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.

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