To Hell with Bad Web Designers

There's this idea floating around that you can either follow web standards or you can be a degenerate Microsoft-lover and design only for Internet Explorer (IE).

That's a false choice. Clueless designers do tend to fall into the IE-only camp, but that only makes the web standards folks more infuriating: they should know better. I use web standards as much as possible, but if I need to use something one browser understands, I will as long as it doesn't screw up other browsers.

Web designers need inform their clients how their site works in different browsers. It should be in the contract, to avoid misunderstandings when the boss's cousin cruises by on his 386 with Windows 3.1 and Netscape 3.

But I don't mind sites that are less pretty but still useful in old browsers. What I do mind is telling users their browser sucks. The blurb on the A List Apart site is typical, and has inspired others: "This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device." That's nearly as bad as "This site optimized for Internet Explorer" or the rarer "This site designed for Netscape, Microsoft sucks!!!" blurb.

Just show them the damn page already. Why insult your audience? Because you're waving a web standards banner? Do you think the user cares that you followed some amazingly boring rules about how it should work? Do you think the average user understands, other than to be insulted?

This is blaming the user re-invented. If there's one central tenet to user centered design/usability, it's not blaming the user. That's the philosophy: make the technology fit the user, not the user change to fit the technology. The browser elitism from the web standards people does not mesh with that.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, July 8, 2002 (Link)


Posted by Anonymous Friday, July 12, 2002 at 03:23 AM


You make a great point about what I call the W3C Nazis, touting their banners on their sleeves like a 'born-again' Christian wears "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior" on his/her sleeve.

While I also somewhat agree with your point regarding making technology fit the viewers, one must be mindful of exactly what their end result is in relation to technological plans for a site. To even waste 1 iota of a second worrying about losing viewers using any browser prior to version 4.0 or Windows 95/98 is absolutely ridiculous and offers the same ignorance as the W3C Nazis.

HELLO??? IF SOMEONE CAN'T AFFORD BUYING A PC FASTER THAN A 386 (a measly $300 these days will buy a more than adequate, brand new machine), WHAT THE HECK KIND OF ROI SHOULD I EXPECT FROM THEM ON MY E-COMMERCE SITE???

This important point is missed by many "design for everyone" Nazis who fail to live in the present moment. The e-landscape is constantly changing. Many e-tailors practically give away PCs. If someone is using Windows 3.1 or a browser version prior to 4.0, they either simply aren't that interested in computer technology (which includes the big WWW) or they can't afford to spend $300 on a new one. And I should expect my clients to waste their money paying me to design for browsers that were developed more than 7 years ago?

There's also a funky little technology called LOGS. In the last 3 years, I've not seen more than a 1% average of all viewers on my clients' sites using anything less than a 4.0 browser, and in fact, IE, as we all know, dominates with over 85% market share. Any fool that disagrees with this is speaking hypothetically--I've gauged this over 50 sites of mine in a 3-year time period and found them all to reveal identical data.

The "design for everyone" philosophy has its place for sure, and I spend time going through everything I create using Netscape 4.01 and Opera 5, just to see if I can complete an order and the design looks pretty close to the always intuitive IE. If W3C's Bobby shows my site looks crappy with NN 3, tough cookies--everyone has a choice, so don't play the infinitely tiring "Cry Me a Disparate Browser" tune on my fiddle.

The show must go on.