WPDFD Issue #40 - July 01, 2001
Years ago, a web developer called David Siegel thought of a way of creating (on the Web) the kind of layouts designers were used to working with on paper. These layouts fulfilled an obvious need, were an instant success and their use became a sort of standard. The "Killer Web Pages" series which showed us how to do it is now part of Web lore. Not everyone knows it, but not very long afterwards, in 1998, David Siegel recanted, writing "The web is dead and I killed it".
Go into any consumer electronics store and observe the buying habits of the general public. See how they walk up and down the aisles of hi-fi and video equipment looking ever-so-closely at the merchandise. Chances are, they will buy a hi-fi purely on the way it looks and a video recorder on the number of features it boasts. The prime decision-making factor here is 'buttons-per-buck'. The fact that they never get to understand, or use, a fraction of the 'features' is irrelevant.
Accessibility is becoming a big issue with new legislation making it manditory rather than optional. Most of it is just plain common sense. HTML provides for 'Alt' attributes for image tags so that people who have images switched off, or are using a 'screen reader' program, can make some sense of the images on a Web page. Most WYSIWYG editors will allow you to omit alt tags, but you shouldn't, even if the graphic is a meaningless spacer GIF (you don't use those now, do you?) it should say so - Alt="".