An approach to web design
The core technologies of the world wide web, HTML and CSS, provide an embarrassment of riches for an author to design and publish a web page that presents words and images to their audience. With the same technologies an author can also create a web page that gathers input from a visitor, does useful work, and responds. The most rudimentary web page, if created with a modicum of care, is accessible to visitors who do not use their eyes to read nor their hands to touch, to visitors with poor internet connectivity and to those using computing devices with scant resources.
This essay proposes a list of rudiments, the base properties of web pages. Every web page naturally has these rudiments, which come practically for free when the HTML has been designed with basic respect for the medium. Indeed it takes a special effort to erase them.
- A web page is semantically clear.
- A web page is legible.
- A web page is modifiable.
- A web page is resilient to failure.
<div> soup” of elements with no semantic meaning. It can be styled to look correct, but it will be illegible to users of assistive technologies; this erases rudiments 1 and 2. The
<canvas> element is a structural void in a page that can be made accessible with enough effort by the author, but it can never be modified by the visitor; this erases rudiment 3. In extreme cases of overuse, the
<canvas> element erases all four rudiments.
How can the rudiments be secured? A web page can use
This author believes that web pages are often complex but need not be, and many could be reduced to a more rudimentary state without adversely affecting their ability to serve their immediate purpose – in fact many web pages could better serve their purpose for more of their visitors more of the time if they were reduced to a more rudimentary state. Others need not agree with these assertions. Whatever an author decides for their page, their choices can be altered by a visitor in disagreement, so long as the rudiments are not erased by carelessness, or worse, by deliberate action.
A web page belongs to its visitors. This is a unique and valuable quality of the medium that we authors must do our part to protect.