Interview with Sigmund Gnoskrept

Posted September 28th, 2007 by Mike Cherim

I have been working on creating other tools for web designers to use

I was granted an exclusive interview with none other than the one and only renowned web designer Sigmund Gnoskrept. This is the man who is the mastermind behind the concept of a — and the one who coined the term — “web site” in the late eighties, if that means anything to you. What follows is a transcript of that interview, my questions, followed by his answers. I was surprised by some of his responses, and you may be, too.

Since there has been a lot of talk lately about text-size, making accommodating text-size widgets, or trying to teach users what they can do with their own web browser, I figured I’d start things off by going in with something topical.

Interview Transcript

Me: What are your thoughts on the matter of developers offering a text-size widget or teaching users how to once and for all use their browser?

Gnoskrept: Text size shouldn’t be changed. It should be 11 to 12 points, expressed as “11pt” or “12pt” and big and small tags should be added as needed by the designer. It is too great a challenge to make text-size widgets, and allowing users to enlarge text can break my designs. And teach?! Are you mad? People need to stop doing this sort of thing. I can see that text size just fine so others will too. I can’t worry about every little thing. I am far too important.

Me: But what about browser functionality? Should users not use it if they need it?

Gnoskrept: Heavens no. The browser is so they can see my web sites, not destroy them. Only one browser even partially gets it right and that is Internet Explorer. I say partially because while they do offer text enlargement to a limited degree, they thoughtfully gave web developers a means of disabling it, of overriding users’ annoying behavior. I have been working on creating other tools for web designers to use for controlling presentation, and I’ve been lobbying browser developers, but neither effort has proven fruitful. Yet. The fight is not over.

Me: Wow, so you’re not into web standards and web accessibility? I figured you would be.

Gnoskrept: Ah, those web standards and web accessibility types drive me crazy. I remember fondly the old days. A web site was a canvas and its designer was the artist and what was painted stayed the way it was meant to be. Now, thanks in part to those best-practice zealots, a true web designer’s paintings are now turned into distorted and disturbing Picassoesque nightmares.

Me: And web accessibility… don’t you think there should be equal access for all?

Gnoskrept: Yes, of course. I always make sure that all Internet Explorer users who have the appropriate plugins and add-ons have equal access. I know what you’re talking about, though — I’m sensing you’re one of them — you mean disabled users, and those who don’t have JavaScript and whatnot. But, seriously, let’s face it. Everybody has that stuff nowadays. Requirements are all part of the scene. Anyway, in my time I have run several online stores, and I never had visitors complain about a lack of accessibility.

Me: How about search engines. Don’t you worry about their access to your content? Some of the same rules apply you know.

Gnoskrept: Oh, I take care of that by link exchanges, keyword seeding, and I try to get out as much Self-Promoting Advertising Materials as possible.

Me: Yeah, I see. Well, we’re out of time. Thank you I guess. Any last minute advice for industry newcomers?

Gnoskrept: You bet. Buy my books. All of them: “The Art of Nesting Tables,” “Entertaining with GIFs,” and of course, my book for Internet users, “Don’t Complain, Upgrade.”

Yipes. Calm down… I made him up. This is fiction. Any similarities to real people dead or alive… :)

By the way: I’m curious, what do you think of how I marked up this interview? View page with styles off.

12 Responses to: “Interview with Sigmund Gnoskrept”

  1. Dave Woods responds:
    Posted: September 28th, 2007 at 7:03 am

    Haha, you should have saved this one for April the 1st without the disclaimer at the end, would have made for some interesting comments.

    As soon as I read that stuff about Internet Explorer getting it right, I twigged that something wasn’t quite right :)

    How it’s been marked up works well, I usually use headers and paragraphs for a questions and answers / FAQ’s section but as long as it’s easy to differentiate between the two with styles turned off then I think definition lists are fine and are definitely semantically appropriate.

  2. David Zemens responds:
    Posted: September 28th, 2007 at 7:45 am

    I see what’s happening here, Mike. You get your big GreenMethods design project complete, and now you have too much time on your hands, eh?

    I feel sorry for Mrs. Mike. :-)

  3. Blair Millen responds:
    Posted: September 28th, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Great fun Mike… and I like the definition list for markup, looks good with no styles. I wonder how it sound with a screen reader compared to headings and paragraphs (as Dave suggested)?

  4. Karl responds:
    Posted: September 28th, 2007 at 8:53 am

    haha, I was “Sigmund who?” until I read the first answer…

  5. IAn Lloyd responds:
    Posted: September 28th, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Yer little bugger! You had me there, hook line and sinker. I got about 1/3 of the way through and thought “Can you believe this s**t?! What has this guy been taking?”

    I was mentally preparing a post that began with the lines “If I didn’t know better, I would have *sworn* that it was April 1st. Instead, I just swore.”

    Wind-up merchant! :-D

  6. Elliott Cross responds:
    Posted: September 28th, 2007 at 10:45 am


    I’ve read a couple of his books, and they were pretty interesting! As I speak, I am rewriting all of my sites using his current book of “How to triple nest tables for optimum design” and have been taking some notes from his site “”.

    Plus, I am going to throw away all of my knowledge, begin using Netscape navigator 4 and IE 5.x and get rid of my high speed internet connection too!

    I think this will be a great step forward into digression! I’ll let you know how the trip goes! LMAO!

  7. Tommy Olsson responds:
    Posted: October 1st, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Thanks for giving me a good chuckle on this grey and misty Monday morning. Like Karl I believed it was legit until I read the first answer.

    Very well done, my friend!

  8. Robert Wellock responds:
    Posted: October 1st, 2007 at 11:00 am

    The guy is real, yes! I know him he comes with many faces and never refuses to leave, and he hears but does not listen and sees but does not look. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have met him.

  9. Jermayn Parker responds:
    Posted: October 1st, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    hahaha you had me fooled, what did arouse my suspicion was that you did not stand up for your beliefs, thought maybe you were too awe-stuck and star shy to argue with him..

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