Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

New Work: Sterling Export Website

Last week saw the launch of the new website for Sterling Export. It’s fully compliant, valid, accessible and designed by your truly.

Last week marked the launch of a new website I’ve been working on,, home of Sterling Export. The client was a referral, and this is their first website for their new business.

To begin with, is the smallest site I’ve ever done. There are only four (count ‘em) actual pages, and web trickery is limited to a simple Perl contact form, a few Javascript bits in the form itself and a CSS print-format page. Nothing fancy, but then again the project did not require any new-fangled DOM scripts or database calls.

The pages are valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional, my favorite DocType since it lets one tiny attribute slide: <br clear="all" />, which clears the floating divs and allows the whole thing to be neatly wrapped in a shell div. It’s probably not the cleanest way to accomplish the whole fixed-width centered thing, but it works perfectly in every browser I’ve tested and the one rogue tag doesn’t adversely affect the semantics of the content.

Every effort was made to control the presentation completely through CSS and let the content dictate correct markup through semantic headers, paragraphs and lists. I used my favorite image replacement technique to retain the <h1>’s value, as well as film-strip rollovers for the main navigation so I could use an unordered list.

I gave them several layout ideas to start, but we always came around to this one, the first idea, both for its use of warm, earthy tones as well as the large-format photography that showcased the product and the operation. I kept the typography classic and readable—standard Verdana and Georgia for the HTML and various forms of Garamond for the headers.

In all, it was a straightforward assignment, and I’m happy with the results. While I don’t usually feature my actual freelance work on this site, it’s such a nice break from the usual, über-corporate fare that I felt like trumpeting a small victory for web standards.

commentary + criticism


wrote the following on Tuesday March 1, 2005

Not bad. The only thing I’d like to point out is that it’s being served as text/html, when truly valid xhtml is served as application/xhtml+xml. The use of xhtml in this instance seems a bit overkill if you’re reaching for a core audience that would appear to appeal to the ‘business executive’ types, a lot of whom are not as adaptive to new technologies (or version numbers).

A great looking site, none the less. May I ask why you chose a fixed width layout over a 3 column fluid?


wrote the following on Tuesday March 1, 2005

Its not that I sold the client on the use of XHTML/CSS, its just that’s what I always use for all my sites, paid or otherwise. I chose a fixed width because there wasn’t enough content to have a fluid layout; it just looked fuller and more balanced when I forced a width.


wrote the following on Wednesday March 9, 2005

Nice work on the design.

One thing: your <br clear=”all” /> might not be as necessary as you think. Try this technique out:

Good stuff and works perfectly for me.