Advanced Techniques by Joe Gillespie

by Joe Gillespie — Mar 1, 2000

This month, I have a major new featurein WPDFD. It is the first of a series of 'Masterclasses' on aspects of Web page design. This one is called 'Advanced Techniques' but there will be something for newbies too, at a later date.

Before telling you what the advanced techniques are all about, let me give you a little background.

Being primarily a graphic designer, I am more interested in communication and less in 'razzle dazzle' gimmicks. I'm sure you have seen countless movies that are just catalogues of whizzy special effects with lousy acting and no story. There are lots of Web pages like that too. Special effect can't replace content. Content benefits from good presentation - that's where the 'design' comes in.

I enjoy the process of 'pushing the envelope' of tried and tested technologies rather than experiencing the 'thrill of disappointment' of newer ones. I avoid anything that is browser-specific or requires the use of plug-ins because, frankly, I don't need them, and I can reach a wider audience without them.

While it is true that the majority of surfers now use version 4 or later browsers, there are still millions of people that don't. Millions matter, and their money is as good as anyone else's if you are selling something on the Web.

The biggest problem I've had putting this section together is with implementing Cascading Style Sheets. I use both Adobe GoLive and Macromedia Dreamweaver to put these pages together. I find that GoLive does a creditable job with Style Sheet editing but Dreamweaver I loathe - in that respect anyway.

I check the pages out in Netscape and Explorer on PC and Mac. You would not believe the differences in the style sheets required for these four browsers to display similar results. I have made the style sheets downloadable so that you can see the effort required.

Even having gone to all this effort, I have no doubt that some people are still going to have problems. The moral of this is, if you don't want problems, don't use Cascading Style Sheets. Of all the non-proprietary technologies available on the Web today, this is surely the flakiest! But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it's called SVG.

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