I'm Not Naked

Today is CSS Naked Day—dubbed as day used to promote Web Standards by hiding the CSS style information from your site and letting the underlying markup and semantic content shine through.

As you can see (unless you’re reading this via a feed reader) I’m not one of the people participating.

I chose not to join the 500+ sites getting naked because I don’t feel that presenting pages that look like they were built in 19951 is necessarily the best way to reinforce the strengths that standards offer. At least not to my audience—who when they aren’t members of the choir would probably tend to ask questions like “so what”?

More then celebrating clean, well structured (and valid) markup, the sites I’ve come across today tend to reinforce by absence the value of good design and presentation and that markup is only one piece of the pie that we should be celebrating.

When visiting the style-less pages I certainly “get it” myself and chuckled when I hit a page I wasn’t expecting to be participating, but I find that after a few seconds I just want the fully working site back. Without visual clues that come from layout, color or font sizes or images HTML documents aren’t the easiest things to read or scan and find that item you came for—even the “best” of them. From my perspective this is perfectly ok because the flexibility that I see in pages that have a base in standards is broader then the ability to turn styles off in Firefox.

It is the portability of that foundation to different form factors (wireless browsers, print), the basis in good semantics that extend to non-visual contexts like screen readers (or search engines) sometimes with explicit CSS information and sometimes not. And lets not forget that from a coder’s perspective the other win is consistently in something that has nothing to do with users or publishing—but instead in the benefits to development and time savings.

Maybe next year someone should try and organize a “browse different” day where people are encouraged to browse sites with different font settings, or emulators of other devices and form factors to celebrate the flexibility in a system where standards are followed. Or perhaps a “browse blind” day where the accessibility of good markup can shine through in ways the browsers default style sheet just doesn’t do.

1 That said, I’ve more then once mentioned that making a page that looks like it was built in 1995 is a good goal to keep in mind—during development.

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