Are websites more difficult today?
I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.
At the start of the Internet era (~1996), web designers charged lots of money for websites. Some businesses made a success of their website and some did not. Hey, it was all new. Therefore, prices were high and websites were perceived as difficult/technical.
Websites for everyone
Subsequently, there was another period where websites became ‘everyman’. In this era, a lot of websites were put together by Joe Soap with a copy of FrontPage or another cheap website design package. This was the era when people thought that a website was just ‘another type of Word document’ that happened to be viewable by other people. The ubiquity of website design software and the common use of word processor-style WYSIWYG interfaces perpetuated this myth.
Websites are more difficult these days?
Today, are things slowly turning full circle again? For people (read, business owners) who want a website, there are lots of options ranging from learning Dreamweaver to hiring a web designer to getting to grips with a Content Management System (CMS) or blog software. In fact, almost too many options for the average business owner. In a lot of cases the wrong option is taken or there is not enough consideration of the alternatives. In many cases, the ‘quick solution’ often takes precedence.
Furthermore, the use of CSS and a more web standards-based approach is slowly increasing. In some ways, this is more difficult for people to learn. Most people have used and understand tables as a layout tool – but it can be difficult to understand CSS and table-less layouts. This means that anyone who wants their website to fulfil certain accessibility standards may not be able to ‘do it themselves’ anymore.
It’s also important to say that a ‘low level basic’ website should still fulfil certain standards, particularly because web users are becoming more sophisticated these days (see this post).
One possible answer is to use a standards-compliant CMS or blog software. In our experience with small business owners in Sussex, this is not a concept that is widely understood. It’s still perceived as ‘technical’. Additionally, some blog or CMS software does take time to learn. Unless the small business is prepared to use a template approach, even modern day blog/CMS software may require an understanding of CSS.
TIP: CMS software – Open Source CMS compares many CMS software packages.
So, back to the original question. Are websites more difficult today? For the average person or business owner who wants to ‘do it themselves’, perhaps Yes.
On the other hand, the advent of CSS, web design software like Dreamweaver with its enhanced productivity tools, and website software like TextPattern, means that for the web developer/designer the answer may be different (?)