With the arrival of IE9, Microsoft has signalled its intent to work more with standards-based technologies. With IE still the single most popular browser and in many ways the browser for the uninitiated, this is hopefully the long awaited start of us Web craftsmen embracing the idea of using CSS3 as freely as we do CSS 2.1. However, with IE9 not being supported on versions of Windows before Vista and a lot of businesses still running XP and reluctant (or unable) to upgrade, it might take a while until a vast majority of our users will see the new technologies put to practice.
While plenty of people out there are using CSS3, many aren’t so keen or don’t know where to start. This article will first look at the ideas behind CSS3, and then consider some good working practices for older browsers and some new common issues.
A Helpful Analogy
The best analogy to explain CSS3 that I’ve heard relates to the world of film. Filmmakers can’t guarantee what platform their viewers will see their films on. Some will watch them at the cinema, some will watch them at home, and some will watch them on portable devices. Even among these few viewing options, there is still a massive potential for differences: IMAX, DVD, Blu-ray, surround sound — somebody may even opt for VHS!
So, does that mean you shouldn’t take advantage of all the great stuff that Blu-ray allows with sound and video just because someone somewhere will not watch the film on a Blu-ray player? Of course not. You make the experience as good as you can make it, and then people will get an experience that is suitable to what they’re viewing the movie on. Continue reading
Parallax and Scrolling
Parallax is an animation effect that allows layers to move in response to a particular viewpoint. The effect is used to add a three-dimensional depth illusion to the design and make interaction more responsive and interesting. Recently, this technique has been frequently used to animate background images, as in the famous Nike Better World site.
Nike Better World
Rich graphics and parallax 3D effects
As web design and design in general have evolved, rules have been established to ensure consistent and usable designs.
Some of these rules were created simply because website creators abused certain principles without regard for their users. But these rules are not enforced by anyone and should be broken when necessary, especially when breaking them would lead to a stunning design. In this article, we present 10 rules that you can break if it suits your design needs.
Rule #1: Do Not Display the Horizontal Scroll Bar
A significant number of mice don’t have a horizontal mouse wheel. This makes it awkward to scroll left or right when a web page’s content extends past the sides of the browser. It can be annoying to have to bring the mouse cursor down to the bottom of the window and drag the scroll bar over just to see a word or two that lies beyond the viewable area of the page. That said, here are some well-designed sites that put the scroll bar to work in effective ways. Continue reading
When you think of most websites, purple is the color you may think of the least. Some designers have embraced this and made their sites stand out from the rest. In this post I will share with you 17 websites that make use of the color purple.
Your website is designed, the CMS works, content has been added and the client is happy. It’s time to take the website live. Or is it? When launching a website, you can often forget a number of things in your eagerness to make it live, so it’s useful to have a checklist to look through as you make your final touches and before you announce your website to the world.
This article reviews some important and necessary checks that web-sites should be checked against before the official launch — little details are often forgotten or ignored, but – if done in time – may sum up to an overall greater user experience and avoid unnecessary costs after the official site release.
A favicon brands the tab or window in which your website is open in the user’s browser. It is also saved with the bookmark so that users can easily identify pages from your website. Some browsers pick up the favicon if you save it in your root directory as favicon.ico, but to be sure it’s picked up all the time, include the following in your head.
And if you have an iPhone favicon:
At the end of every trade show or business convention, the participants go home with a fistful of business cards. Card printing is as important to your business as banner printing, poster printing or any kind of custom printing for that matter. Your business cards are your only link to the contacts you make. A full-service online printing company like 4over4.com can print impressive, attention-getting business cards quickly and deliver them just as rapidly by mail or courier.
For your business card to make the best impression, it needs to appeal to the touch, first of all. High-gloss paper feels classy. Specialty business cards made of plastic or metal are sure conversation starters. With online printing, you can peruse the entire inventory of card stock to find the perfect fit for you.
