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Dual column layout, table/css/image map issues


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#1
my411

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I'm not a developer, but tasked with making sure my client's website is developed properly. (The developer and graphics designer were hired before I came to the project, work together regularly, and resist my presence.) The developer insists certain things can't be done, though they seem straightforward, are commonly used, and I've sent multiple examples of each.

All the requests were in initial specs, which he ignored and either didn't implement or expects more money to do so. For example, he calls the 2-level horizontal navigation "non-standard," and says it's impossible to insert anything but photos in the "non-standard" right column of the two-column layout.

The basic design is a horizontal 2-level menu/submenu; body is two-column layout with right column about 1/3 of total screen width. One section of the site (Properties pages) has a 3-column layout with a third-level vertical navigation. www.zackproperties.com

Developer created a table with rows for left and right columns within it; has an "overflow" in the right column. Placed photos into the right column OK, as well as "print page" and "email page" scripts (he's fond of .asp). Issues:

1) RIGHT COLUMN. Claims he can't put plain text or links into the right column (though he managed "click to enlarge" links under right-column photos on the Furnishings page). Says if client wants to place text such as customer testimonials in the right column (one of the design specs), she'll have to make each as a graphic rather than a simple HTML paragraph <p.../p> in the right column.

2) IMAGE MAP. On the LOCATIONS page, he used an image map with two sets of x,y coordinates, circles and rectangles. I requested numbered circles on the map and apartment names as links in the right column, each with a single line of descriptive text. He included the apartment names as part of the image map, with corresponding rectangular coordinates in his map code. Seems he could remove the rectangular coordinates from the image map and create HTML paragraphs/links in the right column.

Comments out the sub-menu (BREMERTON/SILVERDALE; we'll add more cities later) as "extra navigation."
- Makes the submenu the same Level2 class as the main menu.
- Level 1 is global nav: about, contact, etc.
- Level 4 is the left-side nav on the Properties pages reached from Locations.
- There is no Level3 nav; seems to me that's what the submenu should be.

The PROPERTIES pages aren't getting indexed by search engines because they're in the image map; the ALT tags he included won't do the job. (I'm still pushing to get him to enter the META title and description tags I provided for all the pages.)

3) NAVIGATION. When the submenu is open, it and the main menu should be in white text, not yellow, for active page "you are here" context. (Example: AMENITIES> FURNISHINGS.) He claims it's not possible, despite examples I've sent (such as Apple.com, where main and submenu turn blue). He says the white text can only show when hovering or clicking the link (i.e., link:hover and link:active) and not after the page is selected. (I've also shown him several examples where the user can click a main menu item to display its submenu, yet stay on the current page until after selecting a submenu item. He says that can't be done in the "non-standard design" I requested.)

This is only for starters! He works at Microsoft on enterprise-wide databases using .asp. Seems to have one cookie-cutter mode using frames and .asp scripts. (He first developed this site in frames that took 50% of the vertical screen real estate, saying "the design called for it," when the specs were emphatic about no frames.)

Anything outside of his already-developed frames templates and .asp scripts "can't be done" or he wants hugely increased fees. Example: I tried to convince the client to get an XHTML/CSS developer, that .asp was overkill for this simple site. The developer said he could do it in CSS but demanded an 80% fee increase because he "would have to develop a template for each page." (Then I had to show the client why this statement showed his lack of CSS awareness.) He also said he would develop in XHTML 1.0 Transitional; when I pointed out he had a DOCTYPE declaration of HTML 4.01 and a namespace xml declaration, he removed the namespace and said "the XHTML pages kept collapsing and couldn't be used."

Hope you can help. I'm not a developer, and the client thinks because the developer works at Microsoft he "knows so much" and (by implication) I must not know what I'm talking about. :-( ...Thanks.
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#2
Major Payne

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You're right. It is a simple enough site. Using CSS2 and XHTML would be more than enough.

Other factors depends on whether this will be a turnkey site or one that will be updated on a frequent basis. Possible use of SSI's would be warranted if supported.

Requested fees by one at Microsoft shows a Microsoft mentality anyway: Why not not charge more because we can get it. :whistling:

Hope I don't have to retract that staement. :blink:

I love to use the KISS method in design. Are you just asking for support or help with design? I'm not too keen on asp and use php if I absolutely have to. Just a matter of preference.

Most of what you say about site is possible. Think someone just wants more money.

Ron
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#3
my411

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Thanks, Ron. The $$$ factor was my guess, too. He underbid the job, figuring to dish out the same frames stuff used on craftarchitects.com and his own site. Ignored the specs for 5 weeks, then started wanting more $$$ for the "non-standard" stuff.

<<Are you just asking for support or help with design?>>

Both. :-) I appreciate the support; though not a developer, knew I wasn't crazy or unreasonable.

Could also use design comments if that's not imposing too greatly. Not that I expect the developer to follow through; I'd like to show the client it's all about the money, not the technological difficulty of "my" requirements (funny how they've morphed from being the client's requirements). I've been encouraging her to stand tight and get what she needs without paying more money to cover his ignorance, mistakes, hubris or blackmail.

The main site updates will be adding new properties (using the current standard format for those pages) and new cities (in the submenu under the Locations main menu tab, where now only 1 city resides). Nothing that requires SSI's except a lone contact form that could have been a PHP script; didn't need to do the entire site in .asp despite the developer's proud claim that he got rid of the frames through "a single SSI change." Big deal; could have done the same if he'd used CSS. Or -- what a concept -- followed the specs for no frames.

Latest email just in: he can't understand my comments re the image map links from Locations to Properties pages not being spidered, because he added ALT text! This from a guy who claims search engine optimization as a service on his website. Also said my request for a sitemap is "stupid," though it's Googles second-most important factor after the META title tage. And the request for standards validation "has no business value." Wonder how he'll do after IE7 comes out?

Now he's saying there "must have been a misunderstanding" about not being able to put text or links in the right column, which client twice told me he couldn't do. (Big joke: I was nominally the "project manager," but only allowed to communicate through his buddy, the graphics designer, who was equally bent on doing things their way. Finally told the client it's unworkable, and got out of that communications loop.)


Thanks again...Pat
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#4
Major Payne

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Hi Pat:

I understand your problems. When I worked for Piper aircraft in the design engineering department, I often had to argue points about changes to the avionics packages because they kept ignoring my Engineering Orders submitted. Seems they weren't looking at the overall weight and balance requirements of the aircraft or wanted to place avionics equipment in places it shouldn't be placed.

If you wish, sent me an email with an itemized list of what you would like to see done and the page names where the changes are to be done. Will drop it into my editor and see what comes out. Don't promise anything as I am currently working on two sites with a third waiting.

All sites should have a site map link as it is a very useful link. How the site map is presented is important too. A search this site should be there provided keywords are kept updated. Layouts are a matter of opinions just like the SEOs.

Are you interested in a three column CSS2 layout?

Ron
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#5
my411

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Ron, thanks for your offline assistance. This is to publicly acknowledge your helpfulness -- and your awesome CSS layout and positioning on the example sites you provided.

Many thanks, Pat
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#6
Major Payne

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Hi Pat:

Thank you. Just wanted to let you know that I haven't totally forgotten the last few questions you emailed me.
I am currently working on two sites right now and it may be some time before I can get to those.

Feel free to email me anytime.

Ron
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