Web Design… Feh!

I am a graphic designer and as one I accept all kinds of jobs. I am currently pretending to be a web designer for a client and I have to say, web design still really sucks. Although the browser wars have temporarily issued a ceasefire, the tools in which enable people to create web pages are barbaric. It’s still like building a house with a measuring tape that has missing numbers and uses both inches feet and millimeters.

It has definitely gotten better.

Before starting this sadomasochistic process I picked up a copy of Jeffery Zeldman’s Designing with Web Standards and found it fascinating. It was a surprisingly entertaining read and very well written for real people who want to use it in everyday applications…. However, even with the new “standards based” tools, the process of web design is terribly technical and best suited to people who received high marks in algebra.

I am a visual person!

Not only am I a visual person, I also have dyslexia (as Naaman often points out my horrible spelling errors). Trying to remember the syntax of hand coding is an exercise in futility. I don’t want to play the game anymore. I want to draw on screen where my text will go and then quickly apply rules on how my text will look and that’s it. The process in web design is completely different, in order to create a box and then make it a certain size, you have to use a set of rules you keep in the back of your mind that will effect it’s position, height, width, etc.

It’s still clumsy.

Hand coding is an archaic approach to any kind of design. This isn’t the same thing as taking out a pencil, because a pencil quicker than drawing on a computer! No, it’s like chiseling into stone with your finger nails instead of using your chisel, because your chisel is big and clumsy.

Web tools are big and clumsy.

Somebody out there should create a web design tool that uses an actual browser engine (Gecko, Mozilla, etc.) to inform the design process. What you would then see on screen wouldn’t be a facsimile of your design, but your actual design rendered as it will appear. Right now Dreamweaver and GoLive both have pitiful html renderers. It’s impossible to see what your design looks like without switching to a browser to preview. This not only takes time, but also requires your computer to use more computing power to complete a design.

When all is said and done, the designs I’m coming up with are 10 times more interesting than they were 5 years ago because of these new technologies, but sometime in the future someone involved in the new web spec should consult a designer and find methods to make the process more design accessible and accessible for future non-programmers to author content.

(and yes, there may be spelling errors. So sue me.)


4 responses to “Web Design… Feh!”

  1. Yep, we've moved from table hacks to CSS box model hacks. I must say that Dreamweaver licks one really large and hairy nutsac, which is what it looks like you're using. What's worse is that it's basically the best visual editor out there.

    Most designers I've talked to eventually resort to mocking up pages using tools they know like Photoshop, PageMaker, and Illustrator. You might give that a try and then once you've got something you like, hack it out using whatever the latest web standards are.

    BTW, if you use Mac OS X, there's a built in spell checker — look under the edit menu. ;)

  2. Ben-I'm totally so impressed.

  3. that looks really good, ben.

  4. I use Front Page and serious web designers mock me for doing so. But it's easy and it uses IE to preview. Check out my site and let the mocking begin.