Stefan Baumgartner

Web ops, performance and front-end

It's all about the content!

11 October 2013 by @ddprrt | Posted in: Rant

You know parallel scrolling websites? The kind where big sunglasses assemble themselves, break through rocks and crash your browser? The kind everyone loves. Except developers. Today I found thereisnopagefold.com by Damien du Toit, who had his own opinion on the whole thing. Check it out.

It all burns down to one thing

Of course, while amusing myself, I got my "Nays". By stating "it's all about the content", Andreas Ostheimer reacted in that way:

No it's not. It's all about Marketing. No it's not. It's about a lot of things but NOT one single thing.

I'm very sorry for you, but here it's a clear "Yes, it is!". No matter from which side you access or co-create the web, everything burns down to delivering content.

If you are on the marketing side, your expertise is worthless if you don't think about the contents you are going to promote. If you are a designer, all your skills are used to find the best presentation for the content you want to deliver. If you don't get the message right, your sense of beauty won't help you. Colours, typeface, images and effects all have to fit the purpose of presenting the webpages content.

This also goes for developers: Before you apply any JavaScript magic make sure that the content you want to add behaviour to is there. Think about editors and users. Every tweet posted, every Instagram taken and every video on YouTube is content in its purest form. And just the rest is about presentation.

So "Content First" is not only a strategy for designers and conception staff, it is for every participant in a web project!If you don't pay attention to the "What", you won't find the right "How" to transport it.

Neglecting content makes all the efforts pointless. Content is the starting point, the solid ground, the base, the one thing everything burns down to.

And nobody knew that better than Damian in creating thereisnopagefold.com, on all the levels. He had a message to deliver, he had content he cared about, and he used the best way possible to present and undermine his point. By support people that are annoyed with parallax scrolling websites and annoy (?) people who love them. This is what he wanted to transport. I'm pretty sure that these are the reactions he wanted to have!

Agency porn vs. Progressive Enhancement

While I'm not a big fan of parallax scrolling webpages, I wouldn't say that I don't get the point why agencies are so fond of creating them and presenting content in that particular way. You can do awesome stuff and really strengthen certain points of your message. For instance, I love the recently launched Museum of Mario, who was created by the HTML5Hub in cooperation with IGN. This is a perfect example of how awesome this stuff can be. Tough I would've loved to get at least the text boxes readable without JavaScript. I'm all for pushing the boundaries of the web and creating awesome experiences!

But not by violating the basic principle of the web. The web is for everyone. Content has to be delivered to everyone. And you cannot know what literally everyone is going to use to access your web page.

So prepare for the unknown. Prepare by providing a solid base, the content, and make sure that at least the content is accessible! And just then enhance progressively to the platforms you (think you) can control.

A designer first is concerned about the message, then about its presentation, and only later about its behaviour. And developers can express this thought process in code. And they just have to.

Comments? Shoot me a tweet!