23 Aug

Suffering for Web Design; OR, It’s Hard Work to Be Cool These Days

Yesterday, I decided I was comfortable enough with beginners’ web coding to create a simple page that utilizes a javascript effect and some cascading style sheets guiding the layout. (Whoa! Geek alert.)

Here’s my final product: Spout. It’s really lame.

What’s sad is the fact that it took me about five hours to create such a lame final product. Cascading style sheets, called CSS by those in the know, frustrate me more than the phone company and the IRS combined. Their whole purpose is to allow for quick-loading web pages, and they definitely accomplish that, but I’m not sure how.

I understand their basic functioning, but when it comes to more advanced things, it’s a lot like my relationship with math — I could always do it (even calculus and whatnot), but I never truly understood it. What, for instance, is an integral? Limits? Imaginary numbers?

I’m the same way with most web coding and design issues. I can decipher, but I can’t really create. I simply copy parts of other sites I see and add my own content, like I did with that telescopictext thing (I made a new one, by the way). I also rely on people like “wolfcry911,” who helped me out on some CSS forum I posted to last night. After letting my inquiry sit for a while, I returned later to a solution given to me for free by someone I don’t know.

Forums for these sorts of things are really valuable since you try to keep CSS out of most conversations. You know what I’m saying? When Eileen got home last night, I was really cranky, pulling out my hair over my coding issues. She asked what was wrong, and I reluctantly confessed that I couldn’t get two divs to remain centered while also overlapping in my CSS.

For some reason, I don’t think she had much sympathy for me.

It’s like speaking Chinese at your family reunion in Alabama. Except for me, if we’re going with that metaphor, the Chinese vocabulary is limited to about 200 words (and pretend Alabama’s some place you might actually want to go to).

Geekiness is changing these days, though. Its cool index is on the rise. Just like people who work on cars were cool in various car cultures (1950s Rebels without Causes, Asian-American street racing), people who work under the hood of web sites are getting some props (I hate that word). Lots of people have dream jobs of working for Facebook or Google. They’re the new MTV.

Geek 2.0

But the other thing is that there’s a marriage between coding and design — that is, between the programming and the artwork — that has never been so tight.

Consider:

  • Melissa Hie (This colorful site breaks out of the typical scroll-down navigation we’re used to.)
  • Qleer Interaction (Kevin Kalle puts it well when he says, “Gravy without potatoes is just a platter of gravy.”)
  • Lucuma (Watch their “Reel” video. Lots of fun.)
  • Volll (This is one of my favorites.)
  • Engage Interactive (Interactive indeed.)
  • Omnitech (There are prettier websites, that’s for sure, but the more I study this one, the more impressed I am with it.)
  • We Bleed Design (I’ve seen this site’s CSS. It’s amazing. This one inspired my lame “spout” experiment.)
  • No Frks (Working “day” and “night.” Be sure to click on those words once you get to the site.)
  • Marius Roosendaal (This one uses what’s called an accordion.)
  • Dibusoft (Lots of fun little clickables on this one.)

I’ve got a list of about ten others I’ve come across in recent months, but you get the gist, right? These sites are decidedly cool. They inspire me to revamp my own site, which now looks as outdated to me as legwarmers. But is it worth the hours of frustration with little forward progress? I have yet to answer that one.

Leave a Reply