Design Like It’s 1999

I’ve been in the POD/ebook business and online making websites for twenty plus years now. Website hosts come and go. Book vendors come and go, both ebook and print-on-demand. Social media rises to prominence, pushing aside more secure private email discussion lists. Things change. Right? Well, not as much as some might think.

What I find funny is the so-called new design method for websites and apps. New? Really? Are you sure? Let me see. Do away with heavy buttons and loud backgrounds in favor of softer graphics, which are smaller and therefore take less time to load. Narrow the layout to fit inside 800 pixels wide, which accommodates most smartphones and tablets turned landscape. Avoid sidebars and footers, where possible. Make it soft, compact, and flowing.

Wait. Give me a moment to stop and have a good laugh. This is not a new way of designing web content. It’s how we did it in 1999, designing inside a 800W x 600H (in pixels) template for display on 13″ to 15″ monitors using slow dial-up internet.

As DSL came into being along with large LED flat screen monitors, websites got bigger, wider, flashier. Then came smartphones and tablets, creating a generation of squinty-eyed users turning their phones around and around, scrolling up and down, trying to make large websites work on small devices.

Here’s where it gets really funny. The “new” optimum design model (width by height in pixels) is to accommodate current mobile devices — drum roll, please — on 800W x 600H. If you stopped a moment to laugh, join the crowd. I laughed as I typed this.

Yes, the same design specs used in the late nineties are now being used to make web content fit mobile devices. I guess the old saying that eventually everything old becomes new again also applies to website design.

Here are some examples of mobile-friendly HTML sites: Terri Branson Home WebsiteDragon POVDragons Incarnate series

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