An open letter in defence of "tableless" recoders | September 27, 2003
At the moment there is a bit of a trend happening amongst web standards enthusiasts. A number of talented web desingers have given up their free time to build standards compliant versions of their favorite sites.
Along with this has come the appearance of redesign competitions like WThRemix and more recently ReUSEIT. By encouraging people to recode and redesign a well known and well loved web site, the idea of these competitions is to provide "a design challenge for coders, and a coding challenge for designers".
Unfortunately not everybody agrees.
In a recent open letter to tableless recoders, the author questions these peoples motives and suggests they are doing more harm than good.
However I really think the author has missed the point. He naively assumes that the only reason people are recoding sites is "to show off how good you are at CSS". However I don't believe people are doing tableless redesigns for such base and cynical reasons.
The truth is, the majority of these redesigns are done by CSS enthusiasts for fun and as a personal challenge.
These enthusiasts pick a site because it's a site they love. They are not deliberately trying to antagonize the site owners. After all why would you spend days/weeks of your precious time into a project who's sole intention was to rub the original designers nose in their work. People are just not that spiteful. In fact I'd assume most people would be rather unhappy if they found out their work had upset the original designers.
The fact is, most people are doing this as a labour of love. Love of the site and love of CSS based design.
It's true, some people are also making a point. however the point isn't that the site designers should have done the site using CSS. The point is that the site could be done in CSS. The audience for the redesign isn't the designers and site owners, it's other CSS enthusiasts.
These kind of redesigns are also very community spirited. Big portals like those run by Yahoo and BBC are seen as integral parts of the web community. They have almost become web public services and people feel emotionally tied to these sites. As such I feel it's a great testament to theses sites that they engender such deep feelings in people, they actually want to get involved and help make them (and the web community in general) better.
It's not often you find busy people willing to give up their time and expertise for the benefit of the community. Whether they are passionate about a site, or about web standards, this is something that should be encouraged, not dissuaded. I want to see more people getting involved with the web not less.
Finally, rather than an egotistical display of peoples CSS skills, these redesigns are simply personal challenges. People do them because they are fun, because they are difficult and because it gives them a chance to try out existing skills and learn new ones.
So I think we should applaud this individuals and I personally hope to see more great redesigns in the coming months.
Posted at September 27, 2003 5:59 PM