Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Open Source (Sore?) Project

Netscape was a wonderful example of how people who try to view early innovation and success as "evil" or controlling are sadly misguided. Those of you who were aficionados of HTML back before Sun Microsystems and Macromedia were allowed to buy corporate memberships in the HTML source. That was like GM buying controlling share of the Saturn corporation, the car company that was supposed to be the anti-Big Corporation anti-nonsensitive to consumers needs Corporate enemy of the people selling out to their main enemy of what they were designed for because of money. That is what we felt like as HTML programmers who had been taught that the only way to insure that your websites would be done properly was if you did it manually for years, and they sold out to corporate software companies who try to automate the publishing of web pages and I want to be the first to say that the software, no matter who manufactures it, always screws up something eventually and then you have to get someone to scrap your pages, pull your whole site down, lose valuable down time on the server and then redesign (although it is quicker using software) pages that may have the same flaw in it again because no one knows what went into the design. Sometimes it is as simple as cross platform (between browsers) standards that one browser refuses to come up with. We actually had to use a blurb of Javascript called the Netscape Fix on most pages because they didn't want to "imitate" Internet Explorer by allowing us to use Cascading Style Sheets and actually had the gall to ask why we needed it. It is NOW THE STANDARD WAY THAT SOFTWARE USES TO DESIGN PAGES IN THE BACKGROUND, BUT NETSCAPE HAD TO ASK WHICH PART OF IT WE FOUND NECESSARY. It would be comparable to an instant oatmeal company asking, "Do you really need flavors and which ones do you think are really necessary since we don't want to implement anything too close to the actual work involved in producing something like what Quaker does." instead of trying to copy them as closely as possible to the letter. When I wrote to the guy from Netscape open source project and told him ALL OF IT! he actually wrote back and asked why it was necessary. I wrote back and told him that I could design pages the way I wanted to and that Netscape was so out of whack with their page design that we have to develop javascript fixes to position the text where we wanted it and he acted like he didn't understand the importance of web design to a web designer. That is the problem with IT people. They don't have an artistic bone in their bodies and as long as they can use templates that someone like me designed, they think they are cutting edge. Programming doesn't make a website popular or functional, common sense does. I had to point this out to several advertising people. They are really clueless as to what catches some one's eye unless it is in print. And programmers have never been taught about how to make something user friendly or pleasing to look at. They think in terms of program functions and don't realise if the site looks like two sixth graders built in using Netscape Gold, then, it looks unappealing and most people leave the site to find something they like. It is almost like most people are trying to find a website that is like a video game to entertain them instead of just informing them. You will notice that IBM never does sales presentation in front of a three ring circus operating behind them. Why not, too much distraction which forces you to lose the message. That is why web design is NOT GRAPHIC DESIGN, although some of that is necessary to attract users, it is about the art of designing information architecture. How the text falls on the page, readability and attraction of everything from the background graphics, colors, and the links. Most web pages are designed now so that someone can print a version of it out as well. That requires the functionality design of parts that are usable in print, on cell phones, and small screens on other electronic media. Even the name of Flash was a self fulfilling prophecy. It was a flash in the pan. If you haven't figured out yet that the graphics that download too slowly with the page using either a real slow message that says, "Loading, Loading, Loading..." while you grow a beard or the ever so popular revolving dot that spins like a chasing Christmas light display gone bad, but isn't as offensive as their predecessors is a sign of the Flash Player, which is the last we shall see of that bigone era. At one time everything the corporate HR people wanted was to be designed in Flash. Now they hate it which is an example of how much customers know about what they truly want.

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