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Revamped site cuts grand design down to size

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The new definitive text-resize site is at www. rca. ac. uk, revamped for the Royal College of Art, possibly by Airside - you get a hint that this company might be the author but there does not seem to be a credit. Shame on mean-minded, or maybe envious, RCA panjandrums who get very grumpy when they are not credited for their work. Whatever, the site is the occasion for several Webwatch self-congratulations. Remember this is the premier, most precious, selfabsorbed, etc, of design institutions.

The text discussing the basics behind the new website design pronounces 'the visual identity of the site is subservient to the content as it is not as important'.

Don't get me wrong. Some of the most stunning sites break the basic rules about slow-loading, clever Java tricks, sound, big images, special effects and the like, because that's precisely what the sites are about - visual and sometimes visualplus-aural pleasures.These are sites whose owners don't particularly lose out if surfers decide mid-site that the topic of young persons with extensive surgery is more interest-grabbing. Promoters of professional websites do lose out because the function of their sites is to sell the practice to prospective clients.

The second item of special interest in the above explanation of the RCA site goes like this: 'The website allows visitors to adapt the appearance of the website using their own toolbar at the bottom of the screen.'And so, by all the powers above, it really does. There are eight little boxy buttons at the bottom-right of the page, including a print button.

You can decrease and increase text size and line spacing, change everything to a serif face or, should the inexplicable fancy take you, change everything to block capitals.And, for dyslexic readers, you can increase the contrast.

You are probably asking whether this doesn't screw up the so-carefully designed appearance of the site.

Obviously not - they designed it to cope with user changes. I have to say though, that it's not exactly rocket science.

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