Freedom through constraint

10. okt 2001 The postman is somewhat special. He brings all sorts of things. Postcards from Jamaica. Bills, too, unfortunately, but it’s not his fault, after all.

10. okt 2001// web //

home.pages - preface - june 1997
The postman is somewhat special. He brings all sorts of things. Postcards from Jamaica. Bills, too, unfortunately, but it’s not his fault, after all. He also brings software as mailorder. You can pay with creditcard, even cash and get change. Or, if you’re not at home, he leaves a note, so you can get the stuff at the postoffice. And then he’s able to tell – you don’t even need to push his buttons – how much postage for a letter for Bhutan. It’s all very interactive.
But after all, you probably never took him for a medium, neither spiritual nor physically.
Neither is the Internet a medium. Like the postal services it’s a worldwide transmission net, and the major advantage is a huge amount of data connected digitally. That gives the opportunity to link references and to seek and find new information that is immediately accessible.
The data are not better quality on the Internet. On the contrary: Images and sounds are often bad, and the text is hardly legible. Actually we would rather distribute the digital advantage as hardcopy!
The medium is the web pages placed all over the world on computers, that you acces via the Internet. In contradiction to the mail that is brought to your adress, you literally have to go and get the web pages yourself. And the kilos slow you down, the heavier stuff, the slower you go. So slow that you maybe drop the newspaper on your way home. Well, that’s a restriction – for the publisher. And it’s a challenge.


The transmission time is no new phenomenon. It takes some time to get the magazine from the printer to the readers. You have to think of the weight, too, because of the postage rates. But the time was not under your influence.
On the Internet the transmission is dreadfully visible, and the transmission time is highly related to the weight – how many kilobytes takes the web page. To the designer this is quite a new aspect. One page in a magazine may take 50 megabytes. As a web page the same content shouldn’t exceed 50 kilobytes, and that’s quite a drastic reduction in the size of the digital data.
The challenge is to keep the size below the acceptable limit for web transmission. That’s the constraint the designer have to live with. He may build in a functionality that can’t be done in a magazine, with links, animation, sound and someday even video, multimedia-action... It offers a creative freedom that counts several kilobytes.
The design on the other hand, has the same purpose as ever, that is to make the information comprehensible. To help and be a part of the communication.

The less that is necessary

Web pages should contain everything that is necessary to communicate. But what seems to add value at a first sight may as well do the opposite, because the speed of the transmission is slowed out of existence. The big job is to define the necessarity. So why not evade that and construct the web site in a way that gives the user the choice of sparing the bytes, without giving the feeling of missing the point.
You can’t remove enough bytes from the quality of the printed matter and get a well performanced corresponding web site. You’ll rather end up being disappointed about the lack of possibilities and regret the reduced image quality.
You’ll better start from nothing, zero bytes, and then consider the less that is necessary to communicate. You’ll often find it easier to accept to add some extra kilobytes than to take the megabytes out of the paper images. The extra kilobytes may be a visible improvement, the latter can be a disastrous downer.
Web design is structurally far from the magazine or a leaflet. The graphical ideom may be the same, but the tools are different. And you’ll be better of arguing with communication purposes than with any subtle design.

Not just usability

When designing a magazine or a newspaper you make demands to the reader. This is a non-selling truth: She have to act as a reader, otherwise nothing matters. You rely on some kind of seriousity.
When designing a web site you also rely in the users setup, the browser she uses and her modem. But you might consider a more aggressiv approach and make demands to the users technically qualifications. You can for instance decide that 28.8 modems are obsolete and that browsers below version 4 are to be considered as not serious regarding the present level of web communication. The tools of today have actually come a lot further than just to use plain text.
It has been the ambition of the Internet to make any knowledge available to anybody. To the puritan any design that make any demands, will be noise. But you may as well take the opposite stand, that the purely textbased information is reserved for the skillede readers. A wall-to-wall text web page is hard to read on screen. You’ll probably push the print button and get text pages that are just as illegible anyway.
By using the web features, that is frames, scripts, stylesheets etc., you can build web pages that are easy to read, nice to watch and at the same time (and maybe because of that) gives you no reason to print. And the internet will offer paperless communication for real.

More web sites for the danish authorities are using webfonts

5. DEC 2013 //
But far the most of them still don’t! Only 22 out of 122 web sites for the danish authorities. And the majority of those are prefering free fonts. On the other hand is the number more than doubled in a year, since November 2012 when the number was 9 out of 115.
The study is a snapshot that I took November 6, 2013 and covers the […]
It looks like a mail from the agriculture association, but it might as well be phishing

It looks like a mail from the agriculture association, but it might as well be phishing

If I buy something on, say,, the response mail should come from and all links within the mail should be to Anything else looks as a phishing attempt, and it might as well be.
iSticks and iSkins

iSticks and iSkins

13. DEC 2010 // ipad /mobilt web /offentligt rum
The danish boulevard newspaper, Ekstra Bladet, has decided to campaign for the freedom of speech – seen as the freedom of nudity. The danish MEP, Morten Messerschmidt is supporting by taking the discussion into the European Parliament.
Seven clicks towards Mobile First

Seven clicks towards Mobile First

The net is flooded with apps - for smartphones and tablets. But web sites are still better viewed on a computer, right? So the marketing department is happy and web design is business as usual. Maybe because apps and web sites are considered as two different things, rather than two versions of the same.
You may create coherence […]

Technical enthusiasm, please

1. SEP 2000 // web
Usability and accessibility on the net becomes more and more equal to unlimited choices and professionalizing of the user, who thus will be the responsible to be able to get the information from the websites.
You may say I am puritan. On the other hand, when I shuffle the web, I may too say that I have the right to be puritan. […]
Your website is (almost) an app

Your website is (almost) an app

14. DEC 2010 // reklame /ipad /web /mobilt web /mobilism /web apps
I must admit, it’s (still) cool to have my icon right there on the iPad screen. As an app, yes, but a website can also do the trick. And website based app may sometimes even be a better solution than a native app.

The user rules

1. MAJ 2000 // design /web
Usability and accessibilty on the web becomes synonymous with free choice and professionalizing of the user. Thus, she is more and less self responsible for being able to recieve the information of the websites.
The computer is putting still greater demands to the user, but despite of that it is easier to use today than ever. […]

Typesetting the net - font embedding

23. SEP 2000 // typografi /web
For a very low cost of 5-10 k fontembedding gives the possibility of getting typographic identity for a whole website – allthough with a litte trouble.
The frustration about missing typographic tools for web design might be well aknowledged. How do I make typography in a graphically sense for the web. Cascading stylesheets offers […]
Web design, home pages for starters

Web design, home pages for starters

1. SEP 2001 // design /web
To the puritan any design that make any demands, will be noise. But you may as well take the opposite stand, that the purely textbased information is reserved for the skillede readers.
Torben Wilhelmsen, Thomas Green and Geert Sander Published first time in 1997. The book was one the selected Books of the Year in 1998 in Denmark. […]