Life is not as self-evident as it should be

These days I spend most of my working life as a web designer, often while wearing a look of genuine bafflement that anyone will actually pay me to do anything that's so much fun. I specialise in CSS-based design and web standards – if that means anything to you – although inevitably my professional site fails to meet the standards I set myself when working on clients' sites. It looks pretty, but the code is antediluvian and it's accessible as a bramble thicket. So much to do, so little coding time!

It was a rambling, meandering route that took me here and most of what I know is self-taught, so I'm a voracious reader of anything that will teach me new stuff. Tips and tricks are great, but what I really crave are overviews and guides that give structure and shape to the whole issue of accessible web design.

All of which is a build-up to linking to one of the best I've read in a long time – read it if you build websites and either find yourself daunted by the prospect of re-learning everything you once knew to conform to web standards, or are being driven mad on the project from hell.

Lesson No. 9: In the real world, stylesheet hacks will get your project across the finish line

Yes, stylesheet hacks are mildly disrespectful to the intentions behind the underlying technology. Yes, stylesheet hacks introduce the possibility of nightmares in the wake of a major change…such as the one that will take place when Internet Explorer 7 is released. Yes, the whole subject is an uproar waiting to happen.

This writer takes an unambiguous attitude on the subject. Given a choice between making excuses to a client about why something looks lousy in their browser or just fixing it, the latter decision settles up a pending invoice with far less pain and delay. When used wisely and with the appropriate caveats, stylesheet hacks make life a lot easier!

It also refers to a Zeldman piece about the price of compromises that's worth a read – puts things in perspective a bit…

We hold most of these truths

The version [of the US Declaration of Independence] in Thomas Jefferson's own hand is fascinating not only because it's in Thomas Jefferson's own hand, but also because it contains passages that would have ended slavery at the birth of the American nation. But those passages had to be deleted before the Declaration could be signed by representatives of states where slavery was practiced.

Put another way, the client bought a document intended to liberate all humanity, but demanded changes that kept part of humanity in chains.

So the next time a client requests changes that make your work less beautiful, less usable, or less smart, remember that greater people than you have lost bigger battles over far more important matters.