Web design = Acronym hell

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This week I’ve been preparing to build my first ever website and I’m a bit scared. I’ve designed quite a few websites before, but actually building one… urgh. The mere mention of CSS and MySQL (MySQL? My Squirrel? What the frangipan has that tree hugging rodent got to do with coding?) brings me out in a rash, ie. I have to switch off the computer and go and have a cup of tea. I am, however, determined to get to grips with this developing malarkey. Learning new languages has been a weakness of mine since school. I’d be doodling in my exercise books whilst “ein, zwei, trois” (I often fell asleep in the German class and woke again during the French lesson) floated by me.

I will persevere for two main reasons; firstly because I hate not being able to do something and secondly because the web is the future (possibly already the present) of communication design. With the environment going to hell in a hand basket weaved from landfill waste, making the majority of our communications online seems inevitable. The immediacy of the web also means that literally up-to-the-minute news and information is possible. Whether you’re a stock broker or gossip seeking teenager, the internet is fast becoming the preferred way of getting news.

So all the more important that we all learn how to go about devising online content, even more so when you consider that the internet’s greatest tool is it’s usability. By that I mean that it allows everyone to interact with design in hugely interesting and innovative ways, just look at wikipedia or youtube. The possibilities are quite possibly limitless (providing they fit onto a monitor screen)! I’m getting a bit excited now so let’s all just take a breath and look at a pretty picture.

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Paul Felton (of the Felton Reports) has apparently teamed up with Ryan Case to make a do-it-yourself Felton Report. This is exactly the sort of stuff I’m literally bouncing up and down in my chair about. Although a bit self indulgent and egotisical, linky to whence I nicked the pic from, this surely demonstrates more clearly than my self-side-tracking ramblings are able to what it is that I’m trying to get across to you. Doesn’t it? If not then surely the number of links I’ve tagged so far in this post should give you a clue to the way that the world is indeed at thine fingertips.

An interesting piece of web history I’ve come across whilst researching this post (and yes I do research things, if by research you mean aimlessly drift across blogs clicking idly on links until something catches my magpie-like attention) is that whilst I was aware that different web browsers display html tags in different ways, I didn’t realise that to begin with these differences were deliberately expanded in order to keep hold of the browser developer’s market share (it was Netscape vs Microsoft, system defaults at dawn). Obvious to say now but it led to the creation of increasingly complicated systems of tags to bypass browser settings and give the designer more control on what the viewer would see. However this led to ridiculously cluttered html language with tags on every word (almost). So someone had a stroke of genius and created CSS which meant that the design could be written separately from the content making it not only easier to control the format of web pages, but also to up date content and styles across a whole site. I think I might finally be getting my head around this. For a more full explanation of the evolution of html/css I read this (bit out of date now though still good).

All this blogging is distracting from actually doing any real work so I’d better leave it there for the moment, more to come when I’ve learnt how it’s all actually done.

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