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developing like a duck July 31, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Technology Trouble.
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Last night, just to reassure myself that I’m not a horrible web designer*, I sat down and built myself a personal homepage using only CSS for layout. There isn’t a single table tag anywhere in the code.

And then I breathed a sigh of relief: I really do know how to use CSS to lay out web pages. It’s just that my company builds pages that aren’t compatible with basic web technology.

Example: yesterday I was assigned to build a new microsite within our main site umbrella. So I opened a new document in Dreamweaver, brought in our usual includes for navigation and metadata, and began coding.

And quickly discovered that CSS layouts are only compatible with our sites to a certain point.

In the end, I had to use about twelve tables to make sure that all the borders were correct and all the gutters remained constant. Then I had to code CSS hacks to make the site work in non-IE browsers, because of course management only has IE on their computers. I swear the day I quit I’m going to put a CSS hack that says “if you’re using IE, you need to switch now, because IE sucks”**. That’ll teach my company to be cross-browser compatible.

duckI’ve often complained to my co-workers that I can’t use anything I’ve learned to make our websites better — without server upgrades, I can’t use new versions of VB.Net; without commitment to cross-browser compatibility, I can’t design CSS layouts; without managers who understand design, I can’t implement 21st-century design principles. All I can do is keep bashing websites together, making them look nice on the top and forcing them to paddle madly underneath — all of my sites look like what the clients want. I just wish the back-end didn’t look like this:

wirecabinet

http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

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* Don’t hold this page up as an example of my design. It’s a WordPress template. I just selected it off a list.

** Hey, Microsoft, don’t sue me for that. I don’t have any money.

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