No matter how good a designer you are,
if your Web pages fall apart in other
people's browsers, all your efforts are
wasted. Broken pages can never look good.
Many designers are content to create
their pages in Dreamweaver, GoLive, or
some other WYSIWYG editor, all without
getting their hands dirty on source code.
Fine. But although they are referred to
as WYSIWYG editors, they most certainly
are not. You are lulled into a false
sense of security. What YOU see is not
necessarily what other people get.
There are all kinds of reasons why the
pages that look just fine on your own
computer give others a less than
enthralling experience. There are
different operating systems, browsers,
browser versions, monitors and countless
other variables. Although the majority
of people use PCs with Chrome or Microsoft
Edge, there are millions
who have made a conscious decision not
to! Even within the majority, there are
high degrees of variance – monitor sizes,
resolutions and colour depths, internet
speeds, versions of Windows, Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
The fact is, you can't take anything for
granted. You can't expect your designs
to look absolutely identical on every
computer. Web design is just not like
that. There are situations where they
can break completely - elements shift to
a different place on the page or
So, whose fault is it? Can you blame the
WYSIWYG editor or browser manufacturers?
Can you blame the computer and monitor
makers? Well, put it this way, whose
fault is it if someone builds a huge
sandcastle on a beach and moves-in with
the wife and kids?
So, you have time on your hands but not
much money and decide to build your own
house. There was a time when everybody
did this. You know what rooms you need -
hall, living room, dining room, kitchen,
bathroom, a few bedrooms. If you need
more, you can add them on later. You've
been in lots of other houses so you have
a pretty good idea how they work. It's
not too difficult to sketch a layout for
your new house on a piece of paper and
take it from there.
You buy a plot of land and have a few
truckloads of building materials
delivered - bricks, lumber, sand, cement,
nails and all that stuff.
Now, any three-year-old kid knows how to
stack bricks on top of one another to
make a wall and nailing some planks of
wood together is no big deal either. You
build the house and move in.
Building your own home page is very like
building a house. Both require a degree
of planning, a sound knowledge of basic
construction methods and ability to use
the tools required.
Few people would attempt to build their
own house these days; they would get
somebody else to do it for them, someone
who already has the necessary skills and
tools. Nobody in their right mind would
attempt to build their own store or
Putting a building together, well one
that is going to stand up for any length
of time, requires that you know about
foundation laying, how to build viable
walls on the foundations, how to put a
water-tight roof on top. You also have
to consider windows and doors, plumbing,
electrics, drainage. Then there are less
obvious things like sound and heat
insulation, damp-proof coursing,
fire-proofing and that is all before we
even begin to think about the comforts
like paint colours and drapes.
In the professional world, no single
person does all of these things. It
requires teamwork, many specialists each
with their own skills. The "do-it-yourself"
builder will of course, go where angels
fear to tread - and totally oblivious of
What's the worst that can happen if you
build your own Web page and get it wrong?
It's unlikely to kill anyone, unlike the
self-built house, car or airplane. The
worst thing it can do is crash the
reader's computer - yes it does happen.
Less dramatic than that, and more likely,
is that it will just fail to display as
The first mistake that an amateur Web
designer makes is to assume that because
it looks okay on his or her computer, it
will look the same for everybody else.
The second mistake they make is in
trusting that the WYSIWYG editor they
are using is writing correct HTML code.
No current WYSIWYG editor writes totally
valid HTML code out of the box! Some get
in nearly right, or can be persuaded to
get it right with a little tweaking.
Some do a dreadful job - but I won't
name names here for obvious reasons.