WPDFD Issue #86 - March 03, 2008

As the practice of Web design ages, some common rules and "best practices" inevitably embed themselves in the craft. Among these are the processes for using specific types of semantics when coding your site, like using divs as hooks in your X/HTML for your CSS, and making your page beautiful and functional that way. Another is to ensure readability of your site by choosing a proper number of fonts (generally, no more than three or four, and for the minimalist, one or two).

Typography is an important part of Web design. Just like in the print world, your content needs to be readable to your viewers for it to be of any use. As a general rule, you want to make sure your Web site provides as little resistance as possible to the user, and the easier your site is to read, the better. CSS provides three very useful properties to enhance the readability of your site: font , line-height , and letter-spacing .

Recently, I took up a project. A co-worker of mine created a fully standards-compliant XHTML website from the ground up titled HTML for Beginners, which will be released sometime soon. His code was hand-written and it's elegant and functional. On the homepage of the site, he used a three-column layout with a header and footer, and on the interior pages of the site he used a two-column layout. Here are screenshots (the look of the final site may change, hence no direct HTML links): Original design; strict, valid XHTML; top-level page: Original design; strict, valid XHTML; interior page: My project was to take four programs: CoffeeCup Visual Site Designer, Microsoft Expression Web, Adobe Dreamweaver, and Microsoft Frontpage 2003 and attempt to recreate the two designs above.

HTML is hot again. Some time ago the HTML5 promo machine got up to speed, causing a little mini-fuss. In a parallel universe, others are still putting a lot of time and effort into the development of xHTML2. This (public) renewal of interest in HTML caused plenty of discussion, revealing several blank spots in the general knowledge of HTML. This article will hopefully plug one of the most notorious holes shut.

In the first installment, Twelve Things Most Sites Need - Part I , I offered a six-pack of must-haves. Specifically I suggested sites should have a proper navigation menu , a meaningful, well-formed title , a method of contact , a site map , passive accessibility , and standardized markup . Now, as I offered the last six, in the order in which I thunk ‘em up, here is the balance. 7.