Album Cover: Kid A

"We got heads on sticks. You got ventriloquists."
Radiohead / Kid A

Posted on May 16, 2007 12:42 AM in Web Design
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Imagine if every article you read in a newspaper was written in a different font, at a different size, with different text justification and with a different presentational style. Imagine each article was surrounded by different colors and varying indices into the article content, and had ads strewn about in all haphazard ways imaginable.

What you are imagining is browsing the web.

It's amazing how willing we are as consumers of content to get bombarded with non-standard approaches to presentation over and over and over again. It's not like it's an occasional thing. When you leave my blog, you'll arrive at yet another website with another approach to presenting its content. It won't live by your will have to live by its.

If you're consuming a majority of the content you read in a feed reader, then you're having to deal with this issue less often, but there are issues on that side of the spectrum as well.

Even as web standards have evolved and conscientious web developers have started to be more consistent, using things like unordered lists for navigation elements, etc., there still aren't fool-proof, standard ways to mark major elements of web pages with semantic purpose.

Imagine if web developers started using microformats or some other semantic markup to indicate where the navigational elements of their web pages live, or better yet, where the main page content begins and ends. This would allow consumers of content to take control of the web pages they read, choosing to present the content consistently across content sources using things like Greasemonkey scripts or, in the future, general browser settings.

Would you be interested in taking control of the way content is presented, or do you think this goes against the freedom currently available to web designers and developers to express themselves in a visual, distinct manner? Is there a middle ground?


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