Built like a House

Posted May 5th, 2006 by Mike Cherim

I was explaining web standards, compliant mark-up, and web accessibility to my wife. I used a “house” analogy. Not “House MD” like the television show (which is very good by the way), but like the structure some people live in. I equated a house to a website. I told my wife some sites can look great on the outside yet be very poorly built on the inside. The outer walls can be nothing more than a thin veneer. A website can have a great looking design, yet it may be built of straw on the inside and not able to withstand the huffs and puffs of the big, bad wolf of technology. It’s hard to tell by just looking I explained.

I told my wife how things are changing so rapidly. Web 2.0, if that term works for you, portable device support, varied media that needs support (and be made accessible in many cases). There’s a lot goin’ on. To compound matters, much of the onus of responsibility of adjusting and adapting to the changes falls on the developer’s shoulders, even though in many cases, like that mentioned in me and Gez Lemon’s article over at Accessites.org called “Skip Link Pros and Cons,” the user agents such as web browsers should be better and more supportive without the developer’s help.

I told my wife it’s the code that counts — speaking in general terms of markup and cascading style sheets or CSS of course, not going too heavily into the details. It’s the code that’s going to make today’s websites work tomorrow I told her. I spoke briefly of data table abuse, using them to structure an entire site, even going so far as nesting them in addition to the normal stacking. I brought up the house analogy again. Imagine seeing a nice house, I told her, opening the door, and finding it’s contents are sitting on tables, under tables, next to tables, and to make it worse, there are tables everywhere. Then to look up and learn the whole house, in fact, is one big table with walls nailed on (or glued maybe). To her, as I intended, it didn’t seem like a very usable or accessible house.

She got it (but she is a rather intelligent woman). Thus I figured maybe I’d post this here. Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve published something (I do have an unfinished fiction piece in the wings, though). I’ve been very busy building websites and related stuff even though my “April” seems pretty naked when looking back at my Projects page. I also plan to release a new three-column accessible WordPress blog theme soon (it’s already built actually, just not tweaked and packaged for distribution). I’ll announce it here when it’s ready you can be sure. (I found out I’m currently number one in Google with the search term of “Accessible Blog Theme” and I’m pretty happy about that, so I’m going with the flow.

I’m getting a little off topic, but speaking of WordPress, I made a new WordPress icon or button. I think it’s pretty cool, I like the way it turned out. If you like it, too, help yourself.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.org

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