I’ve been coding sites for a few years now and I was happy coding everything by hand, until I discovered grids and frameworks. They enabled me to really get outside my typical style of layouts and approach web design in a totally new way. I absolutely love them and I’m really impressed with the ability to layout content so easily. Most importantly, their cross-browser compatibility was really hard to look past, especially the YUI grids, which I’ve designed a few sites around, even my personal site for my web company. Yet, I feel ‘dirty’ for doing that, since I understand they are bloated in terms of code…and I personally really love knowing that I coded something myself and didn’t need to rely on someone else’s work.
On the other hand, I often feel that I do not need to ‘re-invent the wheel’ when it comes to writing CSS layouts, when someone who knows more than me and has spent more time refining the technology and it’s uses.
So, my dilemma continues. I really enjoy the benefits of these frameworks, but I also really love knowing that the code is efficient and original. I remember when there was a poll here on CSS-Tricks that showed that the majority of people did not use any kind of framework. This troubled me, because I really would prefer to write my own, but I’m not sure how to write such beautiful layouts that the frameworks offer.
What would you guys suggest for someone like me, who wants to learn how to design sites using grid/column structure without using any kind of framework? Any tutorials that I can read or even books that I might need to check out? I feel I understand enough about XHTML/CSS to take my skills to the next level but I am a bit lost on how to go about going that.
Thanks for the input. I also do the same, I code everything in Photoshop/Illustrator first, then split and hackup the design (no tables) and begin coding. I don’t design the sites around the frameworks by any means, but the frameworks just seem to fit the designs the best when it comes to actually making the design into a functional page. If anything, the YUI grids for example, allow me to easily design a very loose framework using just the basic grid layout, but then allows me to position the subsequent content anywhere within a bullet-proof structure.
As far as coding a site by hand that uses a framework, that’s my real issue…I’m not sure how, especially when I want to use columns such as on my own site: http://www.illuminateddesigns.net. For example; every time I’ve attempted it, my columns get screwy when content is not equal or the browser issues stem the process to the point where the frameworks just seem to make sense to use, rather than re-doing work that someone else did better than me. Then I begin to worry that my hand-coded CSS layout is even more bloated or un-standardized than the frameworks are, and I’m back to square one. :(