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Oliver Dore

I enjoyed the post Andy, but I do disagree to an extent.

Firstly, that ‘ignorance is bliss’ – you’re assuming that the client doesn’t care what’s going into the product you’re delivering for them. Isn’t part of our job educating the client on what we do – and why do it? True, only to a certain level, but I don’t believe explaining why users of different browsers will view/interact with the site in a different ways exceeds that level. We’re not magicians (though Arthur C. Clarke may disagree), and assuming the client doesn’t need to know tells me that we’re no longer developing the site for them; We’re developing for ourselves so we can get pats on our backs from the community for using CSS rounded corners, drop shadows and gradients.

Secondly, this approach has the capacity to neglect your target audience. These effects are nice, but what if over half your audience are using IE6/7 (a project I worked on not too long ago)? These were not people in developing countries, or those using cracked copies of Windows and couldn’t upgrade. Office workers, schools, my Mum! (sorry Mum…)

Do we diminish their experience because it makes our job easier?

I’m all for ‘progressive enhancement’ – but not at a cost for the core audience. If I need to put in the work to realize the creative vision for the majority audience, that’s what I’ll do. Will it be enjoyable? Probably not. Does it matter? It absolutely does.

Finally, ‘designing within the browser’. From my experience, there is capacity for this to work. But it is limited. It requires a client that has faith in what you’re delivering and isn’t going to request multiple directions and multiple iterations – otherwise the initial ease and flexibility of working within the browser is simply negated. I also agree with Bren – working with your tool simply limits your vision. It’s natural – your tools are already laid out in front of you, so to speak. You already have mental and technical limitations, despite the blank canvas. I have the pleasure of working with highly talented designers on a daily basis, and it would be easy for me to point out aspects of their designs that are technically challenging – or ridiculous. They come from a different mind-set, and though they may have knowledge of development, they’re not constrained by the same experiences we are. But that ‘ridiculous’ is what pushes us further than we believe we can go.

The design is better for it, the result is better for it. Ignorance is bliss? Ignorance is what we help the client overcome. In fact, it might be just as rewarding as delivering the site itself.