosh forbit you complain or put your foot down…they will remove yur site without permission and thn HACK your email account to remove emails that may hold them liable in court!!! OMG…they are 2 nitemares. They took over 6 months to NOT create a site then shut it down illegally. Oh, and they’ll try to cyberstalk you by placing unauthorized pics on the net too. BEWARE all future web clients!!!!! These people not only create Bad Websites but are just plain ole’ BAD!!! Justice WILL be served. and what goes around comes around-thats the law of nature.

    Help & Advice requested please.

  109. June 26, 2007 by Maurizio

    I Hate People like You Lua and others out there!!! You people are such snobs.

    Can’t you make yourself feel good about what you do and your level of proficiency WITHOUT knocking down and insulting others? Skip the silly rants and encourage others positively. Not everybody can understand code easily. Some people can’t get the proper training and some just don’t care.

    As I said, people have a variety of reasons, some better than others, to design and code the way they do. I don’t think they appreciate a bunch of Code Nazis ranting about them and making them feel bad about themselves. Hey, you know what? Maybe they can’t code as well as you do, but perhanps they might be a hell of a lot better than you as designers. I think the web needs better designers, not better coders. (Typically those two skillset are mutally exclusive)

    So like now, I should quit calling myself a “Web Professional” and go “flip burgers” because I can’t live up to your standards. Well, alot of you here don’t live up to MY design standards. All these CSS web sites I see out there might be cleanly laid out and very legible but are dead boring to look at, and all alike.

    My reasons for my poor practices and shabby coding while calling myself a web professional? I am not a coder and I don’t understand it very well. I can figure out a 3D or video package with ease, but not code. Am I going to continue calling myself a web professional? You betcha. I am pretty damn fantastic at the design and user experience part of it, and it pays the bills. Is it any of your business? NO, Should you rant about it? Absolutely not!

    So all of you code fundamentalists out there, show a little humility. It is sickening to watch you collectively self-congratulate and get high on your perceived superiority. You are not superior to print designers, or for that matter to burger flippers. Grow up.

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