Over the last few weeks, I seem to have been working as hard on the computer at home as I would have been when in full time employment. The somewhat frustrating target of my efforts has been a new “integrated” personal web site. I wanted to expand my original photograph site to include a blog (using WordPress) and a guestb00k. The best approach seemed to be to start with one of the many available WordPress themes, modify it and make the current photographic section of the site fall in line with it. It also seemed best to use WordPress, somewhat modified, as my guestb00k; this would give me some spam control.
I did not have a great deal of hair left when I started. Had I had some, I would certainly have very little left now. It certainly isn’t the fault of WordPress, which I think is a brilliant piece of freeware. The bulk of the problems are trying to go along with the various W3C standards like CSS and XHTML. Again, it’s not really the standards that are the problem, although I do find some of the CSS specifications a bit flakey (try centering various things, particularly vertically, for example), but the widely varying implementations in the world’s browsers. I was keen to go with “strict” XHTML until I ran into a little limitation of not being allowed to open links in a new window (target=”_blank” not allowed). How daft is that? It’s apparently because we are not supposed to assume a visual environment. This is a photographic site, for heaven’s sake ; it requires a visual environment.
After two false starts caused by my not liking the end result, I’d finally come up with a third design that I liked and that worked the same (mostly – IE still doesn’t seem to like the :before pseudo element) on the four major browsers. I deployed it and was quite pleased with it, though I’m still concerned about the home page being a bit nothing.
My screen is large and has a resolution of 1280 by 1024. Our photographs are sized to fit a 750 by 500 pixel box. I’d have thought that would fit with room to spare on a relatively normal screen resolution of 1024 by 768 (which is actually the maximum resolution on Carol’s lap top). Wrong, apparently. Poor Carol was having to scroll down to get all the photograph, then back up to the navigation bar to go to the next/previous photo. Blast! Not user-friendly enough, as we used to say at work. The darned browsers themselves take up too much real estate to leave room both for a 500-pixel high image and a small navigation bar. They seem to be missing something: their main purpose is to view web pages, not themselves. Maybe our photos are simply too large.
Anyway, I’ve been through the proverbial hoops once again and regenerated all our photograph pages with a modified layout much more like those of our first web site incarnation. This has been at the expense of the “integrating” top navigation bar, for which there simply wasn’t room at 1024 by 768. 🙁
I’m considering detecting the user’s screen resolution and having two separate sets of photograph pages, one for resolutions >1024 and another for the rest. Now there’s going overboard.