It was such a smooth transition, unlike the rambunctious sneak attack I might have expected. Little did I know, when I dove into the web standards pool, that I would become a nitpicking fault-finder.
January 2004: I begin my year like any other, wishing I had a million dollars. Resigning to the fact that I will indeed have to hold down a job for the rest of my life, I head off to work. Once there, I continue designing and developing whatever project I had going on at the time, every once in a while taking a deserved break to hit up my favorite design portals for inspiration.
My foray into the expanding world of standards compliant design had taught me many things. Wonderful, simplifying, filesize-reducing, easily-updateable, accessible things. But it had also left me with a sudden and surprising distaste for techniques that I myself had been employing mere months in the past. Before really making an effort to understand all the hype surrounding web standards, I sometimes passed off prominent standards advocates as boring, technical-minded, non-visual, nitpicking standards elitists. Gasp! Could I be be turning into the thing I had once judged so harshly?
Ignorance is definitely not bliss. We may be tempted to think it is, but it is not. Knowledge is bliss. While CSS support is admittedly patchy, I am consoled in the fact that almost no bug is insurmountable, forward-compatability is ensured, and everyone—regardless of how they access the internet—is invited to the party.
I don’t think I could ever go back to table-based design unless it was truly the only way out. Every time I see a mangled mess of nested tables, I think of the hell it must be on screenreaders and alternate media devices, not to mention the wasted transfer of useless, structure-enforcing kilobytes.
I’ve toned it down a bit lately. I do still analyze my work and the work of others, and make no apologies for finding shortcomings in them. I marvel at the complex means some people (myself included) have used to reach a simple, elegant end. But I no longer Apple+Shift+D every website I visit. I acquiesce to the notion that sometimes tables may be needed for page structure. With the mechanics of web standards under my belt, I can once again refocus on design. It’s a happy place. And, if anything, the study of web standards has made me a better designer. This year, I have learned that good design starts with a good foundation. I don’t have web standards to exclusively thank for that knowledge, but it does deserve a portion.
Here’s to a more organized, more beautiful, more accessible, better-designed future. Elitists unite!