Jens Meiert

35 Designers × 5 Questions × 1 Complainer

Jens O. Meiert, June 12, 2007 (↻ August 16, 2013).

This entry has been written by Jens the .

My endless queue of documents I need or want to read finally brought up a relatively popular interview mashup on Smashing Magazine (led by my valued peers Vitaly Friedman and Sven Lennartz), 35 Designers × 5 Questions. Although this interview collection is definitely a recommendable read, I don’t just want to create a link post, I’d rather like to comment some issues the designers (not all of them are designers though) raised:

First off, where’s content? I know, there’s no question targeting content, but doesn’t content require “the highest priority?” I claim that Bringhurst’s statement that “typography exists to honor content” is also applicable for web design.

Details. Little things like spacing and buttons have a huge impact on the overall design.

I try to give highest priority to the small details.

Understood, but details may easily become expensive, as perfection is an expensive hobby (that said by a perfectionist). I love and embrace attention to detail, but when I’d need to choose between an additional usability test or an additional walk with the ruler, I’d pick the former.

Content – page content will make or break a website.

That sounds like decorator slang, not like a designer bonmot.

* { margin: 0; padding: 0; }

Great. This is really the best “permanent ingredient” of almost every style sheet. You don’t need anything else to remember as additional standard declarations and rules are likely to be inelegant since redundant. (And I don’t just say that because I philosophized about that with Tantek some years ago.)

* {
padding:0;
margin:0;
}
h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, p, pre, blockquote, label, ul, ol, dl, fieldset, address { margin:1em 5%; }
li, dd { margin-left:5%; }
fieldset { padding: .5em; }

See the comment before. Who wants to add this to his or her style sheets, and why?

The underscore hack.

As far as I understand the spec, this workaround is not valid. (Child selectors appear to be an alternative, by the way, and they are valid. Use this stuff carefully though.)

One particularly useful tool are conditional comments, allowing me to serve up fixes for the broken rendering in Internet Explorer 6 and 7.

[…] the most useful technique for me is the use of conditional comments to deal with older versions of Internet Explorer.

“Conditional Comments” are still bad.

This [the Phark method] is not just great for people using a screenreaders, but may also have a positive impact on your Google PageRank.

I love the Phark method (German reference), too, but there are three things to note when it comes to image replacement:

  1. Hidden text basically violates Google guidelines (and those of other search engines, too). This is of course an interesting problem – we like to use other methods to hide certain content as well, but in order to help.
  2. What about the scenario “images disabled, CSS activated.”
  3. There are “rumors” that at least h1 elements are not assigned much weight by Google, and that h2 etc. are more important.

A new CSS property I’ve been using lately is outline: 0. When you use text-indent to hide text off the screen, you get a nasty border when you click links in Firefox. The outline property solves that.

This border isn’t “nasty,” it’s useful, even when you use certain image replacement techniques. So please, don’t do that. Or “tab” and navigate around a site that uses such methods and express your love for that method again.

That’s all I needed to rid, now we’re all feeling relieved, right? Certainly there was some criticism, but the original interviews are great, so: 35 Designers × 5 Questions.

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Comments

  1. On June 12, 2007, 12:04 CEST, Markus S. said:

    Most designers won’t accept that a “nasty” outline is better than no outline. However, overflow:hidden turns the nasty outline into a beautiful outline again, so fortunately this discussion isn’t even necessary.

  2. On June 13, 2007, 11:30 CEST, Neovov said:

    Outline: none; can be a good thing is the developer think about a way to use the tab key.

    Unfortunatly I believe that is only possible with JavaScript…

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