Why this site has almost no design

July 1, 2005

This blog, indeed all of my web pages, have essentially no HTML 'design' as such: no stylish markup, no fancy colour schemes, no fonts, nothing. This is because I'm not a graphics designer and I'm honest enough to admit it.

Not doing any sort of HTML design leaves things up to the browser. I certainly hope that browsers have better designers than me working to make their default behavior good. (And if not, it's not my fault.) Also, it's easier for you to change your browser's defaults than to change my design, so the more I leave to your browser the more you can fix.

I could try to design by seeing whether the result looks nice to me, but how it looks to me in my browser doesn't necessarily say much about what it'll look like in yours. If I was a graphical designer I'd have the tools to step beyond simple 'looks good to me' criteria to the underlying principles that create clear, readable designs, but, well, I'm not.

The web world already has enough half-hearted, half-considered, annoying design without me contributing more to it. So I don't. (Mostly. You may notice that there's a little bit of CSS and design here and there.)

I'm not alone in not being a graphical designer. Perhaps your pages could do with a little less design, too?

(To pick one frequent irritation, do you really need to specify the font? I guarantee you that it doesn't look the same on everyone's browser. Plus, are you sure that your font and font size is the best choice for everyone, including those people whose sight is going and who have thus cranked up their default font size in their default, nicely readable font?)

Sidebar: what about educating myself?

There are books, no doubt good ones, that will teach me the basics of good design. (Joel Spolsky, for example, likes Robin Williams' The Non-Designer's Design Book.)

But there's a big difference between the basics of a big field and really knowing the big field. If I had to do design, I'd read one of these books so I'd at least be partially educated. Until then, however, I would rather skip design entirely instead of doing a half-hearted effort.

Written on 01 July 2005.
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Last modified: Fri Jul 1 03:00:50 2005
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