Web Design Blog

Category: Web Design

What Beginners Need To Know About Typography

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.

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A Simple Introduction To CSS

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.

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Create a Web Design That Helps Convert Visitors to Subscribers

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.

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Web Design – A Look Back At Big Tech Stories OF 2012

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,, 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.

Looking For An Offbeat Image Source? Look No Further

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:

Maybe Web Designers Are Just Hard For Everybody To Understand?

We were amused by Why Adobe Doesn’t Understand Web Designers, a post ruminating on the failings of Adobe to woo the web design crowd, provoked by its latest controversial ‘Muse’ product.

web-design-bannerYou’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.


Web Design Case Study: Laneway Music Festival Website

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.

designers-instrumentary_512The 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.

After that, the site’s a treat. A hip graphic header, easy navigation, splashy photos, and piped-in multimedia content from Twitter, Flickr, and forums make for a site that gets you where you want to go and tells you what you want to know with efficiency and taste.

It just bears pointing out because… hey, have you seen most music-related websites?

The Web Designer’s Most Dreaded Fonts

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.

  • banned-rubber-stamp-graphicComic 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!”
  • Curlz MT – Not only is Curlz ridiculously silly for any purpose except a circus train, it’s stupidly hard to read. If this article were displayed in Curlz MT, you’d have given up by now.
  • Kristen ITC – Well, if you have to ask “What’s wrong with Kristen ITC?”, you’re probably beyond hope. It’s designed to look like it was hand-lettered by a preschooler. And that’s just how your intellect comes off when you use it. Remember, you’re inviting people to think that you’re four years old when you use this font. Don’t blame people for treating you like a four-year-old if you do.
  • Bradley Hand ITC – Bradley hand is one of the hand-written fonts that basically lacks any imagination, while still making everything illegible and pretentious all at once. It’s like making a tray of fancy hors d’ouveres out of Ritz crackers, Spam, and Velveta.
  • Papyrus – Papyrus is hated for being too dramatic. As such, it belongs on movie titles, movie posters, banners at Renaissance Faires, and nowhere else.
  • Viner Hand ITC – If Papyrus is too dramatic, Viner Hand is the cursive font that’s too campy to be dramatic. Don’t use it unless you’re a 14-year-old Goth who shops at Hot Topic and wears a razor blade on a bracelet, because that’s what you’re telling the world.

Web Design – What Is Flash?

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?

folder-adobe-flashIn 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.

But here’s all Flash is: a way to script actions and animate images in a web browser. That’s it. It is made out of just three things: SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), XML (actually just the SMIL-type functions, for multimedia markup), and a scripting language called Actionscript (which, as is plainly evident to anyone who’s coded in it, is just an ECMAScript implementation nearly identical to Javascript).

It is very difficult to justify this plug-in in the year 2010, when it can very easily be mimicked with open standards that have existed for years. In fact, that’s exactly the case with what we’re seeing now:

  • “All major desktop browsers, and many minor browsers, have some level of SVG support, except for Internet Explorer.” No less than Tim Berners-Lee has criticized Microsoft for failing to implement SVG browser support.
  • Then we have AJAX. For basic user interface controls AJAX blows Flash away. There’s even the AJAX Animator project.
  • And then there’s Java. Java is open-source now. The Java plug-in still works, and it does much more than Flash can do anyway.

So it isn’t a case of Adobe having to defend its turf. Its turf has already been invaded, occupied, settled, and homesteaded. It lost its last leg to stand on as early as 1998, when Netscape spawned the Mozilla browser by releasing their code under the Netscape Public License.


A Web-Designer Shares their Toolchain

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.

Your Buzzword For The Day: UX

“UX” stands for “user experience”, and a blogger over at Mashable talks about 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design.

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!”


Our Favorite CSS Showcases

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.

Web Designer Wall – When you land at this page, the startling design tells you right away that you’re at the site of a true artist. Chock-full of inspiration.

25 Hot Female Designers – It’s a common complaint that females in tech careers are sorely underrepresented, so here’s a list of 25 of them and screenshots of their site. At least the design field gets to have a balanced male/female ratio!

