The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Published June 30, 2006
Liquid Designs has been up and running for almost 10 months. To this day I still manage the site on my own. Lately I’ve been extremely busy with some other web projects, but I have still been able to keep the gallery updated. Even without much activity, Liquid Designs still fares well becuase it remains as the only website dedicated to successful fluid design with CSS. It ranks number one for most searches related to liquid design on Google and other search engines, and it is linked on a lot of blogs and almost every list of CSS galleries. I’m proud of my site and I plan to continue updating and improving it.
I get about 3 submissions a day for the gallery. These submissions come from all over the world. Every submission is tested as such:
1. Open the site in the latest version of Mozilla Firefox.
2. Check for at least one fluid or elastic column by resizing the window and text.
3. Check to see that the underlying markup is not hideous.
4. Decide if the site looks decent and works allright.
### The Good ###
I get some great websites. Some are submitted while others are found by me during my cyber-surfing. There are some very talented CSS designers out there who are not afraid of flexibility in their design. I look forward to reviewing their sites for the next round of the Hall of Fame.
### The Bad ###
I get some bad websites too. There are a million reasons why a flexible site may be bad, and I’m getting close to seeing them all. Some examples:
– Some sites are too inaccessible or unusable to be good examples of fluid design. Some problems I have seen are very low contrast, poor color scheme, and lousy typography. Some of the these problems are much more detrimental to usability than using a fixed width layout.
– Some sites just don’t have a good reason for being liquid or elastic. Some have only one column that is adjustable, and while this column adjusts to the screen size or browser setting, the other columns break apart like any fixed width site would. Others have a liquid content section that only has pictures with fixed dimensions… go figure.
– Some sites are so simple that I can tell the designer didn’t actually put any effort into their work. I blame the designers who insisted simple was “in.” Now we have all these ugly sites with no attempts at actual design that claim to be “in.” “In” the trash pile is more like it.
– A few sites are clearly based on Hemingway; as in, the designer started with Hemingway, added a background image on the content section, and sent it in. This is not CSS Drive.
– Then there are some sites that are just ugly. I can’t be showing ugly sites to the world. Those have to be kept hidden away so nobody sees them. Surely you understand?
Despite all these examples, the worst submission I have received tops them all. About a week ago I got a site with a liquid layout that had the min-width set to something just below 1024 pixels. Why anyone would go through the trouble of designing a flexible site only to disregard the lowest common denominator of viewport width is beyond me. I have to assume that the designer who made that site just does not get the point of flexible design.
I wish I had the time to e-mail the designer of every site I reject and explain why the site was rejected, but I don’t. I think it’s safe to say to anyone who submits a site that if it doesn’t appear within a year, it never will.
### The Ugly ###
There there is the insane amount of fixed width sites I receive. Most of them are in a foreign language, so it’s safe to assume that the submitter does not speak English and has no idea there are guidelines on submitting sites. Still, I do get some in English and combined these sites make up about 80% of the submissions I receive. That means that for every liquid or elastic site someone sends me, I get 4 fixed width sites as well. Does this sound annoying? Did it sound annoying the last time I mentioned it? I can tell that a lot of designers, upon completing a site, will start with a list of CSS galleries and run down it, blindly submitting to each one. I can’t blame them; there’s about 5 billion CSS galleries and they all provide a quality inbound link from a site with a decent Pagerank. If I made a dashboard widget to automate this entire process, they would probably pay me for it, but that’s besides the point. I just wish they would recognize that Liquid Designs is not a typical CSS gallery. I have a standard here. A consistent one. Respect.
### Epilogue ###
That’s the status; where am I headed? My current plans are to add more languages to the submission page (please contact me if you speak a language other than Spanish or German and you would like to help out) and to redesign the site. Everything will take time, but it’s worth it. I love this site and always have. Here’s to many more years of cheering for the underdog, even with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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