Regular visitors may have noticed that my homepage has changed a bit in the past few days. The old one was too cluttered and contained too much information. Besides, it didn't have any space left for the new Elsewhere on the 'Net feature. So I significantly revised my main blog pages and the content they deliver to the homepage.
Like my recently started validation drive, the homepage restructuring is just one aspect of the full-fledged QuirksMode.org redesign I'm planning. Besides, the redesign set me thinking about separation of structue and content.
I use frames. My graphic design is not so much bad as well bloody boring, and it doesn't support the content too well. The amount of content becomes even more staggering with every passing month; and I have to shoehorn ever more significant parts into the homepage, which has become rather (too much?) information-rich.
Time for a total redesign.
Since I completely agree with Andy Clarke's call for more cultural diversity in web design, the graphics will be created by a Dutch designer. I need some interface design and usability advice, too. Finally, I suppose the backend (MT) needs some subtle tweaks.
And that doesn't even mention the navigation, which will have to be de-framed, but which I flatly refuse to include (either hard-coded or through SSI) in every content page. Right now my sitemap/navigation page is 25K, and that's really too much of an additional download to include in every single page on my site. Instead, I suppose a bit of nifty AJAX scripting is called for, and Chris Heilmann gave me the start of an idea in the fringes of @media 2005.
Although I've got my dream team already lined up in my mind, and I know roughly which steps we should take, the real, visible work will start in late August at the earliest, and maybe even much later. Nonetheless, the remake of the interface is only one aspect of the QuirksMode.org redesign.
The validation drive I started earlier is of course meant to move all pages as close to XHTML 1.0 Trans as possible. A second, and maybe even more important, goal is to review all content on this site, and to rewrite it where possible.
The validation/rewrite drive has already started and will proceed more or less independently of the redesign. This gives raise to an interesting point, which has theoretical and practical implementations.
The content of this site will change. The structure won't.
Right now I use a style sheet which, unsurprisingly, hinges on the current structure of my pages. My future style sheet will do the same. To make sure the transition between style sheets goes as smoothly as possible, I can therefore not change the structure of my pages during the validation/rewrite drive.
Besides, one of the big advantages of separation of structure and presentation is supposed to be that I can just upload a new style sheet, and presto, my site has changed without any need to edit the actual pages. One of the purposes of the redesign is to find out if this scheme of things actually works in practice.
Significantly updating my site content means that I'll add or remove headers, paragraphs,
<div>s with compatibility information, and anything else that might be necessary. Nonetheless, this does not affect the structure of my site (or at least, it shouldn't).
Structurally, the main text of any page remains marked up with paragraphs that are direct children of the
<body>, and whether or not I change the number and content of these paragraphs doesn't matter. That's what I mean when I say the content will change, but the structure won't.
Is it time to add separation of structure and content to our best practices? Is this a fundamental feature of standards-aware, modern web development that has received too little attention?
Or am I way behind the times and have people already written on this subject? If so, pointers would be welcome.
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