CSS Vault – Very complete collection of CSS designs, all organized by layout.

CSS3 Preview – You’ll be sick with desire when you see some of the things we could have in CSS3. For instance, how many lines of Javascript are you using to get rounded corners on your boxes? CSS3 gives you one short line.

CSS Zen Garden – We couldn’t leave this out or everybody would say, “Hey, you forgot Zen Garden!” So here’s the most famous of them all – a single page of XHTML which users can then customize by submitting CSS designs. The gallery has expanded over the years, so there’s a lot to see now.

Web Geeks – Meet Your Idols!

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:

ComputerLinus Torvalds – Maybe you don’t use Linux on your desktop (yet), but it is certainly on the job every time you use the Internet. After all, every time you use Google, you’re using Linux.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee – Made the World Wide Web. ‘Nuff said.

Marc Andreessen – Made the first WWW browser. Also ’nuff said.

Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce – Invented the integrated circuit. Well, yeah, there’s that.

Richard Stallman – Together with Torvalds, has basically single-handedly kept the flame of intelligent computer use and computing freedom alive. Chances are some of your favorite tools exist under the banner of the GPL license.

There’s many more who deserve mention, but I have to admit that of all the top ten lists of influential people in computing, this one is the most accurate.


Hollywood Hates Web Designers

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.

Here’s the specs for the Hollywood Operating System.
You’ll recognize it all.

And here’s some more dumb Hollywood hacking cliches.
You’ve seen them all, too.

And for you hardcore programmers, here’s the list of all the ways Hollywood misrepresents code.

Really, we need a Hollywood webkit. They’ve come close to that a few times already! There’s the LCARS interface from the Starship Enterprise, recreated as a theme for the Enlightenment window manager. Hey, if you can’t beat-em, join-em, right?

But even better, we need to encourage Hollywood to represent our profession more realistically. One flick that got it right was 2001’s Hannibal. Notice how the characters use technology in this movie? A character looks up Hannibal Lecter using something that looks a lot like Google, and gets to something that looks a lot like the FBI’s most wanted list, all while using an ordinary operating system on an ordinary computer.

See? It can be done!


What web designers must know

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.

website1. 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.

2. Make sure that you spend ample time planning for your website. This is important, as your plan will create the main layout for the website and thus this is the only way in which you can make sure that all needed elements are there. Think about the expectations from that particular website and then plan for all the elements that need to be there.

3. It is important for the web designer to be aware of the prospective audience for that particular website. Thus the design of the website must reflect the needs and the expectations of this prospective audience.

4. Make sure that you are up to date on various new techniques and tools on the Internet. It is very important for the web designer to be armed with the latest technologies in order to create a more competitive design. If you need to improve yourself then take some time off to learn about these new technologies


More on what web designers must know

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–Critical to website success

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.

Use font size of 11 or 12 and a pleasant font type – I like Georgia, and avoid Arial type fonts.

Avoid the use of video clips and graphics that take an eternity to load and play. Be sure to add an option tab to skip the video or flash graphics if it is the first thing anyone encounters while entering your website. People would not want to go all over the show every time they visit the site. Do not use animations in the background that run without end, as they may prove to be a distraction in reading the text in the foreground.

Another important feature of a website is the navigation system. A good navigation system can be somewhat compared to finding one’s way using a map. If the clues and directions are foolproof the going gets easier, and more importantly, interesting. Keeping the user interested is the purpose of a good navigation tool. Imagine you have a site dedicated to provide information about all the ways and means for people to travel to exotic places and tips to find cheaper means of transport and low-cost lodging. A well-designed navigation tool will make it easier to gather information, as well as explore deeper and wider, for the possibilities of adding various places on to the tour itinerary. A link attached with each location name could lead the user to a page dedicated to photographs or video clips of each location.

A good navigation tool helps in moving from one page to another with minimum effort. It is generally advised that the navigation system be planned and finalised well before the website is developed. Many a times it so happens that a user does not find specific information on a site, in spite of it being shown consistently when a Google search is made using the keyword.

