Logical Structures and Happy Designers

While valid markup and CSS are necessary, they’re not the only things we web designers require to keep our sanity. One can create a valid page that is still difficult to work on. For example, using absolutely positioned elements for page layout is even worse than just using tables. When you add content to one element, the ones below it are not pushed down because they are no longer in the “flow” of the page. This causes overlap of content and makes it extremely difficult and frustrating to add anything to the page. Utilities such as Yahoo! SiteBuilder create pages like this.

A markup structure that is built to logically represent the content of the page and not to facilitate the appearance of the page is much more easily edited and future-proof than the “HTML soup” sites of old. I wistfully say “old”, but the truth of the matter seems to be that HTML soup is still the preferred meal of the majority of so-called web designers. A lot of the web sites we’ve moved to our servers are a pain to work with and rarely validate, and they were, sadly, created by professional web designers!

Another couple things that are bad practice but not invalid are the use of inline style and CSS classes with names that tie them to a particular stylesheet such as “red-text” or “left-side”. What if you change the stylesheet some day and that “red-text” is now supposed to be blue or the “left-side” spans the bottom of the page? The World Wide Web Consortium themselves discourage the naming of CSS classes like this. They also have some other useful tips that all web designers should read and keep in mind.

If you’re a fledgling web designer or perhaps someone who is just looking into having a web site created and wondering what valid code and good design practices can do for you, check out the CSS Zen Garden site, an excellent example that is logically structured and able to accept stylesheets of wildly different appearances without the need for markup changes.

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