Not up to standard

I was looking for a new computer table for my studio. I Googled for pages in Singapore, but saw an intriguing-looking article by the Computer Times (now called Digital Life) on creating web pages.
Dated February 2004, I was surprised and slightly perturbed at the statement, “When building a website, keep in mind that everything is formatted in table form.” (Oops. My own website doesn’t use tables. How??) Fortunately he does warn against using too many nested tables.
However, I was encouraged to read the first sentence on CSS: “Think of CSS as a master template.” However, I soon realised that IRAS aren’t the only ones who have a limited concept of stylesheets. The writer advises readers to use stylesheets to change text formatting and link hover effects. Which is true, but there’s so much more you can do with it. This is ‘pre-elementary’ (and unfortunately most agencies in Singapore only seem to know how to do this*).
And let’s not get into the advice on image rollovers and javascript tickers. That is so 1990’s.
Of course this is a beginner’s article and most beginners would probably start off by using tables and whatever HTML editor gives them the visual effects they want. And no journalist is necessarily an expert in their field of work. Further research is difficult especially with tight deadlines. But it’s slightly annoying to read something that’s already out of date the moment it was written.
And what about usability? Browser compliance? Accessibility? Well-written web content? I’d think these would be more important than any fanciful effects on a web page.
Maybe one day, someone should write an article on how the rest of the developed world has been catching on to new coding techniques and approaches, while most of commercial and public Singapore is still left behind.
*If you know of any agencies with a semblance of familiarity with web standards, stylesheets, accessibility and usability, please let me know … I’m dying to meet them.


  1. Ivan is one of the Singaporean web designers that I know of, who uses web standards. =D
    It’s not just Singapore, you won’t believe how disappointed I am when I see the past work of the firm I’m working in. I mean, it’s *still* okay to use tables and all, but to use MARQUEE that’s just unacceptable. Heh.

  2. vantan

    Yes, sodesires and I and several other Singaporeans are part of the local Web Standards community. I’m looking out for larger companies and not individuals/sole proprietors, who can handle big projects.

    It is very frustrating indeed because I know that (as with IRAS) there are some things out of our control e.g. security layers, but as far as we can we should:

    1. use tidy code
    2. design sites in a way that it is very easy to update
    3. make our websites as accessible to everyone (e.g. for the elderly, visually disabled or people on non-Windows platforms and browsers).

    What I dislike is being told by vendors that ‘it can’t be done’ or it’ll cost a lot and take a long time to redo. Because I know sometimes it’s rubbish. If their designers knew how to do it properly in the first place, things would be much neater and easier to update. Pah.

  3. Andrew

    Perhaps you should consider writing in to IRAS on how they can improve, rather than keep slamming them? Hey, its an imperfect world… my 0.02 cents worth…

  4. Andrew

    chill… but then again, i did go to the site, but i don’t see anything about feedbacks 😉 it was just a suggestion… anyway, like they all say… u pay peanuts, u get monkeys… =)

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