The importance of navigation can be well appreciated when accessing data from websites of popular organizations. Adding a navigation chart that can be accessed from the home page is advisable. A user may find it easier to find his way using the chart rather than exploring all options available.

Fixing Validation Problems Effectively

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:

• Read the full text of each error:
When you submit your page for validation, these validators provide you with a lot of information on errors. Though it seems like a lot of information, you should read through it thoroughly. It gives you many important information for elimination.

• Fix errors in order:
The validators read the HTML code sequentially. It is better to start fixing the problems in the same sequence. You may find yourself spending more time on fixing errors if you go from the last error to the first error.

• Re-validate after every fix:
Typically for errors of any kind a single error at the top can generate other errors after it. If you eliminate the errors in a sequence and validate them after each fix, you may find that some of the errors get eliminated without having to work on them.

• Go to line number and start reading up:
From the list of errors provided, you would know the line number for the error. Go to the line and find the error if it exists on that line or before that line.

• Line and column number are not necessarily accurate:
Though the validators give you a near accurate idea as to where the problem starts, it is not always perfect. You can take the information provided as a guideline and check the code around that line to find the problem area. Move up from that line if you do not find the error on that line itself.

• Warnings may be ignored:
There are some warnings that these validators sometimes provide you with if it is not sure about something in the code. You can remove the errors and have a fully valid page with the warnings. They are simply shown to indicate that there may be problems for some browsers or user agents. If you want, you may choose to correct those.

There are various validators available like HTML validators, XHTML validators and CSS validators. They validate what their names suggest and are easy to use. They use W3C to validate your HTML, XHTML and CSS specifications.

You may also make use of the Link Checker that can help you to find if the link is working or broken. There are accessibility validators also which can check your document.

Fixing validation issues is not difficult and makes your page compliant with most of the browsers.


Web Page Design

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:

demonstrationMaintaining 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.

Your website design should provide strategic navigation that does not permit your visitors to get lost within deeper pages, creating traffic fall out and abandoned shopping carts.

Create a navigation layout that is both search engine and user friendly. We want to focus on creating a clearly defined hierarchical layout that enables the average user to navigate easily throughout your site.

If you feel it is time to redesign your site and you’re having difficulties coming up with a good design, Perth Web Designers can design an effective web site that is sure to meet the expectations of your customers and search engines.

Web Design And How To Create Great Content To Get Good Links

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

websiteslinks-iconWriting 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.

Creating good content requires writing on topical issues relevant to the website you want to link to.

• When you are writing content for article links, your focus is not only prospective customers but also other bloggers or writers who are writing similar type of content. When you have good quality content, you will find that many people rely on your content for interesting information. Similarly, if you put interesting content in your blogs and/or discussion forums you will also attract many visitors. This is noticed by other companies. Such companies will contact you for partner links. It would be mutually beneficial for both companies as the traffic that one pulls add on to the other’s links to a certain extent.

• You may select a topical issue on which to write. If there is some issue that matters most to your industry, a discussion based on it can become very interesting if handled cleverly. Such a discussion can give you a great insight to the industry, as well as have some new ideas or opinions about the issue in question.

• When you develop content, ensure that it becomes conversational. When people are tempted to participate in discussions and when your conversations become more popular, you find a large number of visitors. With the added traffic to your website, you will find more and more companies approach you to share links. You have to be diligent in selecting only the links that will add value.

• Other companies can be happy to share links with you if you have good quality content. Write your articles correctly and precisely. When other sites find linking to your sites beneficial for traffic creation you can well feel assured of getting their traffic as well. This helps in improving your page ranking.

• When you create content, pay attention to the basics. The use of title, headings, spelling, and grammar is vital. Break articles into meaningful sections, word counts, etc. Moreover make sure that you do not try too hard to promote your product or service in the articles.

You should be able to submit your articles to different publishers. Try submitting to social networking and social bookmarking sites such as digg. These sites can potentially deliver huge traffic and great links.