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Wrapping up the web design


December 23 2011

Now that 2011 is coming to an end, it is time for me to wrap up the web page facelift for 2011.

My web site design has improved

At the beginning of 2011, my web site design was a simple design from five years ago that only used one font, wasn't very compatible with small-screen browsers, and had a somewhat plain look to it. Oh yeah, the picture of me at the top was out of date.

I was able to completely overhaul the web design in 2011. The design is tighter, more fancy looking, more readable, and includes layouts for medium and small screen browsers.

As I wrap up the web design at the end of 2011, some thoughts on its process.

CSS has gotten so much better

Five years ago, the state of CSS -- the language used to determine the visual look of a web page -- was a lot worse. Back then, with Internet Explorer 6 still being so prominent and with so few web users using a browser that could pass even the Acid 2 test (Acid3 didn't even exist), there were two choices: One could either make a page using CSS layout that required the web page to have a fixed width, or a web page using table layout with a more flexible design.

I chose a design with a fixed width using pure CSS for (just under 800 pixels, because 800x600 was still common at the time) and a variable-width design for using tables for layout and CSS for visual appearance.

Back in 2006, I wanted to use display: table in my CSS; this was just not possible with the browsers of the time. I finally had a chance to use this in the update to the late 2011 design; it allows desktop computers to see one layout and mobile small-screen devices to see another layout. Since IE6 and IE7 are still around, I still have hard-coded HTML tables -- but only seen by those older IE releases.

Fennec: A useful tool for mobile device web design

I discovered another useful tool for testing my web page: Fennec (also called "Firefox for Android" or "Firefox for mobile"). While Fennec is a mobile browser, there is also a build of it for desktop operating systems, which is very useful for testing out how a web site looks like on a mobile device without needing to walk away from ones desk.

Verdana doesn't have a great bold

While Verdana is the reference standard for a great looking screen font, it is only so at its normal weight. While Verdana bold looks good on older systems without true type, its bold is thick to the point of sometimes being difficult to read (especially with strings like ill) on systems with modern font hinting technologies; the letter spacing is a little tight.

One of the advantages of web fonts -- another technology just not there five years ago -- is that I can use Verdana where it's strongest, namely body text, and another font for headings.

Looking ahead

I used my last web page design for five years. I hope that the new 2011 design can be used for a couple of years, maybe even half a decade like the previous design.

Did I mention that it's a lot easier to keep the picture of me at the top up-to-date with this new design?

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