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Sometimes I wonder…

22nd January 2006Philosophical1 Comment

To those who think that web design is easy and just a little talent and skill can make you famous.  Think Again!  I don’t think there are many self directed businesses that are as fast paced and ever changing as Information Technology.  Moving at the Speed of Change is hard when you are trying to run a business to make money.  Just when you think you got it covered and you can actually apply what you have learned to make a profit, someone moves the goalposts again and you are back into the learning curve. It never stops.  For single propreitor owned businesses, this is an impossible situation.  You will never catch-up, you can never rest on your laurels and experience doesn’t count for much because what you knew yesterday does not matter anymore today.

In contrast, trades and regular service businesses like financial advising or insurance don’t go through near the degree of changes that technology goes through.  Plumbing probably still works the same as it did 20 years ago, there may be a few new tools to use, but essentially things have not changed past all recognition.  Pipes still look the same and water still runs downhill.  Nothing has changed.

So why do I put myself through the insanity?  What is it about this business that still keeps me hanging on by my thumbnails even though I know at any time I could encounter something that I can’t handle, some piece of technology that stumps me, a problem I can’t solve….

Probably the need for change and challenge and the charge I get from helping others would be the biggest factors that keep me hanging on.  I am at my best when I am researching a new marketing idea, figuring out how best to sell a business service or product, figuring out how to sell the idea first to my client and then to the global community.  I like to help others do better.  While I am lousy at taking advice, I hand it out with little provocation and usually my passion and enthusiasm combine to win over even my most cynical and practical clients.  Everyday in this business is a new challenge, a new hurdle to jump and while at times I get tired from all the running and jumping, I get some energy payback when the client finds success from all the hard work.

While I will never get rich at least I am on the path of learning and as long as my ambition is to continue to strive to do better and improve my skills then this business will provide the vehicle and incentive to keep doing so.  At least I will never be bored. 

Designing for the Web

17th January 2006Web Design-

An article in Digital Web Magazine, published on January 9, 2006 by Joshua David McClurg-Genevese, entitled Designing for the Web had this to say:

“In my opinion, the vast majority of constraints in a Web-based environment are brought about because of the limits of human interaction with technology. ”

From a web designer’s point of view I would say that the majority of constraints in  designing for a web-based environment are brought about due to the lack of limits and standards in technology itself. 

Too many platforms, too many browsers, too many devices all conspire to ensure that a design will not necessarily look the same to all users.  Although we try hard with hacks and work-arounds to ensure compatibility, it is an impossible task and often the web designer is forced to default to designing for the largest audience possible based on the target market and his client’s own preferences.

Years ago during the Netscape – Explorer browser wars, standards for the different browsers and how they would display particular options deviated and currently there are still differences between browsers with Microsoft’s Explorer browser still the main villain in this story although this is supposed to finally be fixed in the forthcoming version of Windows.  This deviation between browsers (although Netscape is pretty much gone, Firefox the new kid on the block, is a close cousin) directly accounts for most of the hacks and workarounds that must be applied to most designs today.  What happens when Explorer finally gets rid of those last few differences and embraces the actual W3C standards? Well, it will take a couple of years for it all to shake-down to the masses.  That is where the different platforms and versions comes in.  If you view the browser stats in the Designing for the Web Article mentioned above, you will see that 2 versions of Windows Explorer and Firefox account for 90% of the users.  When the new Windows comes out, upgrading will be a slow and lengthy process as always and it will take time for it to spread out to all users. 

The only way to eliminate the constraints that web designers currently face in designing at least for the different browsers would be to go back in time to the original Netscape – Explorer split and make the two parties shake hands and agree to a common set of standards.  While it may get easier, it will never entirely go away.  This is part of the challenge of web design and what keeps it always interesting and new. 

I enjoyed the Designing for the Web article, it is a good read for beginning web designers and a must-read for clients who are getting ready to launch their first website.