As has been reported in a bunch of places, Microsoft’s home page has been redesigned and uses standards-oriented design principles, eschewing tables and spacer GIFs for CSS-driven layout. The weight of their home page’s HTML document dropped by almost three-quarters—it’s 27.5% the size of the IE-specific version of the previous design, and 30.5% the size of the non-IE version. It still uses a few tables for layout (about one-sixth what it did before) and throws some validation errors, but not in overwhelming numbers. It seems that they’ve even dropped browser sniffing, and are serving the same document to everyone. Doug has more details, for those who are curious.
I think this is absolutely incredible, and to be applauded. The Web Standards Project should already have given them a round of applause, in my opinion, and hopefully will do so very soon. It may seem like odd timing given the recent launch of the WaSP’s Browse Happy campaign, but the Web site and the browser are two very different things. There’s no contradiction in discouraging use of the latter while applauding the improvements of the former.
In my rounds of the posts and comments about this redesign, I saw a couple of people say things to the effect of “this is nothing important, the markup is still crap, and MS shouldn’t be praised simply for producing less crap than before”. Um… yes they should. As far as I’m concerned, any company or other organization that makes a standards-oriented move deserves praise for their efforts. We might discuss what else they can do to improve further, but to slam someone who’s doing the right thing for not immediately achieving utter perfection (for whatever value of perfection happens to be in vogue at the time) seems like the most counterproductive act I can envision. Well, besides launching DDoS attacks. This is a time to encourage them to continue, not give them ample reason to reverse course.
Analogy: if your significant other voluntarily cleans up after dinner, but misses a couple of the dirty dishes, which is more likely to get the job done?
- Yell at them for not doing a complete job and storm off.
- Thank them for doing the dishes, and gently point out that they missed a couple. Offer to do them yourself.
I bet the second one works in most cases. In fact, we could offer to do the “missed dishes” by figuring out fixes for the remaining errors, and offering them for use.
I wish I could say I’d had something to do with their redesign through Complex Spiral Consulting, but I didn’t. Doug probably wishes he could say something similar with regards to Stopdesign, but from what I can tell he wasn’t involved either. Mike Davidson is in their area, but since he hasn’t said anything yet I’m guessing that he’s also an observer. The initial impression is that this was an internally-driven effort, one that has paid off in bandwidth savings, efficient coding, and more.
So I’m taking this opportunity to salute the efforts of the microsoft.com team. Well done!