The design of your business card says a lot about your company. Your child may be an artist-in-training, but hire a professional to design your card. Use a logo or graphic if you like. Full color card printing is as easy to order as single color printing but be careful to maintain a professional appearance. Obviously, if you’re a professional clown, you’ll want to have a fun, colorful card but if you’re a financial adviser, you need a more stately appearance so your customers take you seriously. Continue reading
Content, content, content. It’s an obvious part of any interactive experience. In fact, you’ve probably heard content is king, or queen, or some sort of royalty. Yet, content is elusive. Often, you don’t realize your content isn’t cutting it until it’s too late. Does any of this sound familiar?
The Real Solution
No SEO trick and no technology product alone will solve the content problem for you. The real solution to the content problem is hard work that demands change in your (or your company’s) approach to planning, designing and developing interactive experiences. That’s what gets results. There’s no shortcut. And indeed, the path to content that counts is a hard road. But it cannot be the excuse for compromising the quality of experience we provide to our users.
Content strategy is planning for every aspect of content to get results. That goes far beyond writing the copy. When getting strategic about content, focus on three key areas: analysis, editorial and architecture. While explaining content strategy in detail literally requires a book (or two or three), I’d like to share with you a concise introduction to each area in this article.
Let’s pull it all together with some pragmatic ways to get your typeface choice made. You might want to try these tips, which many designers use to their advantage in one way or another. Be the beneficiary of their wisdom and experience.
1. Plan Your Hierarchy
First, make sure you have a good grasp of the content and typographic hierarchy your design job will dictate. You may realize, after a thorough analysis, you need five fonts (not typefaces) to cover your various heading, sub-headings and call-outs. Can your typeface provide enough variation with bolds, italics and small caps? Or do you need two typefaces to create more distinction in the hierarchy? Three? Use a mind-mapping tool or make a traditional outline to see as much as you can before you start choosing typefaces. Consider this example of a bad and a good hierarchy using the same text. Notice the role white space plays in the hierarchy, too. Use as many levels as you need as long as there is distinction and clear purpose in your choices.
One of the biggest mistakes I see from web designers is making accessibility more complicated than it actually is. Most designers think of creating accessible content as something that will take weeks of exaggerated tagging, designing tab-browsing and hot keys for every minute function of a site, and writing over-descriptive metadata, so most people just give up and don’t even bother. However, by using some simple techniques and following some basic guidelines, you can make your website accessible to a wide audience of users without spending too much time and energy.
I define web accessibility as:
“Making web content available to a wide audience regardless of physical abilities, web clients, and personal preferences.”
To simplify our tasks as accessible web designers, there a few specific categories that can be helpful as we evaluate some of the different types of users:
- Visually Impaired: Those with low or no vision. These users may use screenreading software or may use the browser’s functionality to increase text size and contrast.
- Hearing Impaired: Those with low or no hearing. These users will need to be able to see a textual representation of any audio that is part of the site.
- Physically Impaired: Those who lack the physical dexterity to use a mouse or a traditional keyboard. These users may use a variety of interface devices, many of which parallel the functionality of the traditional [TAB] key. Continue reading
Everyone has a website these days, but not every website is equal. As the online environment becomes ever more crowded, you don’t just need to have a website, you need to have an outstanding website. In pursuit of the perfect page, here are some of the top web design mistakes to avoid.
1. Make the purpose of the website clear immediately
The internet is a very fast-paced environment in which millions of companies are competing for the attention of your potential customers. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your web design is to prepare a site which does not clearly outline the nature of your business and the services that are available online. This information needs to be obvious and should appear on the first page of the website that browsers are likely to encounter. If you make your website too difficult to understand your potential customers will move on within seconds.
2. Use colour in moderation
Another common mistake that can be made in web design, particularly by the inexperienced, is the use of loud and conflicting colour schemes. Certainly contemporary web design does allow for the use of a myriad of colours and background patterns, but that doesn’t mean you need to use seven different themes on each page. Pick two or three colours that evoke the mood of your business and are not so harsh that your customers will need to wear sunglasses to browse through the site! Use colour in moderation. Continue reading