web design... #1

...and then some...

PTL web design…

Most people call it “web design”, and maybe that's what it is. I prefer to think of it as “web carpentry“, as that seems to leave me with a few more options and fewer restrictions.

I carve out web pages, and build them up, from the bottom to the top. If my pages can't survive without styling, then they will be discarded. If they can't be styled to my liking, then they will be discarded too.

I know of no limitations in web design – other than lack of knowledge.
I don't like limitations.

I don't like to hear that my creations are “well designed”, as that usually points only to the visual aspect. Such a limited definition doesn't go well with me, as I am no surface-polisher.

I am, and have been for 25 years or so, a structural designer. The tools and media have changed over the years, but my mindset hasn't – content and structure always come before surface.

design = usability…

Readability and accessibility are major parts of what I see as the most important design factor: usability. Regular visitors seek information and/or services on a web page/site, they rarely ever come for its good look. If we want them to come back for more, then we'll have to get this web design factor right.

Not much good to say about a web design if we can't use it – regardless of how it looks. Therefore, high usability is the main ingredient in any good design, the look is a bonus at best and a nuisance at worst.

High usability isn't of much use unless it is widely distributed and can be experienced as such by most visitors. This can only be achieved through browser-independent design in accordance with web standards.

The term “most visitors” used above should ideally be written as “all visitors”. However, “some visitors” do exclude themselves somewhat by needlessly demanding non-standard degradation to suit their own non-standard-compliant software.

A minimum of effort should/must be expected from any visitor, in the name of “standard-compliant progress”. Thus, designing for high usability in obsolete software and hardware, is nonsense in most cases. Users of such software should only expect to be served on a pretty basic usability-level – if at all.

forget “print designs”…

Web designers comes in all shapes and many sizes, and many base their work on experience from other media, like print. Much good can come from the print-camp, but print-layouts and -designs are not well suited for the web. Web design isn't print!

Too many designers clash with the universality of the web for no good reason, and they keep on doing so again and againg although all they're achieving is failure after failure after failure. Must be the result of spending too much of ones time in cool but clueless circles amongst other “designers”.

Graphic designers are not web designers until they have learned to design for and with the web. Graphic design is an addition – surface polishing – in web design, and it doesn't make sense to polish the surface when there's nothing provided beyond the visual.

Print and graphic designers should have a read at You Can't Get Every Page to Look Identical, So Stop Trying! Every single web designer should read, and understand, what that article says.

I'm not the least interested in how anything is done within any non-web media when I'm working with web design. Imposing rules from other media onto web design, is one more limitation I can do without.

Most other media provide us with pretty static rules, once the creation-process is finished. The web on the other hand imposes its own set of dynamic rules that has to be taken into account from well before any design-process starts and until the entire creation is deleted.

One minor detail is Page Width and Length. I think my approach ends up as not used by anyone else, as most of my layouts won't break at all, and are able to go below 600px in width and stay there. Haven't thought much about length since that's depending on the amount of content in each page.

don't look at me…

Some do ask (seriously or not) if I have found the perfect recipe for creating great web designs. Of course I haven't!

I seriously dont think anyone can figure out a perfect recipe for anything web-related, and probably not for anything else either. Any recipe is “conditional” at best, and “a moronic mirage” at worst. Creating a recipe for disaster – and calling it by its right name – is probably easier.

Even the term “great web design” is a fairly brittle term. It is early days yet, and all existing web design methods and finals are weak and short-lived. Some web designs and solutions are just slightly better than others, and bits and pieces from those may last a bit longer and maybe even become parts of future design-rules and/or “best practices”.

I constantly try to sort out and improve on “best practices” within existing media, with the tools at hand. Sometimes I feel I'm a little bit closer than I were yesterday, and sometimes my attempts look like a series of massive regressions. Not much to brag about around here, apart from that even my regressions seem to work better than many “great web designs”.

This very site is a near-perfect example of web design as an ongoing process, as pretty much anything I can think of can be, and is, injected into it without me having to deal with serious breaking of the basic design. It isn't bulletproof and it certainly isn't foolproof, but it is quite robust™.

Of course: it would be ridiculous to base everyday web designs on the basic structures and styles used on this site, as the entire site is a testbed for what can and can not be done in web design at any one time. The process of designing, testing and rejecting within the existing framework, does provide me with a huge pile of alternatives, which I can dig into whenever I need a new, complete, solution.

I (do indeed) have a dream…

  • One day all creativity can be aimed at the presentation itself, and there will be no more browser-flaws and bugs to deal with.
  • One day all web designers will understand that it is the value of the content that is the real measure of a web page.
  • One day web designers will stop counting single pixels on screens, and start making their pages accessible and inviting.

…some of this dream is a reality now, but the rest…

working solutions…

I can provide some solid and well-working solutions. I can handle some more, but often restrict their use for usability-reasons.
All put together it will cover most needs - if I want to cover them. It's a 'personal preference' thing…

I can make web pages look as good as I want them in a lot of browsers. I never care about pixel-perfection - it only has to look perfectly right.

What I do and how I do it, is spread throughout this site, but of course: it isn't limited to what can be found here … did I mention that I don't like limitations?

I will not present a list of solutions, as that would be limiting to what a new, yet undiscovered, design may look like. The only limitation is what the tools can deliver and the media can handle.

Some are wondering how I organize my web design work, so here is my preferred approach/working-order. That's not a constant either.

hire me…?

You probably can't hire me, unless you know me well. The amount of web related work I've got, suits me just fine. No harm in asking though.

I don't negotiate prize or 'work for money' – not anymore, but I most certainly know what I'm worth.

I may help my friends, simply because I'm in the position to do so. I may accept or reject any offer, for the very same reason.

I don't know the meaning of "deadline" – unless it means that someone is dead on some line (hope it isn't me). I simply don't "walk lines", because it limits me.

There may not be too many limits to what I can do, but there's some strict limits to what I will do. I experience few problems within these limits.

do and don't…

I won't comment on other people's work unless they ask for it. I won't steal or copy other people's work either, but I may get inspired by a fragment here and there and turn it into something completely different.

I like to share with my friends on the web – both ways. The part of the web design community that is open for such an open policy, will get my support.

I'm a connoisseur when it comes to design – which means I will probably never be entirely satisfied with anything I can find on the world wide web or create myself. It doesn't bother me much though, as I can live and work quite well without that satisfaction.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 01.nov.2004
last rev: 25.nov.2007

web design...

'PTL' is an abbrevation.
What it stands for isn't important, but it has its origin way back in time – long before the 'WWW'.


  • introduction
  • Table of Content


  • this is PTL web-design
  • more about design
  • CSS sledgehammer
  • Lynx enhanced page
  • Print enhanced page
  • Projection enhanced
  • Small Screen enhanced page
  • validity of xhtml and CSS
  • html tidy
  • Opera and me
  • Firefox vs. IE
the usual
  • the author
  • Copyright
the unusual
  • Molly speaks up
the additional
  • Examples
  • Demo pages
Dear web design experts:

I design web-pages and -sites for a lot of reasons – mostly because I like to explore…
— Georg

Dear web surfer:

Everyone has the right to their own opinions.
I don't freeze-dry mine, as they are bound to change…
— Georg

external resources:

…2005 - 2007
last rev: 25.nov.2007