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If you are looking to get into Web Design, then you need to have a basic understanding of the key elements. One of course being, Typography. Typography is the art behind type. At the end of the day, it is one of the key elements that make web pages both pleasant to see, as well as a suitable container of information. Within the Designer’s skill set, it is not only necessary, but imperative, to have a good understanding of Typography.
There are thousands of different ways that type can be arranged. Typography goes far beyond simply making text readable. How you integrate type with specific layouts, and colours, speaks volumes to your skill as a Web Designer. Looking at a good or bad web page, could come down to the Designer’s Typography skills alone.
Today, many people are interested in understanding CSS. Whether you aspire to get into programming, or web design for a digital agency, or you simply want to learn how to customize your own web pages, it is essential that you learn CSS. CSS often pairs with HTML, and is frequently taught at the beginning of many programming courses. Although it is a frequently debated topic of whether or not CSS and HTML qualify as programming that is a discussion to be fleshed out elsewhere. There is no doubt however, that learning CSS is advantageous for all programmers, and is certainly an in-demand skill to have for laymen as well.
Cascading Style Sheets
CSS (cascading style sheets) entails the art of displaying HTML aspects on the screen. If you decide to learn CSS, you will quickly discover that it saves an enormous amount of time. This is so, due to the fact that it allows the user to control many different layouts from various web pages. Within CSS files, many style sheets themselves exist. By toggling through various style sheets, one is able to manipulate the elements of different pages. In CSS, what are referred to as “Classes” as well as “ID’s” are frequently used to create blocks of code that can easily transition between single-use and numerous use. Essentially, you use CSS to determine and customize, all aspects of style within your web page. The design itself, and variations in display features, fall under the category of CSS.
If a visitor sticks around your website and reads your completely reads your content, it would be pretty safe to say they like what they see. When visitors read what you have to offer they are left wondering – what’s next? There’s different things that are offered such as other related posts or ads, but if someone has stayed around long enough to read the entire content, you need to recognize that this is the perfect time to ask for their email address. Your web designer needs to create a web design that promotes subscriptions.
E-newsletters are still an excellent way to connect with potential and current customers regularly. But collecting email addresses isn’t as easy as it might seem. Even those individuals that love what your site has to offer may become hesitant when you want their email address even when you are going to be providing an e-newsletter. Let us look at ways you can convert visitors to be subscribers.
Looking at web industry from a business angle, Ars Technica muses upon six big stories that stood out last year. Of those six, we’ll peg BitCoins as the story we’re most likely to look back on in a decade and wonder “what were they thinking?” Like Microsoft Bob, Pets.com, and the CueCat, BitCoins still have that cachet of “naive pre-web-bubble idea”. The article goes into several ways where BitCoin has had trouble already, which we predict is the shape of its doom, arrising like a Grim Reaper in the West.
Web Designer Depot has a post up about the gems you can find in creative commons images on Flickr. “Creative Commons” basically means “free to use” – sometimes technically for non-profit purposes, but really, does the 0.0005 of a penny you get from ad clicks count as “profit” anyway? While we’re at it, here’s a bunch more royalty-free image sources every web designer should have bookmarked:
You’ll notice that the latest “easy enough for a caveman!” web design product always draws the same discussion online: First somebody moans how this is really a toy, no good for professionals. Then somebody always counters (in a snide tone) “Well this isn’t for you elitist professionals, this is so mom and dad can design web pages for their cookie business!” Yeah… but we’ve been hearing this since 1998 with Microsoft’s FrontPage Express. You know how it goes: The easiest-to-learn tool (which always has the least features) soon becomes an industry standard, at which point its user base demands more features. Then it isn’t easy to use anymore, and somebody makes another alternative… the cycle repeats.
The money quote from the article: “WYSIWYG’s shouldn’t be a way to avoid learning code, they should be a way to teach it.” Yeah, but that only makes sense on non-Earth planets. If it were as simple as “learn to code“, we wouldn’t have invented any of these tools. Humans and code appear to be mostly incompatible.
Melbourne, Australia hosts the annual Laneway Music Festival, and they’ve got a website that’s been attracting attention in web-design circles. For those not in the know, Laneway is the premiere event for the Indie music scene, hosting such headline acts as The Hold Steady, Echo & The Bunnymen, Midnight Juggernauts, and too many more famous acts to list here.
