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Web browser capability fallacy

Warning: nerd content.

I'm reading a new web design book ("Hardboiled Web Design" by Andy Clarke) and I found myself getting annoyed by yet another discussion of browser capabilities versus graceful degredation/ progressive enhancement.  Most of the chapter was devoted to arguing about browser capabilities shouldn't be determining whether you design a kick-ass site using the latest tech.

They're missing a bigger issue.  If I'm using Safari 5 on my 27" work mac, I'm not always using it full screen.  Sometimes it is, but frequently it's 50% wide and often it's re-sized to tuck alongside seventy other windows I'm using at once.  The design for a full-screen browser+OS combination should allow for shrunken windows.  I don't want your fancy drop shadows and swooshiness and parallax alphaing PNG stuff if it's all getting in the way of the content because I'm using a smaller screen.  Surely iPhones have taught us to Design for End User Use rather than Design for Awesome.  Is it easier to argue against Pixel Perfect Cross Browser rendering when Pixel Perfect SAME Browser Rendering screws up when browser windows are re-sized?  You know, because the USER not only wants control of their browser; they HAVE control and resize whenever they darn-well please1Jeremy Keith is all over this, but I don't think he's broached the argument for using Same Browser Pixel Imperfection as a counter to Cross Browser.  He's talking about proportional perfection, but reading between the lines it's all about serving the content in the best way possible to get your message across.  Media queries are a great start; I'm wondering what else can be done.

1) Yes, you can try and remove the browser resize chromes for popups - but people can get around that.  And bad designer for considering that as a solution; go say seven Hail Mosaics and come back to me.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
hee hee... hail mosaics...

I think Jeremy's got it pretty much right at the moment and adaptive design was mentioned a lot at WDS10. Basically the neatest sites now change quite significantly as the viewport changes.

It's not really taken off yet I think because many designers still think in terms of control. They're getting comfortable with different browsers looking different, but they're not quite up to having the same browser change and adapt literally on the fly.

Which is not to say the average designer won't get there or doesn't want to; but it'll take some practice. And some designers never quite escape their print training, although that excuse has pretty much worn thin these days. The web's clearly going to be pretty big sometime soon ;)
Oct. 22nd, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
True, things take time to percolate. Still as far as argument goes against pixel perfect design, that's one I feel is weightier than multiple browser capabilities. I'm picturing with all the CSS transforms users will get even more control of moving things around and we'll never have any pixel perfect control again.
Oct. 22nd, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
While we're at it, can we get rid of anything that has a popup page, or those pages where it doesn't actually pop up, it just grabs your browser window to the front, no matter what you're doing at the time?

Also programs that do the same need to die, but that's a different subject.

Seriously, nothing should take over my whole screen when I'm doing something unless it's a warning of an imminent computer meltdown or nuclear war.
Oct. 24th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Popups are indeed reviled by all good minded people. I'll agree with your assessment of needy applications; I can't count the number of times I've been typing something and another app has claimed focus and vanished because I hit a hotkey while I was typing something else. It's patently stupid design.

There are much better ways of indicating "hey, something you need to look at here" like taskbar flashing, app-doc bouncing or Growl-style notifications. Autofocus is barbaric.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 8th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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