Elements or Lower

Fri, 09 Jul 2004

Maybe the Access Version becomes the Print Version?

I’m itching to start work on the CSS version of the Woking site. The list of things to do this month is overwhelming, however, and the CSS version frankly isn’t a priority. It’s just something I really want to do.

That isn’t to say that the site doesn’t already use CSS extensively, however. It does, in the way that most sites from the past few years do: to adjust fonts, colours, background images and so on. What the CSS doesn’t do is the layout and presentational chrome, and I want it to.

As I’ve already written, my feeling is that this will give the regular version of the site an accessibility boost, to the extent that the “Easy Access” version I developed might struggle to find its place in the world. The discussion (some of it over email) ensuing from my previous post on the topic of access versions reassured me that what we’ve done isn’t so much segregation as simply offering layout alternatives — a “design-lite” version, if you will.

Well, Cameron Adams has written on the topic of print versions of pages. His point is that, whilst a CSS-driven presentation of a site can offer a wholly different version simply and transparently through the use of a print stylesheet, people don’t expect (or like) the printed page to look wholly different from what they see on screen — it’s disconcerting.

I really think he’s got a point, and it pleases me no end. The link on each page to its “Easy Access” version is already labelled “fewer graphics, and better for printing” — the notion that the Access version doubles-up as a print version is already very much there. The CSS-based redesign of the site might simply re-prioritise the Easy Access version as a print version (from which you can continue to browse the site, if you prefer).

Itching, I tells yer, itching.