Stop Worrying & Get On With It

10th September 2009

An interesting quote from Elliot Jay Stocks at the Future of Web Design (FOWD) conference in Bristol this year. Constantly as designers we’re faced with an array of compatibility based concerns that cause us to reduce the design quality or usability of an application purely for the increased accessibility derived from it. But why should we do this when considering the little things? yes, whilst legacy browsers such as Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) are still kicking about holding an undeservedly high percentage of the market we will still have to cater for them when building commercial applications. But when thinking of little extras we can add to make designs that little bit nicer for modern browser users; why should we hold back?

CSS3 is a big topic at the moment with many designers liking what they see, but concluding that as long as IE6 and the like are supported by the manufacturers, it’s somewhat redundant for usage in commercial environments purely because only a small percentage of users ever being able to see the features. Elliot’s point of view however is to ask why this should this stop us? Little extras like text-shadow are so easy to add with a mere single line of CSS and act as a nice touch for the few that can see them; with no negative implications for legacy browser users.

Another example could be when selecting the last element in an element array, such as the last list item of an unordered list; legacy methods would involve perhaps writing a ‘last’ class into that element with the server-side language in use; but why bother when the new selectors can allow you to select this in such a more semantic and simple way? Yes this would mean legacy browser users wouldn’t see the difference; but what would that mean? an extra undesired border on the final element? probably, but does it make the system unusable? no; but it does speed up the web design process and mean we don’t have to throw unnecessary logic into the view of our MVC systems.