The site attracts attention for its unusually clean design. One really odd quirk that we don’t like, though, is that it has to build a different page for each major city, forcing you to a landing page that makes you select a city – why? The content looks identical regardless which city you selected. You can also change the city from the drop-down menu after you get to the main page anyway, so that’s pointless all over again! Here, the festivals’ in Melbourne, we gave you the Melbourne link.
Why do web designers get so worked up over fonts? A decision on whether to use one font or another for a logo may embroil an entire office, waging cubicle-to-cubicle warfare (imagine stapler-cannons, binder-clip mortars, and waste-paper-basket helmets here) that shoots down an entire day’s productivity. A non-designer will look on all this and wonder what on earth gets into people.
Let’s try to explain the rationale behind the most-dreaded fonts and why designers feel that way. On top of all these, the thing that makes a font the least popular is when it’s been overused.
Comic Sans – The thing is, this font was only intended as a joke/ novelty font. Think “party invitations.” Instead, a whole generation of novice web users latched onto this font for dear life and use it for everything, be it funeral notices, dear John letters, or results coming back from an AIDS test. There are tombstones chiseled in Comic-Sans out there.
Vivaldi – If Comic Sans is in trouble for people who don’t take themselves seriously enough, Vivaldi is the font for people who take themselves too seriously. Vivaldi is appropriate for snooty French restaurants and symphony programs. Anything else just makes it scream “pretentious snob!”
Apple says Adobe is working to sabotage HTML5. Adobe says HTML5 is no threat to Flash. Everybody’s watching the fight, and we love the six-fingered tattooed fist in the image, guys!
While we’re all bickering, could we help by pointing out what Flash is?
In the first place, Flash is not an Adobe innovation. Flash was originally developed in 1992 by a company called Macromedia, when it created a browser plug-in originally for Netscape Navigator. Life went on this way for 13 years, all the way up until Adobe bought out Macromedia in 2005, in a hostile takeover which also acquired Dreamweaver. Since 2005, Flash has gone from being a relatively controversy-free plug-in to being a hotbed of drama and turmoil. Continue reading
It’s always nice when web designers share their tools of the trade, especially when it’s a mom-and-pop outfit.
This designer lists a lot of free and open source tools which they use to build a pretty impressive portfolio. Fancy IDE? Nah, Notepad++! And a freebie FavIcon generator. Open-source Firebug, the Firefox extension that turns Firefox into a power development tool. And of course, for graphics… Gimp.
People are always astonished when you say you use Gimp for production work. Bad press from Adobe and a legion of elitist Photoshop users have given people the false impression that Gimp can’t do anything, like it’s not even as functional as Microsoft Paint. No, Gimp is really all you need for basic web graphics. It’s just doomed to live in the shadow of everyone who doesn’t want a Gimp, but instead wants an open-source Photoshop.
The article does cover some good ground on the whole subject of interface – whoops – experience design, and is worth a look just for the thought it provokes. I like #4: It’s not “just about usability”. No, it actually has to do something worthwhile, is the point that needs emphasizing.
While I agree that experience design is important, and there are designs that are better than others, I have noticed in the past few years amongst the professionals with “nebulous titles” (see #9) is that they try to hard to justify their profession and end up over-thinking the whole thing. The best intentions and all that, you know. But have you ever seen something designed by a committee? Say, a government committee? Then you know what I’m talking about.
It’s good to be aware of the need to design the user experience, but at some point we also need to quit making up six-syllable words, get out of our academic ivory towers, and just say “It’s a button and a menu! Leave it alone!”
For everybody who doesn’t use Internet Explorer, CSS is the gift from the gods that made the web more beautiful. Galleries of CSS magic, then, basically boil down to “porn for web designers”.
While your day-to-day reality will more likely involve getting a shopping cart application to check credit card numbers correctly on a client’s ASP-powered site, you can always dream of a world where Microsoft is shelled into the ground and we can all use the modern, 21st-century web.
CSS Play – Stu Nicholls is nothing less than the wizard of CSS. Is there anything he can’t do with it? He can draw Christmas trees, make maze games, animate sprites, create fly-out and pop-out menus, and tell you ten ways to make an interactive image gallery. Continue reading
We missed this a while back with all the pre-Holiday rush, but IT-News Australia published the list of the top ten geeks of all time. And yes, it is an article which uses the word ‘geek’ in the positive sense, the way we used to use the word ‘hacker’.
The list is worth pursuing, because it reminds us of all the people without whom we web developers wouldn’t have a job today:
I say that because nearly every film and TV program that comes out, when it shows a computer screen, has some fantastically unrealistic magic going on. So the expectation is set high, and when clients come to you to design their website, they wonder why you can’t make it work like that.
