HTML5, CSS3 and being realistic

There are some amazing technologies in the works for the web. Technologies that will change the way web designers work forever more, or will they?

There’s a plethora of information on the web about HTML5, CSS3 and the development utopia they’re promising.

I haven’t used HTML5 yet, but I’m already incorporating CSS3 tricks into my standard workflow.

Here’s the problem. The new tricks only work on the newest crop of browsers out there, and even on the latest browser support is spotty on different tricks. Yes, the new tricks are sweet. Yes, I absolutely love box-shadow and border-radius. Yes, I can develop a beautiful interface without an image editor getting involved. Yes.

So what’s the problem again? It’s the real world. The ugly real world where office workers exist in a Windows 2000 network environment. They can’t get a new browser. They’re stuck with software that’s a decade old.

These people are real users and make up as much as 10% of real internet traffic globally.  These people cannot be left behind. They need an acceptable interface too.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been in a situation where there was this fabulous technology that allowed for a beautiful experience. I remember when Flash was the new answer to old problems.

At that time I wanted to build everything in Flash. Just like CSS3/HTML5, I could develop right in Flash and no Photoshop was necessary. Trouble was, many, many people didn’t have the Flash Player installed yet.

You couldn’t safely develop for Flash. Tons of people would see nothing at all.

I realized I had to take a step backwards and work with the technologies that are reliable across the board. At the time (think 2001, people) that was HTML 4 Strict and a little CSS 2.1.

CSS 2.1 was the CSS3 of today. Barely any properties were supported. I had to start using it regardless because of the immense benefits, like cached images and removing redundancies in the HTML.  Same thing we’re facing today. It’s funny.

My point?

Well, I have a bunch of projects in my queue, all of which will have interfaces made with CSS3 and then including fallbacks for older browsers.

I look forward to offering some comparisons as I get further along with these projects so I can show you how I handled the CSS3 challenges. I’ll be using HTML 4 Strict still as the elements in HTML5 that are new are far from being supported almost anywhere.

The challenges are of course the various Internet Explorers out there.

First we have IE6. No CSS3 period. No transparent .png images. Nothing.

Then there’s IE7. No CSS3 period. Transparent .png images are allowed.

Then there’s IE8. Same as IE7 but a couple other odd layout bugs to solve.

I could include IE5/5.5 but I can’t make fixes for EVERYTHING…

More to come soon.

About Joseph R. B. Taylor

Joseph R. B. Taylor is a humble designer/developer who makes stuff for screens of all shapes and sizes. He is currently the lead UI/UX Architect at MScience, LLC, where he works to create simple experiences on top of large rich datasets for their customers and clients.