HTML, or, `Why do these pages look so ugly?'

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``There is no user-interface problem so simple that a web designer can't screw it up.'' (me)

Because they're in HTML. They're not in some horrid mish-mash of HTML, with GIF graphics to space out the text, physical font directives, half-in-CSS and half-not, and broken so that they even work with Netscape. My only concession to the world of `design' is setting the link colour to red, and I might stop doing that at some point, too.

This is not because I can't do those things. It's because I can't be bothered. Plus, there's so much crap non-functional design on the web, I find it a breath of fresh air to see something which isn't.

Note that these pages should not be taken as a statement about HTML semantic markup. HTML is useless for semantic markup, since you can't define your own tags. Maybe XML will be better. Or maybe Microsoft will succeed in buggering it up like everything else they touch; certainly they appear to be heading in that direction now that they're threatening to integrate it with COM, typically a sign of impending doom for any promising technology.

Update: April 2002

Well, in the three or so years since I wrote the above, XML has become an industry obsession, and it's quite screwed up enough without the intervention of Microsoft. It's still not something which will help us write web pages using semantic markup in such a way that the readers can view them in the way that they want, and even if it were, there aren't any browsers which would get it right either. Of course, there are lots of new web standards, but they're not really helping much. Most pages on the web make a pretty shoddy job of presenting what little information they contain. My solution? Use Links and be done with it.

Update: August 2002

Somebody shamed me into getting rid of the colour specifications in these pages.

Copyright (c) 1999-2002 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.