The Heartbreak of OCWR (Obsessive-Compulsive Website Redesign)

I've redesigned this website.


It's a sickness.

I'm sure regular readers of this website (if any still exist) are likely fed up with me. It's been over a year since I last added a new story to this site. Not that my stories are all that interesting. But, I'm sure a new story would likely be far more entertaining than seeing the same old crap endlessly shuffled around in redesign after redesign.

Sorry. Like I said, it's a sickness.

Normally, I redesign this site simply because I enjoy doing so. It's fun. I like tinkering with all the stuff behind the scenes - the HTML, JavaScript, Java, Perl, CGI, SSI, and such. But this time, I didn't do it for fun. I did it for survival. Since my current job situation is so tenuous, I wanted to be able to demonstrate to any potential future employer that I can create a website using XTHML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). That's the latest and greatest stuff around, you know.

In retrospect, it's a good thing I didn't embark on this redesign for fun. Because, it has not been fun. Much like cucumbers, I like CSS, but CSS does not like me. Burp.

You see, I'm from the old school. I'm accustomed to carving graphics into a thousand pieces, embedding them in tables nested 20 layers deep, and sprinkling handfuls of invisible gifs to position things just right. In the past, anything I could picture in my mind, I could make appear on your browser. I could do it in my sleep. However, proper use of CSS means every trick I've learned since 1996 is now completely wrong. No more designing in my sleep.

All the CSS experts say "content" must now be totally separated from "presentation". That means using tables for layout is now a sin. Using a <B> tag to make text bold is un-American. Using a <FONT> tag will send you straight to hell.

There's one other thing that really bothers me about adopting CSS: It's sort of rude. You see, in the past, I've gone to great lengths to support every version of every browser known to mankind. My Southern manners dictated I welcome every visitor equally, regardless of browser preference. But, I can't do that with CSS. If you've got an older browser, or WebTV, this website may look a little strange. If you're using Netscape Navigator 4 it's going to look like warm vomit. (If you're curious, the top of this page should look something like this.)

This site has been tested using up-to-date versions Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, and Opera, and is 100% compliant with the World Wide Web's Consortium's XTHML 1.0 and Cascading Style Sheet specifications. I've also done my best to provide support for vision-impaired visitors. (Pages smoothly scale to the user-selected font size, alternate captions have been provided for all graphics, and repetitive menus have been moved to the end of the XHTML document.) At least I've tried to be nice.

So, after countless hours of redesign, am I happy with the results? Not so much. Like most rookie attempts at CSS design, things look a little too boxy and bland for my taste. The design could be much, much better.

I'll fix it next time my OCWR acts up.