I’m going to have a moan about HTML code so I can’t blame anyone for not reading much further than this overly long initial sentence.
I’m presently updating the Talking Newspaper website, with input from the publicity person, Mike. For one thing, it’s a tad outdated; for another, it’s badly coded. I say ‘badly’ simply to be polite. Atrocious is probably closer to the mark. Let me explain.
Because of the nature of charity groups like FATN, a lot of people have a bit of a go at amending websites. These people can range from very adept to miserably inadequate when it comes to creating HTML. This isn’t their fault (in either case) and I’m not going to complain about people who just want to help.
The trouble with a lot of disparate people changing and amending code on a website, is that they all do things differently and this is instantly reflected on the site.
For instance, today I was fixing up one of the website pages and it was just dire. It was coded differently to any of the other pages I’d already fixed up and, therefore, required a wholesale rethink in strategy. This creates a time vacuum.
As a website is changed, it stands to reason that once you change the first page, the others should be easier to fix because you know the pitfalls and the problems previously encountered. You work out a strategy to delete, replace, copy and paste, etc with maximum efficiency. This goes out the window when each page is coded differently.
What this means, in time terms, is that a page that resembles the first page should take very little time to fix because, effectively, the coder has done it before. However, you then encounter a page that, although it looks thematically identical when viewed in a browser, is written completely differently.
In real terms, this meant that a page I recoded this morning took me 90 minutes to change while the previous page took me 15. Multiply that by the amount of pages on a website and it suddenly becomes extremely time consuming…and frustrating.
One of the main problems with the FATN site is that it was initially coded for the Internet Explorer browser way back when it was still popular. I think I’ve posted before that it doesn’t work very well in either Firefox or Chrome and, part of my fixes is to create effective dropdowns across all three browsers. This means that every time I fix a page, I have to test it across all three browsers every time I make a change. It’s extremely irritating when it doesn’t work in IE but does in the other two.
It feels like I’m back at work! Still, I shouldn’t complain too much. It does mean I’m keeping up with a rapidly changing technology (who knew there was a CSS3?) that could easily get away if not grabbed and hog tied to a laptop window.
And then, Mike and I received an email from the technical manager saying we may as well start all over again, redesigning the entire website from the bottom up. Now, this would be the perfect idea if we were being paid and had nothing else to do with our lives but, in the end, it’s still quicker to change the code in the existing design.
To top off the email, he included a link to a suggested website from which we might take inspiration. My response (to Mike) was the single word ‘YUCK’ with a number of exclamation marks. Mike’s response was ‘Double yuck!!!!’.
For future reference, this is the suggested website: Sandbach. And this is what we’re trying to do: FATN*. I don’t think there’s a competition…but I might be a tad biased.
* Update. Mike and my redesign was not accepted by the committee and they have since redesigned it again. Unfortunately this also included a new url so the original link to our redesigned FATN is no longer accessible.