About This Site
I've had a personal website for over 15 years. The majority of that time (1997-2006), it was a frames & tables site optimized for Netscape Navigator 4. In those 9 years, I went from being proud of it, to feeling it was time to update it, to cringing at the sight of it.
On the eve of the previous redesign, I took a step back to look at it objectively, and in spite of the visceral reaction it inspired in me (nearly as much for the implementation as for the design aesthetic), I had to admit that it held up surprisingly well. It began its life fairly close to the bleeding edge of cross-browser web design by 1997 standards.
I distinctly remember looking longingly at Cascading Style Sheets in 1996 and pining for what they promised: a disolution of the unholy matrimony between content and design foisted upon us by the combatants in the Browser War in their arms race attempts to one up each other.
Twelve years later, the old bleeding edge has fallen off the trailing edge. The revolution was not televised. In fact, it occurred with very little fanfare. Apart from a relatively small (but growing) group of web-professionals, the vast majority of people continue doing things in the old ways: inflexible design with tables & transparent spacer GIFs.
I certainly didn’t see how far that revolution would take us — acccessibility, dynamic positioning, simpler searching, and dynamic content, oh my! Structurally, the XHTML of these pages have more in common with the first homepage I made in 1993 [have to see if I have it archived somewhere] than they do with the frames & tables “bleeding-edge” redesign from 1997.
I’m actually very happy with this design. It came together entirely in one rather productive 24 hour period. This is the second time I’ve taken a concept in my mind and translated it to a web design. XHTML/CSS definitely made that easier, but it is still a joy. Normally my designs have not suffered the translation from my brain to the screen gracefully. Inevitably they’d fall prey to my inability to actualize them (mostly graphically, but some of it was hampered by cross-browser incompatibility)
At the core, it is a deceptively simple design, but I’m still very happy with it. And with the design separated from the content, I can much more easily keep it up as my abilities continue to grow. It’s a nice theory, anyway.
So, where do we go from here?
Today, the metadata geek in me is looking at the semantic web the way the web geek looked at CSS twelve years ago. It’s not without it’s flaws, and it’s definitely an overly optomistic view of how the web could work. But even that appeals to the idealist in me.
I have no doubt that the next twelve years will be as different from what I expect than the past twelve have been. But it’s still exciting to think of the posibilities.
That is a wonderful feeling. I pretty much left the web world burnt out. I’ve returned to find a completely different landscape than I left.
With that, I’d like to point out that I’m not a web professional any more. I don’t have access to a browser usability lab, and I don’t get off on debugging on every permutation of browser out there.
I have made an effort to make this design work in as many browsers as possible. Dean Edwards is a God amonst men and deserves the Browser War’s equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize for IE7, because, quite frankly, Redmond’s idea of “100% CSS compliance” is inscrutably laughable. (Those tears you see, they’re tears of joy. Really.)
The evangelist in me also feels that while 100% browser compatibilty is a noble goal, anyone still using IE after being warned repeatedly that it’s an insecure, bug infested steaming pile of spaghetti code with holes big enough for a 747 to fit comfortably, then they get whatever they deserve, and I can’t be pandering to that low a common denominator.