A suggestion that often comes up to fix a site that isn't looking perfect in every situation is: “why not go the graphic designer route and make the site all images?” After all, with a bunch of images, you can control the fonts and layout (color is still a problem). There are several reasons why this is a bad idea:
- File size and download time. With a site that is 100% graphics, yes, the HTML file size would be small, and even if you create very tiny web page graphics, it will take forever to load because for every image on the page, there is a server request which adds to the load time.
- Maintenance. If you find a typo, you have to find the original image, change to the type layer, edit it, resave the image and original and reupload. With text, you'd just edit the text and upload the HTML file and you're done.
- Cost. Graphic designers often cost $100 per hour or more, while you can hire an intern to maintain your site for around $20.
- Accessibility. Images are inaccessible without alt text, and unless you're planning on reproducing your entire site contents in one giant alt attribute, your site will be completely blank to most screen readers.
- Search Engine Optimization. For many of the same reasons as accessibility, if your site is a giant image, search engines will not spider it, or won't spider it very well.
- Links. Sure you could use image maps, but that's just a pain.
Just Relax and Design Your Page to Look as Good as You Can
If you're a web designer, you need to learn to relax. The goal of a great web design should not be to look identical on every screen that views it. The goal of a great web design is to look good on every screen that views it. If your design looks good on a really old browser and is usable to those customers, it doesn't matter if it looks completely different in the more modern browser versions. Graded Browser Support is a way of looking at the browsers you want to support and then gracefully degrading the pages for the ones you don't.
Design for Your Audience and Your Boss or Client
The two things you should focus on in your designs is getting the web pages to look as close to perfect as you can for your client or boss and getting it to work well for the customers viewing the sites. But remember that none of these people will be viewing the pages in any browser but their own.
In other words, if your client uses IE 8, they aren't going to notice if the margins are bigger in Firefox. If your boss loves Safari, they won't have any idea that Internet Explorer doesn't have rounded corners. And that's okay. Margins and rounded corners are important, but they aren't the point of the page. Conversions, sales, and page views are. Keep that in mind when you get worried that the BrowserLab onionskins don't line up perfectly in different browsers.
Just relax and go with the flow. Your web designs can be flexible and still be beautiful. Tell the print designers and graphic artists to stick to their knitting and you'll stick to yours and your web designs will be just that—web designs.