Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Monday, December 06, 2004


Note to readers: blog design woes

Anyone out there might have noticed a change in the way this blog appears on your screen. In case you wondered why, the answer lies in the trials of being a very amateur web developer, not in any intentional desire to make this blog look ugly again.

Perhaps one of the first lessons learned by website designers, even novices like me, is that of browser compatibility.

You see, I fell for the trap of treating the design of a web page as though it were a printing press, putting all the pieces together exactly where I wanted them to be seen by the reading audience. Yet, as anyone with any experience in website design will tell you, this kind of approach to web developing is a recipe for disaster.

The web page is not a piece of art stored on the Internet waiting for people to see it as you have envisioned it on your own computer. No. It is a collection of code to be interpreted by every single computer receiving it in it's own unique fashion. Computers have different web browsers; they have different screen resolutions; they have different operating systems; they have different settings used by different users. All of this adds up to a situation where a website designer can only hope the general intentions of how his or her page looks is preserved each and every time it's downloaded from the server it occupies.

It was the Firefox browser phenomenon which forced me to realize the error of my ways. I always knew browser compatibility could be an issue. But in my arrogance, rooted in the notion that everyone else can somehow adapt to Microsoft technology, I made this blog look exactly how I wanted it to look on my own computer, which uses Internet Explorer. I kept hearing about Firefox, so I finally decided to download it and give it a spin. When I logged on to this blog using the new browser, I saw a web page that looked more like a hacked layout than a well thought out web design. Most noticeable was the left-hand sidebar, which is an integral part of the site, was almost completely pushed aside in favour of a bloated main column stuffed with Thanksgiving cyber-turkey. And all my attempts to fix it were in vain.

So, I decided to start from scratch. I grabbed the template I originally started this blog with, saw how it looked on BOTH Explorer and Firefox, and decided the differences weren't enough to discourage me from starting all over again. Turns out the adjustments I have been making using Explorer completely skewed the way the site looks on another browser like Firefox. So, now, the only thing that remains from my blog is the content which, of course, is the most important thing.

Thus, I will be spending the next little while rebuilding the look and feel of this blog. I will be adding again the same features in the hopes it will look something like what I thought I was seeing on my screen until I realized I wasn't. Just another lesson in cyberspace logic, I guess.

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