Ethan Marcotte now blogs at Unstoppable Robot Ninja.

Weblog entry:

Givin’ a talk at Harvard.

On 24 July, I’ll be giving a talk at the monthly ABCD-WWW meeting here at Harvard on standards-based web design. I just got the confirmation, and I’m all sortsa excited.

Here’s the cheesy-sounding abstract:

The client comes to you, insisting that her site needs to "look good in version 4.0 browsers and higher". You nod wearily, dust off your collection of document.layers/document.all detection scripts, begin cutting your design up into at least three levels of nested tables, and pepper <FONT> tags throughout your templates. So, yes — your client’s site will look impeccable in those 4.0 browsers; but each page weighs 100k, looks terrible in a text-only browser or handheld device, and — even worse — can take hundreds of your billable hours to perform the next redesign.

To paraphrase one great web designer, it’s time to get off the merry-go-round.

Using valid, standards-compliant markup (HTML or XHTML) and CSS, you can deliver striking sites that are lightweight, easily modified, and on the right side of the accessibility issue. During the presentation, I’ll show a few real-world examples (including HGSE’s recently redesigned course platform for the WIDE World project) in which web standards have been used to shorten development cycles, abstract presentation logic from page content, exponentially improve page download times, and heighten compliance with federal accessibility guidelines. As developers authoring forward-compatible, standards-compliant websites, we can help ensure that our sites will be still be around in years to come — even as today’s browsers, internet devices, and standards evolve.

Needless to say, my notes are peppered with strategies and quotes from Zeldman’s new book, and from months of reading/research on sites such as stopdesign, CSS/Edge,, and many more.

Here’s hoping I can do a little justice to my sources.


Hooray, technical difficulties.

There’s a WordPress issue that’s currently preventing old comments from displaying correctly. Sorry for the inconvenience, but hopefully we’ll be back online soon.