Look into the future of CSS Naked Day event

I was debating over the CSS Naked Day, and whether if I should blend with the masses on such a unique day on the Web. Upon considering the idea in terms of its future, I decided not to for the reasons of being an empty hype.

I would like to give out my reasoning behind this decision (not that it really matters), however before doing so it would be note worthy to start off with a comment I came across by a fellow #CSS operator named trovster, on Dustin's CSS Naked Day, with respect to usability issues. Here it goes:

If I visit a website and the navigation changes or moves even slightly, it's confusing (and I'm a web developer so I'm used to a huge range of website designs)... just imagine the confused look on peoples faces when they visit a website expecting that familiar design, only to be presented with the defaults.

It can be confusing - only for a day - for the user, however most of the site owners have taken the initiative to make it clear at the top of their content on why there is no stylesheet applied to their document. Having said that, majority of these sites; including Dustin himself, have neglected to offer an option to turn the stylesheet back on.

The standards community that supports this day, has a more or less (generalization) focused target audience. In that sense, it is not a big concern as the greater percentage of their readers are aware of these - naked day hype around the community, semantic markup - things and are capable of managing their way around the site.

This day is great for traffic since many sites are promoting their existence collaboratively. However, the promotion for the day only leads to unnecessary content, which then points back to the originator. Did we just lose a day of main content across the board or gain a lot of comments? Who will bookmark and return back to the list of claimed member's site on such lists?

One has to raise questions for such day / movement, since it had an impressive impact all around the community. Therefore, I would like to pose the following; what percentage of CSS Naked Day follower's readers reached an awe and convinced for semantic markup, as well as what percentage of the same group got confused and lost interest?

The declared day is a misleading promotion of semantic markup in my opinion. As suggested by many, this could have been accomplished by other means. Therefore I would like to push this forward, since I am just a curious guy; why do not most of these sites offer an option to remove the stylesheet on a day to day basis to begin with?

Going forward, we have to wonder how successful this day will be in the future. If we were to assume that most site owners are moving towards standards-complaint / semantic markup documents over time, what does this day has to offer other then a reminder of a day of fun? Needless to say, this day is preaching to the choir and falls short of being useful, and if anything it diminishes progress in terms of available new content - in my 'perhaps not so' humble opinion.

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Dustin Diaz replied on

You point out some interesting things and I must say that you have been the most diplomatic in regards to verbalizing some of your concerns as opposed to those who just say "This idea is dumb." Props to you for that.

Is it preaching to the choir? Not exactly. There are still a large amount of developers who will see this kind of stuff and will hopefully change some of their existing practices.

Re: Have we lost a day of content? It depends on how you look at content. There's nothing wrong with stepping back for a day and re-evaluating the way you develop websites. Surely there's a billion articles on how to write good markup, but this event takes a different approach and communicates in a very different manner.

Re: Future of Naked Day, I don't know. I can honestly say that hopefully in a few years it will be non-existent. The idea was to promote semantics and proper hierarchy structures, but the fact of the matter is, people still don't do that well... even most of those who have participated aren't doing it to a level that is exceptional.

I indeed agree on this: "If we were to assume that most site owners are moving towards standards-complaint / semantic markup documents over time, what does this day has to offer other then a reminder of a day of fun?" - I hope you're right. In the end, that's the goal and I think that you and I both know what this is all about.

Ciao, Dustin

Ara Pehlivanian replied on

I took part in the CSS Naked day on the 5th and though I loved the idea of running w/o CSS on my own site, I do have to admit that I myself reacted strangely when I visited a familiar site and saw a non-styled page. It made me wonder if the page was broken! :-)

If anything I think that the day was a very good exercise and learning experience. On one hand it taught me the importance of consistency when it comes to your audience's expectations and experience on your site. On the other hand, it taught me that not all sites are created equally. Just because you don't use tables doesn't necessarily mean you're semantic. Standards and semantics are two entirely different things.

Adam replied on

I may be the only other one that agrees with Sarven, but I happen to agree totally, and he made some points that I never thought of when I first saw the idea (1 hour before the end of April 5, as the result of this HEDir thread) and some that I had.

Anyway, he's absolutely right. Removing the CSS from a site does nothing to establish the usability of a website, nor does it really establish good code. Its only purpose is to see how a site would look without it, and Firefox has a built-in option for just that purpose.

The trovster point is also quite valid: if you start screwing with a website, and other regular users see it, then they're going to get frustrated and go somewhere else. And that's just as much about usability as any code itself will ever be.

Coincidentally, I received a rather large traffic spike to a website that I built yesterday that had nothing to do with participating in this day (because, after all, I didn't) that came at least partly as the result of a PR/backlink update in Google. What would have happened had I participated? I would have turned off every new visitor to my site. And that was more uniques in a day than most people get in a 3-year period.

I personally don't see any developers changing their ways because they see a bunch of sites with CSS removed. It doesn't give them reasons why they should switch. It just shows them being "naked". While it's a fun idea for some, it becomes a big "so what?" in the end.

As Sarven said, this is a "preaching to the choir" concept to a narrowcasted target audience.

It's a great linkbait, Dustin, don't get me wrong. You're going to end up with far more backlinks in a day than most people could ever achieve in a lifetime. And for that, big up. But to me, it's nothing more than that.

Anyway, Sarven, thank you for saying what I was thinking. I think I'm going to have to bookmark this blog and start reading it some more.

trovster replied on

Instead of me duplicating what I said in other places, I'll just link to them here.

@ Adam: The linkbait and backlinks is the thing I'm wondering about. I need to come up with a brilliant marketting idea for my site... hmmm

The semantics the 'day' showed up whether developers were using tables-for-layout, divitis or semantic HTML. However, it didn't show whether developers were using the correct ID or Classnames, the next issue after learning about ol, ul, h3 etc.

Robert’s photoRobert replied on

I just realized this was a year-old post, but I'll continue anyway. Consider it about the 2007 CSS Naked Day.

As Dustin pointed out, it was really about people becoming aware of their own flaws. It's sort of like going to a nudist colony to realize you are much more flabby than you thought. Now, you can do one of two things.

You can say, "man, I'm flabby. I'll work out." Or you can say, "Everyone else is as flabby as I am. Whew." Hopefully, it's the former. For me it was.

I had a fairly decent template. It made sense visually without stylesheets. However, I realized that it was far, far from perfect. It was because of CSS Naked Day that I really got into semantic markup. I ended rewriting my entire site after CSS Naked Day, as well as going back through old posts and trying to make them more semantic, as well. All told, I spent over a month updating my site to make it more standards compliant, more semantic, and more accessible.

Am I participating this year (2007)? You bet I am. I busted ass to make my site as close to ideal as possible. I love the idea of CSS Naked Day, and I really feel that joining in will increase awareness amongst the community, even if it freaks users out.

And for the record, I have a built-in option to turn off stylesheets on my website now as a result of my appreciation for CSS Naked Day (and built it in before I read this post).

Taylor Satula’s photoTaylor Satula replied on

Hey Everyone, On a related note Dustin Diaz seems to have ended his work on CSS Naked Day so I have taken over the job. I will be running it for the foreseeable future.

Please update links. http://naked.threepixeldrift.com/

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