22 Oct 2006

Relinqishing control

filed under: journal  :: css  :: design  :: web design

There used to be a time when I would try to style every web page to within a pixel of its life.

Every list had to have custom bullets or different borders and rollover effects. Every widget had to stand out. I would spend long hours trying to force styling of form elements.

But now I want things to be simpler.

Form elements are the first thing. If a form submit button is just left as the browser default, I don't really mind. People understand that it's a submit button and use it accordingly. That's fine with me.

List items. I no longer use little flowers or fuzzy bears or whatever. The simple circles or squares indicate what they are, and that's okay.

That's not to say that I don't like to style my pages, but I'm more and more willing to relinquish control. I think I'm finally escaping the paper designer mentality.

Mind you, it took many years to get to this state, and I think that most people who start out as traditionally trained graphic designers really have a hard time with this.

Take font scaleability for example. I used to specify all my font-sizes in pixels, because I couldn't tolerate the thought of my page looking "different". I now only use relative sizes for fonts, so that they can be sized easily by the browser user. I try to make my layouts look okay with various text sizes, but I know that it won't look the way I made it. That's really okay, as long as the pages work for the user.

Many traditionally trained designers would have a fit at the thought of their carefully crafted page being changed at the whim of the user.

In some ways, I think you could argue that you can be a better web or (or on-screen media) designer if you aren't trained in traditional methods - because you are free from static-media preconceptions.

Am I being too harsh on the traditionally trained graphic designer? I'm not sure, but I've met too many who think in "absolute" terms, that it makes me wonder.

some of my flickr photos