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late Summer issue

shopworthy February 2003


TechTalk

In terms of design, we are now at version 5 - i.e., five different ways of displaying similar information. In the case of the three most recent iterations, the underlying content has been mostly the same - just growing as new reviews have arrived.

The idea of 'the separation of style from content' is one that has great appeal to me as it allows for content development staff to easily write and update content with really minimal intervention from the techie (i.e., me). This allows us to keep the website in the style of the writer, while not being influenced by the requirements of web code.

My aim in web design these days is to ensure that all visitors can use the site, whether they visit using a web browser, a Palm Pilot, a Mobile Phone or if they are listening to the site. 90% of Internet users visit webpages using Internet Explorer - this does not (in my opinion) mean we should design just for them. Nor does this mean we should abandon all the elements of good design ... however, that's just my opinion ;)

click to enlarge (popup 68K)The first two iterations of the Shopworthy website did not follow any web standards except the standard of doing things in the bad old way. When I say that, I mean that the site structure was coded for one browser only - admittedly the one that 85% of users at the time were using (Internet Explorer) - but still, it's not the best way to do things. But despite that - it looked great, but here was the other problem with the site in those days - it was very graphics intensive and could take up to 30 seconds to load all the images on a regular 56K dialup modem connection. This also was not an ideal way to design a website - especially one that was aimed at those who are most unlikely to have high-speed Internet connectivity at their fingertips.

click to enlarge (popup 62K)Version 3 was when I started getting the bee in my bonnet about web standards and things went pear shaped for a while as we had our internal discussions and decided to go with the bee. Once this decision was made, a radical turnabout in design was concieved and the whole site was launched in a popup window with a very stylised background picture as though the visitor to the site was on a plane coming in to land in Melbourne. Again, it looked great, but took about 20 seconds to load on a 56K modem and we never got much past the initial design phase before part of the team's life gained a level of complexity that can only be brought on by the arrival of a baby.

... did I mention you are now looking at version 5? We believe we've settled on a design that works and suits our style and we would really appreciate your feedback.


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