I’ve been experimenting with a couple of tools for creating cross-platform web design. I’m quite happy with the results (which will be used on production sites in the coming weeks). I’m no longer plagued by the woes of differing font sizes, incorrect positioning, CSS hacks, etc. that makes a web developers life misery.

I am using the 960 grid system for managing layout in combination with a blog post on how to get cross browser compatibility every time, a simple list of DOs and DON’Ts when writing the HTML and CSS for the first time.

The combination has been a major time-saver (and FOR ONCE I can have a multi-column design WITHOUT using tables)! I can hardly recommend these two links enough. The only remaining doubts I have are whether to use EMs or pixels for padding and margin sizes. My brief experimentation suggests avoiding setting such values altogether but if they must be set, use pixels.

I’d love to hear about other’s experiences with these tools (and other, similar tools).

Roger Johansson over at 456 Berea Street, reflecting on a series of articles by John Allsopp regarding HTML semantics, asks the question: “Should there be another way of extending and improving the semantics of HTML without requiring the specification to be updated?”

Personally, I think the issue revolves around the misuse of HTML to mark up something other than research papers.

It is my understanding that HTML is a subset of SGML, a markup language used to mark up research papers for mass reproduction on offset printers. As such, the vocabulary (the tags) in HTML reflect the type of data being marked up. Consequently, when HTML is used to mark up documents that are not academic in nature (are not research papers), authors are left cobbling together solutions to retain the semantic value, but that rarely works. For example, if you want to mark up a mathematic equation, you’ll need the MathML specification precisely because HTML doesn’t have the vocabulary necessary for describing the content.

I find it a little ironic that Tim Berners-Lee has basically turned everyone into an academic in some sense, by enabling them to do massive research and post their findings. However, current technology limits us to “browsing” research papers, even though we’ve creatively found ways to publish much, much more than that.

I think the world is missing a browser that is able to render a variety of markup languages (vocabularies), including HTML, MathML, XHTML, XHTML2, XForms, SMIL, and others (although the last 2 are not technically markup languages). I can imagine a world in which marketers define their own markup specification for sharing data (a problem I think microformats are trying to solve) safely. In fact, markup languages can be defined for nearly any field. The problem is, we don’t have web browsers capable of rendering the data in the source documents in any meaningful fashion because no formatting information is associated with any of the elements of these foreign markup languages. In fact, I find it hard to imagine what a marketing database or recipe list would look like if not some kind of document.

So, in conclusion, I’m not sure if I’ve made my point, but basically I think any semantic improvements in HTML will come from focusing on the domain it was originally intended for (academia) than by trying to extend it to other domains that have little or nothing to do with writing research papers.

Webs hechas totalmente en Flash se venden con facilidad a un público inexperto. Sin embargo, desde el punto de vista empresarial, una web hecha totalmente en Flash es una mala inversión por varios motivos. Aquí espero dar a los no-expertos algunas ideas sobre cómo se debe, y no se debe, usar Flash en la web.

En términos muy generales, el Flash destaca como herramienta para:

  • experiencias inmersivas (mundos virtuales)
  • realizar tareas concretas (aplicaciones: vídeo juegos, mapas, etc.)
  • reproducir vídeo

Y suspende cuando se usa para:

  • catalogar/clasificar información
  • manejar datos en general
  • publicar textos (que viene a ser un manejo de datos)

Yo creo que mucha de la confusión sobre Flash viene a raíz del mismo nombre. Flash es una herramienta para crear animaciones, películas, y otras herramientas. Muchos de los efectos especiales se pueden conseguir con otras herramientas, pero en el fondo, si uno pretende tener una web “profesional”, antes de pedir una web con muchos colores y movimiento, el cliente debería preguntarse por qué…

De nuestro proceso de diseño web:

“Diseño web es una mezcla de los siguientes ingredientes: diseño gráfico, arquitectura de la información, usabilidad, accesibilidad, y optimización de cara a los buscadores (search engine optimization – SEO). Para lograr que un visitante responda de una manera predecible hay que tener en cuenta estos 5 factores a la hora de crear el diseño, y no sólo pensar en el diseño gráfico.”

Pero todo esto no me lo invento yo. Lo dicen muchas otras personas (expertas en el tema):

Pero el principal motivo del fracaso de la mayoría de las webs no es el uso, ni abuso, de Flash sino la falta de definir los objetivos empresariales de una web en términos concretos antes de iniciar la creación de dicha web.

Es decir: antes de contratar la creación de una web, siéntate y pregúntate qué esperas que la web te produzca en euros, contactos nuevos, imágen, etc. Una vez sepas en términos concretos qué esperas de la web, sabrás el valor que tiene (cuánto invertir) y con el tiempo podrás juzgar si la web ha logrado los objetivos o no. Esto es el primer paso de nuestro proceso de desarrollo web. Se supone que es sentido común, pero en mi experiencia, los clientes se dejan vender por los ojos, y no por el bolsillo como hacen los buenos empresarios.

Chicago PhilanthropyHighlights

  • Self-generating Table of Contents
  • Search Engine
  • Logical Site Structure


Chicago Philanthropy magazine, in circulation starting about 1996, went online in about 1998, including archived versions of every issue of the magazine. The site was created and maintained using Dreamweaver and its templating system, but the main menu was generated by a PHP script. The site structure reflected the organization of the content, e.g. /1997/01/interview.html. The site is no longer active.

Technical Info

Apache web server. Mostly static pages. Htdig search engine.