From the orchestra-conductor interface in Minority Report to the fantasy computers on the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek (you like how Captain Picard can talk to the computer, but the bridge crew still has to push a million buttons to drive the ship?), the film and TV industries are acting like they’ve never seen a computer in their entire lives.
If you are a web designer, then there are scores of things that you need to know, so that your websites will be successful. The website that you design must be able to create a rapport between the site and the visitor for a common good. This is one of the many definitions of a successful website.
In addition, your website must be interesting enough to gain the attention of a visitor who may or may not continue on to your site. Thus, there are many things that you need to take heed of in order to achieve a successful website. Here are some useful tips that can help you to become a better web designer.
1. You must be very patient in order to be successful as a web designer. One of the greatest problems that web designers face is the fact that many web designers will try to rush through their work and thus they will often make mistakes. Don’t forget that your website will serve millions of people on the Internet and you need to be patient and meticulous in your efforts, so that you can satisfy a majority of them.
5. A good web designer must be able to balance the use of graphics and Audio – Video files with website viewing efficiency. Using graphics can make your website interesting and pleasing to look at; but overdoing it can cause your web viewing times to slow down. Thus as a website designer, you will have to balance this equation for that particular website.
6. A good web designer must be able to balance out the content of the web site into numerous web pages. This will be better for the visitors and it will also be better for SEO purposes.
7. It is essential for a web designer to know the driving force behind SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It is important for the web designer to be familiar with Search Engine algorithms. This way the web designer will be able to adjust keyword densities and other relevant SEO related criteria.
8. A good web designer will seek professional help and opinion whenever needed.
Layout and navigation are the key for attracting attention to a website. On a well designed website, individual elements, be it graphics or text, appear to be in harmony with and complimentary to each other. The quality of the layout dependents on the right mix of placing of objects, font size, empty spaces, and background.
Use background colour that enhances the look of the text or graphic on the foreground. Lighter shades are generally preferred and practically found to be useful. Avoid adding colours just to create shock value or add an element of surprise. In addition, the background has to be appropriate keeping in mind the focus of the site. A site dedicated for a medical facility may have white or light blue as the background giving an impression of purity, cleanliness, healing etc., while darker colours may not be suitable.
Placing of the text and the spaces in between may also give different impressions about the website. A website for a media company may display text and graphics in a random manner which may not be appropriate for, say a charitable organisation.
It is very important that you have a valid HTML document.
A valid document is important so that your page displays correctly on all browsers. You can use different validations that are available for the purpose. By using these validators you can understand the various errors that exist in your document and easily make sure that you remove these errors to make your page W3C compliant. These validators can provide you with a detailed description of errors that you can read out and eliminate.
When you submit a page for validating you generally get a window or an email that will explain the errors. You cannot have a perfectly valid page the first time so it is important that you validate your page. Moreover, with validation, you ensure that your page can load properly even when HTML versions improve. To effectively fix validation problems you can undertake the following measures: Continue reading
Good web page design is vital if you are planning on optimising your page for the search engines – and why wouldn’t you?
You should plan the design to suit search engines and your customers.
Some of the things that you need to keep in mind are:
Maintaining a consistent theme for your website plays an important role in how effective your natural website rankings will develop. A properly developed website theme will reinforce the users understanding of exactly what your company is offering. Continue reading
Regular readers on Earth Movin’ Media would know that along with web design, I quite often write about search engine marketing techniques on this blog.
However, for more in-depth search engine marketing strategies – then I also write another blog covering internet marketing strategies and search engine ranking factors for web design and development. You will find it here – internet marketing blog
Writing articles is an art, and something that has long been used as an option to build relevant links to websites for the purpose of Internet marketing. The idea is to write good articles to create great content for search engines.
If you write and submit good quality articles with content that is relevant to your product or service, it can be seen as highly useful and therefore generate lots of relevant, high quality links to your website
So how does this fit in with web design?
You will no doubt be asked along the way by clients to assist in their web marketing. Maybe not in a big design firm where you operate as a designer only. But, if you choose to go out on your own, you will find that you are requested to fulfill multiple tasks that you may not have expected to do.
So here we go.
Using good content, you can create good articles (& blogs) which can then create direct links to the website. This is done in the article BIO that you will be asked to include when submitting articles to directories such as Ezine Articles or Slinky Directory.
Creating good content requires writing on topical issues relevant to the website you want to link to.