Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 11th Aug 2005 17:30 UTC, submitted by anonymous
General Development Do you think the pixel is the only unit of measurement for building graphical displays? Come on, you can measure better than that! This article offers tips for user-friendly HTML layout and interface design, and explains why pixels aren't always the best unit for the job.
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Not impressed with the article.
by Andre Siegel on Fri 12th Aug 2005 08:46 UTC
Andre Siegel
Member since:
2005-08-12

In my opinion, the author has a very narrow view of the internet and communication via this medium. I suppose he does not work as a designer of websites and/or print media.

He is overly concerned about how websites will look on, say, a 1600x1200 screen (which only a minority of people uses) but does not acknowledge that layout is an important aspect of visual communication. Full control on a website's layout is essential if you want to acommunicate with readers also on a subliminal level and make full use of knowledge gained from psychological studies.

The internet does not just consist of Wikipedia. It is also a platform for commercial entities who must create emotions with the help of sophisticated graphical presentations. Just providing a text feature list and a photo in a corner is just not enough. Full control on a page's layout and a perfectly dynamic design do not go along very well together in most cases, however. You have to decide for either of the two.

Alienating a few owners of highend monitors is just not that important if it allows yourself to improve your communication with the other 80% of your potential customers by a great deal.


I sometimes wonder whether graphics wouldn't be better off if graphics designers and developers had stayed with vector-based graphics.

The answer is: No.

Vector graphics do not make a lot of sense for anything that is more detailed than the average BeOS icon. MacOS X shows quite well that you can mix scaleable icons with photorealistic bitmaps quite well.

I don't get the hype about vector graphics at all. Scaling the very same vector icon from 1600x1200 pixels down to 16x16 so it fits inside a file list, is and will remain a pipe dream unless the icon is barely more than a simple geometric form in the first place.


Some designers use pictures of text as a way to control the layout of words. Don't do it: it's a bad idea. First, it introduces bloat. Second, it makes your page less accessible to people who can't see the pictures. And finally, it makes your page harder to read. Frankly, it's unlikely that you can do a better job of rendering text clearly for the user than a browser can; don't waste your time (or mine) trying.

Why would it make the page harder to read? That is totally subjective. If you use a decent graphics application, chances are that antialiased text is likely to look better (on CRTs)!

Adobe Photoshop can produce better-looking antialiased text than WindowsXP. Period.


Hopefully it will discourage you from creating one of those horrible pages that depends on a large collection of disconnected images all lining up together to form, well, an even larger and uglier image.

Sigh. First the author says that "text in images" is bloat, later he complains that people optimize file sizes by cutting one big 180kb image up into several smaller ones which are half the size combined. I find his argumentation to be inconsistent.


--
André Siegel

Reply Score: 1

BryanFeeney Member since:
2005-07-06

He is overly concerned about how websites will look on, say, a 1600x1200 screen (which only a minority of people uses) but does not acknowledge that layout is an important aspect of visual communication.

You're wrong on one front: wide-screen displays are increasingly common among laptop users, and there's an increasing number of laptops out there. Speaking as someone with a large screen, it is frustrating when you have to read an excessively small column of text when more could be comfortably fit into the page.

As regards layout, it's perfectly easy to lay out the items in your site in a resizable manner (see http://www.ncri.ie and try changing the font-size). One "subliminal" effect of layout is that if it is unsatisfactory for the user, they may question the professional ability of the organisation the website represents.

Full control on a page's layout and a perfectly dynamic design do not go along very well together in most cases, however. You have to decide for either of the two.

For websites that are simply brochures, this is true. For websites with content (e.g. e-business sites, radio-station sites with additional content, newspaper sites, etc.) it is more important to have a dynamic design so that users can easily read the content.

As regards brochure sites, it is possible to design them with dynamic layout (though obviously not for photographic images). It's just quite hard, and requires CSS skills that are not common within industry as it is currently constituted.

don't get the hype about vector graphics at all. Scaling the very same vector icon from 1600x1200 pixels down to 16x16 so it fits inside a file list, is and will remain a pipe dream unless the icon is barely more than a simple geometric form in the first place.

From 1600x1200 to 16x16 is unrealistic and unfair, no-one would every try such a degree of shrinkage (though expansion would work quite well). Given that most images on sites are not photographic, and most non-photographic images are designed using vector graphics applications like Illustrator, stating that vector graphics are unwieldy makes no sense. The "CrystalSVG" icon-set for the KDE desktop demonstrates conclusively that sophisticated resizable images can be created using vector graphics.

Sigh. First the author says that "text in images" is bloat, later he complains that people optimize file sizes by cutting one big 180kb image up into several smaller ones which are half the size combined. I find his argumentation to be inconsistent.

Using images to show text does increase the total download size of your site. Really images of text should be saved for the title and the title alone. And they do cause readability troubles. Using the "alt" attribute will make life somewhat easier for users of text-mode browsers (such as blind users), however it won't put the text in context (e.g. a heading). Further, the alt text is rarely read out by screen-readers, and suggested workarounds (e.g. h{n} tags made invisible using display or visibility CSS attributes) have been shown not to work.

The web should have been a great resource for people with visual impediments (not just full blindness, but even poor vision in general), but sites designed solely for graphical appeasment on a limited set of devices have prevented this.

Lastly, can I say, that as someone forced to work at 1280x1024 by my monitor (it's LCD) the biggest trouble I have with the web is sites that set font-sizes to 12pts as it looks good at 1024x768. It looks tiny to me, all my screen fonts start at 14pts, and as LCD prices drop, I'm won't be in the minority for much longer.

The web is changing, it's time to move on and join the next generation of web-designers.

Reply Parent Score: 1

jziegler Member since:
2005-07-14

It is also a platform for commercial entities who must create emotions with the help of sophisticated graphical presentations. Just providing a text feature list and a photo in a corner is just not enough.

If your website looks bad in my browser, it will create negative emotions and you can forget your commerce. Simple as that. Ditto, if it does not work in Firefox. Unless I really need to use it, I will not both trying to find out why it does not render correctly. So much for "commercial entities and fixed layouts".

As for "photo in the corner", more often than not I see web sites having more "sophisticated graphical presentations" than information. It's the latter why I browse the web. If I want to see pretty pictures, I'll go to deviantart. If I want to buy something, find out something, I want content. Black on white provides as much content as dark gray on an image trying to look as a sheet paper.

[rant]
If web site owner really cared for "graphical presentations" and perfect looks, they would make sure the adverisments displayed would be in sync with the rest of the site's design.
[/rant]

Reply Parent Score: 1

Andre Siegel Member since:
2005-08-12

If web site owner really cared for "graphical presentations" and perfect looks, they would make sure the adverisments displayed would be in sync with the rest of the site's design.

The point of adverts is that you READ them. The only way to make you take notice of them is by looking different from the rest of the website. As studies have shown in the past, the human brain can learn quick how to differentiate between "uninteresting" and "interesting" graphical elements on a website.

The only solution to circumvent the self-learning "advert blocker" in our head is to make banners stand out as much as possible. A minority of people will get frustrated if a banner takes away too much attention. Those people are unlikely to buy from you. (I consider myself part of that group.) For the majority of people, however, annoying banners do work quite well according to marketing studies.

Reply Parent Score: 1