But seriously, we have to put them down eventuallyI was mesmerised the moment I gazed upon the first web page -slowly- being rendered before my eyes. The sheer excitement I felt simply surpassed my expectations. Amazingly shaped letters and incredible moving images. Comic Sans and dithered GIFs were all the rage back then.
Disclaimer: Being the first part of a series of articles I always wanted to write, on the subject of front end development modernization, this serves as the ranty introduction. So be prepared.
The year was 1999. The host was Geocities (of course it was). The color palette could have easily embarrassed the most verbose of impressionistic painters. Several information pieces were arranged in a way that showcased complete disregard for even the most basic aspects of user experience, as we perceive it today.
Come 2017 and looking back to these relics of my first tip toeing in the internet ocean I realise how much of it is gone, and how much of it has changed. Gone are the endless streams of colors, gone is the unthoughtful placement of document elements, gone is Geocities web hosting (that is not entirely true, but close enough).
The strides we made towards a better user experience, I could say, are impressive. We came a long way to reach such comfortable and concise browsing, complete with responsive layouts and streamlined interfaces. But I would actually be lying if I said so. Not that I am attempting to belittle the improvements, far from it. Just stating the one main reason, our Achilles heel, that trammels progress.Compatibility. Blasted backwards compatibility.
So many new ways to design and produce are actually available the very moment I write this, it numbs one’s mind as to why nobody seems to use them. Not for actually producing reachable content anyway. A small amount of investigation will reveal the reason why. Older browsers are still a thing. People use that thing, a substantial amount of people if reports are to be believed, and people are who the content we produce is for.
Make the math, result is only logical. That is the case if you actually admit to produce content that can be accessed by as many as possible. Well, you shouldn’t. It is simply wrong, and I couldn’t care less what marketing experts say. Or the owner of a company that still runs Windows 98SE on all their PCs.
In my professional life I work my best in order to assure a quality standard is met for the end user’s sake. During this everyday process, I feel fed up seeing tables for anything other than tabular data. Or floats for content design purposes, other than image positioning inside an article. Unless we cut the ties with the web’s past clean off the :root, things will never be as good as they truly can.