Let’s get something out of the way before you read this rant and roll your eyes halfway through. I don’t see myself as a web developer, and especially not a designer or front end developer. I have built websites for a living and I will continue to do so but I would never claim that “job title” because I simply feel like I’m not specialized enough.
That being said, one part of websites really gets under my skin. The title probably gave it away at this point. I hate working with images.
Did that grab your attention? Time for some nuance. I hate working with images and text, mostly in the context of a CMS.
I understand the value of images on a website. How they add color, catch people’s attention and point them in the right direction. Heck, I’ve got a website where I post nothing but my own pictures (which you should definitely check out, you can find it here) so I’m definitely not an image-racist.
Not all images are bad. There’s plenty of great images which play important roles on websites. You won’t find many on this particular blog, but that is because I am usually too much in a hurry to write the text (and end up being too lazy to find images).
It’s the smaller images that frustrate me. It is hard to explain, but I will try.
They come in all shapes and sizes, and that is the exact problem right there. You’re just given an image and you’ll just have to make it fit somehow. Why? Well, because the client wants images on that page and they chose that image.
And every single time, I fail to make those images fit in a way that pleases me. For context, I usually work inside CMS’es and the limitations of their text editors. Lately I have been using “work-arounds” to make images look somewhat nice on a page, which kind of works, but which is a lot of work and easy to destroy with one simple “edit article” click.
What am I supposed to do with an image like the one below, on a website where the content area is about 950px wide?
If you align it to the left, it’ll make the surrounding text look awkward. CMS text editors never make the text wrap around the image nicely. If you align it to the right, it’s just as bad. Center it and use it as a header, and it’s way too small. Center it and put it between paragraphs and it still looks awkward.
I ended up using a div for the image and another one for the text, so that the text wouldn’t wrap around the image. It looks kind of good. Almost great, even. Problem solved?
Yes, but also no. That div can easily be broken. It only looks good as long as nobody tries to edit the article. But I supposed that that’s true for everything you carefully design inside a CMS.
Which raises another question:
- Should we be designing anything using the CMS’es core functionality?
- If the answer to that question is no, why use a CMS like WordPress or Joomla at all?
I don’t know, man. I just hate small images and how they make me question everything.