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Making News with Web standards : Comments

By Jim Ramsey

October 27, 2004


Andrew Arch

October 28, 2004 12:41 AM

This experience is similar to that of Fairfax Digital in Australia with their redesign of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald – see Brett Jackson’s talk to WSG in Melbourne recently at


October 28, 2004 4:04 AM

It’s really encouraging to see high-profile sites adopting css-layout techniques! :) is another popular one that has recently gone for this.


October 28, 2004 4:30 AM

Heh…I had exactly the same good fealing after CSS-based Stan James web site was put to life. HTML dropped 2-4x, Javascript (extensively used) dropped 3x etc.

And we will be running a second client next week using exactly the same HTML code, with different styles and layout. Something entirely impossible with table-based layouts.

Just think about support & maintenance cost savings in such case.

On SJ, we also used HTTP compression, which gives you 5-10x more speed, with the same content.

Seth Thomas Rasmussen

October 28, 2004 7:11 AM

I was linked to the Examiner site recently. I am mucho impressed, that’s good to see. Kudos!

Jan Schmidt

October 28, 2004 7:46 AM

Thank you for such an excellent and encouraging article!

Roman Filippov

October 28, 2004 11:39 AM

Good job Jim. I totally feel you. I had the same “transitional” effect from tables to CSS. I was also amazed how many spacers were just not needed anymore. And the ease of updating just beats it all. No more hours of searching through the code to find THE element to edit one word.

Wedding Dresses

October 28, 2004 11:59 AM

We’re working to upgrade our site and it’s a tough job to crawl up the CSS learning curve. Thanks for an inspiring and energizing article!


October 28, 2004 12:08 PM

I agree with you Jim that CSS is the way to go, and have for the most part switched my site to it. But, I have to say, there are some issues working with it.

The biggest problem I have found stems from the incorrect implementation of the standards. Often I’ll build a page that looks fine in IE for PCs, only to find it looks “broken” on Mozilla or IE for Mac OS9. In fact you’ll find looks different in IE for Mac OS9.

One article I found that helped is entitled ‘Integrated Web Design: Strategies for Long-term CSS Hack Management’ by Molly Holzschlag. You should be able to find it at

Hope that helps.


Chris Moritz

October 28, 2004 3:13 PM

Good work! It’s quite gratifying to see the kind of bandwidth and markup savings one enjoys from a standards-based design.

Paul D

October 28, 2004 3:15 PM

Very nice. I must say the fast loading time and clean look of the new site gives it a definite advantage over other news sites.

Interesting how tableless CSS design is also resulting in better website designs, since it seems to encourage more planning for structure, presentation, whitespace, typography, and all the other details.


October 28, 2004 11:46 PM

Thanks for the article. I’m an amateur web designer. My personal site is transitional, I guess – has some tables and some CSS for text styles. I’m trying to learn more about CSS now.

Brady White

October 31, 2004 9:24 AM

Enjoyed the article thoroughly. CSS takes web design for content back to the original design for content, newspapers. Now we see both online. Congrats on the Examiner, produced very well.

Josh Renaud

November 1, 2004 7:33 PM

I work at a daily paper in the midwest as a news page designer. Our website is absolutely atrocious… not only is it ugly and difficult to navigate, but the code is bloated and full of javascript, etc.

I took the time to try to find other metropolitan daily papers who had standards-compliant sites, and could find none. I’m glad to know there’s one out there now.

Maybe I can meet with the web folks here and encourage them to make the switch, if a redesign opportunity comes up.

Quique Borred

November 2, 2004 7:16 AM

Found the article really clarifying and encouraging. Thanx. I’ll try and pass it around our designers and coders, so they can see the real power of CSS design. Unfortunately, our client won’t be that eager to switch to it’s use … they still have us code their pages in plain html, and check them at Netscape 4.5!!!


November 3, 2004 7:10 AM

Excellent! The examiner looks great and the CSS is very clean, and professional. I’m glad to see more and more people are switching from tables to CSS. It’s the way the web was meant to be.


November 13, 2004 12:22 PM

I’ve been trying to convert a major site to CSS but wow, the learning curve has been a little steep for me. The main problem being that part of our audience is still using Netscape 4.7! ARGH!!! Macs, PC, all the myriad of browsers….it’s intimidating and slow going.


November 14, 2004 10:02 PM

It is good to see more articles like this. I (and other teachers at the technical college where I work have been teaching standards based design for the last two years.

Just a note to Geoff above – it is actually Internet Explorer that is ‘broken’ and doesn’t display CSS/XHTML correctly. Internet Explorer for Mac OS X has been left at version 5.2 with no future development possible. Internet Explorer 6 is the last ‘standalone’ browser so look at using Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari and other standards based browsers that don’t depend on *.dll’s or other Microsoft technologies like ActiveX and not only will your pages be more efficient they won’t contain the security issues associated with the Microsoft technologies.

Greetings for Down Under.

Jonas Smithson

December 17, 2004 6:08 PM

The Examiner layout is handsome and the code is much cleaner than most newspaper sites; congratulations. However, before you start bragging about your standards-based site, you might want to see if the HTML validates at W3C. I just checked and it didn’t — although, to be fair, it came much closer than other newspaper sites I’ve seen. (Your CSS did validate.) One problem you have (as of today, anyway) is that the server is sending out an HTTP header for a different encoding than your metatags indicate. This isn’t exactly nitpicking, since that error may result in garbage characters in some users’ browsers. Overall, though, it’s a visually appealing site and it looks like you did a fine job.

Jim Ramsey

December 30, 2004 3:05 PM

In response to Jonas Smithson comment, I’d just like to explain that the Examiner’s code sometimes does not validate because of advertising code that doesn’t comform to standards. It’s something I try to fix, but that’s not always possible. I think until the whole web community adopts standards, it will be very difficult for large, complex sites to perfectly maintain XHTML validation.

Jim Ramsey

February 16, 2005 10:01 AM

Unfortunately, the Examiner has signed on with Townnews for the hosting and production of their sites. This has destroyed the standards-compliance that was the subject of this article.

Josh Renaud

March 2, 2005 7:51 AM

Jim, can you explain what Townnews has changed that has destroyed compliance?

Bill Spaulding

August 20, 2005 10:23 AM

It’s amazing that major newspapers, with all of their money, can’t do better in design. Maybe one of us should apply for a job there!

Recruitment Advertising Agency London UK

September 27, 2005 3:21 AM

We are about to launch our new site in the next couple of weeks which is going to be fully CSS and will be
fully compliant with all the latest accessibility and web standards in the industry. Our site will (probably!) be the only fully accessible and compliant recruitment advertising site in the UK (this means we’ll be running a site that anyone can access on any device – very helpful to the disabled.

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