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The web as craft or assembly line (part 2): The soul of the web


The other side of the argument is that we've let the web become boring. We've lost the whimsical designs from the early days.

Examples like the Space Jam website, from 1996, show what earlier websites looked like:

Space Jam website, circa 1996
Space Jam website, circa 1996

As much as some of us hated it, tables for layout had their use :)

Dave Ellis' All Websites Look The Same and Sarah Drasner's In Defense of a Fussy Website ask two different but related topics: the sameness of our websites and the need for some level of whimsy on the websites we build.

It doesn't have to be a big thing. It could be just as simple as the top right corner of the screen doing something different when you interact with that portion of the screen (and nothing at all when you don't).

It could also be a design that moves away from a box/column layout and lets itself be more engaging and attractive to users without the need for a lot of extra code.

Why can't the web be like print? #

Ever since we've had a commercial web the talk has been "the web is not print" or a variation thereof. The web is not print, true, but that doesn't mean that we should limit our uses of the technologies that make up the web.

In her presentation about the nature of web layouts, Jen Simmons walks us through the history of layouts on the web and how they have evolved and we have not taken advantage of them.

She goes on to show how newer CSS technologies make it possible to break out of the current layout ruts we're in.

Andy Clarke's Inspired by design series presents interesting takes designing web content and how to apply design techniques to web content.

Likewise, Jen Simmons shows how can we make accessible magazine-style layouts on the web and how to make them responsive to keep them working in smaller form factors.

What I found particularly interesting from Andy's presentations is the concepts of compound grids, the idea of combining 2 grids of different sizes, and using the resulting grid in our designs.

CSS has opened a lot of creative opportunities for us to use. Most of the time we don't even have to code workarounds, the way things work without the enhancements still provides a good user experience.

It's up to us to explore these new opportunities and leverage them to create better user experiences.

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