Web Design Axioms

Over the last 5.5 years as a Web developer, I have picked up several “axioms” that have made my job easier. Today I was reminded of two of them while helping a friend work through some layout issues.

Josh Cramer’s First Rule Of Web Design:

“It only does what you tell it to do.”

Josh was my one of my early mentors as a fledgling Web designer in the private sector (I had worked in higher education for a little while before that, learning rudimentary basics of programming and HTML). I’m not sure he realized the wisdom he was uttering. I think he was just exasperated with us young know-nothing programmers complaining about how we couldn’t figure out the bugs in our code.

But you know, it’s a simple, “no duh” statement that is utterly true. If you are having “problems with a browser”, don’t blame your browser (except for IE, blame IE all you want). Blame your markup. Which brings me to a second axiom I picked up along the way.

Matt’s Second Rule of Web Design:

When in doubt, validate.

I have no idea who said it first (I’m giving this one to Dave), but it is insanely useful to me. That is, it gets newbie Web developers (hehe… sorry Salem…) off my back while I’m working.

I often find myself in the position of helping fledgling Web designers figure out how actually write HTML. Not only does this axiom save me time, it teaches them how to fix their own bugs, and helps them learn proper markup.

I think these two axioms are akin to Mr. Miyagi’s “wax on, wax off.”: simplistic, and frustrating for a new Web designer, but they teach you core principles of Web design while following them.

Do you have any other “Axioms” that you work by?






2 responses to “Web Design Axioms”

  1. Marc Grobman Avatar

    I know this is not so practical, but more etherial… our firm’s philosophy is “Best to be like water” which comes from a passage of the Tao. Chapter 8 ». This always gives me a little peace and inspiration.

    On the other hand, whenever we agonize over a project, Sally Dew, our prez, pokes us with “If design were easy everyone would be doing it.” I don’t know if this is much of an axiom. And some days it sure seems like everyone is doing it! But it reminds me that often you have to really dig and toil for inspiring design.

  2. Noyan Avatar

    “Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two.”

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