Website Design

A website design course at the University of Wyoming

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Layout and Positioning Strategies

Ch. 11: Layout and Positioning: Arranging Elements

***Remember that you can view the source code (html) and css of each layout that is linked below. Right-click, “View source” or “View page source”, and see the html. To view the css, click the css linked on the html code (code reads href = “starbuzz.css” or some version of that). ***

***It is fine for you to mimic and copy the layout strategies below.***

Understanding the “flow” of elements — pp. 472-478

Floating elements as a layout strategy — pp. 479-482.

1. Reformatting the Starbuzz web page to a two-column web page using the floating strategy — pp. 483-500.

2. The jello layout — pp. 500-503.

3. Absolute positioning — pp. 503-509.

4. CSS table display layout — pp. 510-520.

Review of CSS layout strategies — pp. 521-522

Floating images in a header — pp. 523-527.

Using absolute positioning for an image — pp. 527-529.

Fixed positioning — pp. 530-536.

Relative positioning — p. 536

Week 2: Building Blocks for the Web

Krug Chapter 2: How We Really Use the Web

What is the sad reality about how we use websites? (hint: billboard vs. great literature)

Why do we scan? –> On a mission. Don’t need to read everything. It’s a basic skill.

What is satisficing and why do we do it? –> We use the first reasonable option because we’re in a hurry, guessing is fun, and no harm is done if our guess is wrong.

We muddle through. It’s not super important, so we figure it out quickly and be done with it.

But…you want users to “get it” and not muddle through. Because

  • They will feel smarter
  • They will feel in control and explore more
  • They will find what they want

But how do we do this?

The solution is Ch. 3: Billboard Design.

Krug Chapter 3: Designing for Scanning, Not Reading

What is billboard design?

Six major tenets:

1. Take advantage of conventions

  • We have expectations about: Where things will be located on a page. How things work. How things look.
  • As beginning web designers, use these conventions.
  • Be consistent, but be clear first
  • In the end, you can be creative, yet make the creativity usable

2. Create effective visual hierarchies

  • Visual hierarchies (i.e., prominence, grouping, and nesting) reveal relationships
  • This relates to the design principles of proximity and emphasis as well

3. Break pages up into clearly defined areas

  • Use design principles to make the header, navigation, body, subsections of the body, and footer distinct areas

4. Make it obvious what’s clickable

  • What are some visual clues to “clickable”?
  • How does CSS fit into this idea of clickable?

5. Eliminate distractions

6. Format content to support scanning

  • Use a lot of headings
  • Make the headings VERY DISTINCT
  • Keep paragraphs very short, just like in newswriting.
  • Use bulleted lists to break up the text
  • And, highlight key words

And Now…Let the Coding Begin…

First, it’s helpful (and very awe-inspiring) to know the history of the Internet before we start building our own webpages.

Now you’re familiar with the Internet’s skeleton, let’s start learning about its guts – the web!

R&F Chapter 1: Universal Language of the Web

Servers, browsers, and hypertext markup language (HTML) – pp. 2-8.

Class exercise on p. 7.

Instructor-led exercises on pp. 9-31.

Individual exercises on pp. 32-42.

R&F Chapter 2: Hypertext

Instructor-led exercises on pp. 43-67.

Individual student exercises on pp. 68-76.

 

Week 1: Design Principles to Showcase Your Work

Why You’ll Thank Yourself for Knowing HTML & CSS

(1) You can now showcase your own material and skills: If you’re headed for a media or communication career that involves new media and social media, it’s a great idea to have your own website. You can post and host all of your journalism and communication material–print stories, audio stories, photography, video stories, slideshows, interactive graphics, artwork, etc. This effort will help you “brand” yourself. There is a lot of competition out there.

(2) You can now work with a content management system: Most large companies have a CMS (content management system) that is like a standard “shell” where you insert the content. You have little control over the layout and design, rather, you merely insert the content into the shell. With advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS, you will understand the CMS and you may even be able to make or suggest improvements.

(3) You can now design websites for others: Once word gets out that you can design websites, don’t be surprised if your friends, family, acquaintances, organizations, companies, etc., start asking you to design their website. You can make some money out of this skill!

Let’s read an article about getting a job in journalism code (from NICAR: National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting).

What are your thoughts on this Q&A about journalism and coding?

Design Principles for Creating a Clean, Professional Website

Emphasis

Definition: Highlights the importance of the site’s content. Also relates to hierarchy.

  • When creating a draft of your site, list all of the information that needs to appear on the page.
  • Then, number the information by order of importance.
  • Design the visual hierarchy so the page reflects the determined importance.
  • Avoid emphasizing everything and avoid emphasizing nothing.

Good example.

Balance

Definition: How the elements in a design are distributed and how they relate to the overall distribution of visual weight within the page. As elements are grouped together in a page, visual weight is created. You want to balance the visual weight so as to create stability. Two kinds exist:
1. Symmetrical Balance: Equal visual weight is given to elements so that two halves mirror one another. Example.
2. Asymmetrical Balance: Visual weight is distributed equally, but elements do not mirror one another. Example.

Websites can mix the two types as well. Example.

Alignment

Definition: The arrangement of elements in such a way that the natural lines (or borders) created by them match up as closely as possible.

  • Don’t mix alignments. Choose one alignment and use it on the entire page. Not-so-hot example.
  • Break this rule for creating contrast and focus. Like this.
  • Do not center everything.

Proximity

Definition: The relationships that items develop when they are close together. When items are close, ensure you want the relationship to exist. When items are far apart, relationships are less likely to exist.
Example of proximity creating relationships.
Example of potentially confusing proximity.

Repetition

Definition: Throughout the website, there are certain elements that are common and unify the disparate parts together.

  • Each page should look like it belongs to the same website.
  • Color, shape, line, fonts, spacing, layout, typography, and imagery are some examples of potential repetitive elements.
  • A benefit of repetition is predictability. Users will better understand the design, navigation, and hierarchy.

Good Examples: Color repetition. Font repetition. Layout repetition. Imagery repetition.

Poor Examples: Lack of color repetition. Lack of font repetition. Lack of layout repetition. Lack of imagery repetition.

Contrast

Definition: The visual differentiation of two or more elements. Contrast creates emphasis and focus toward the distinct elements, and can create a visual hierarchy as well.

  • Elements that have strong contrast appear distinct and unique. Elements that have weak contrast appear unified.
  • If you want elements to appear separate, use strong contrast. Go all the way. Don’t make them almost the same.
  • Ensure that some elements of your website have contrast, which subsequently creates focus. You don’t want everything to have the same visual priority.
  • Create contrast with color, size, position, and font.

Examples: Color contrast. Size contrast. Poor use of contrast. Another poor use of contrast.

Background Images

Related to contrast is the background image. Should you have one on your website? The answer: it depends. If there is enough contrast and the image is repeated in a seamless manner, then it is OK: Example 1 | Example 2.

Do not use a background image if the image if the contrast is too weak or the image is not seamlessly repeated: Example 1 | Example 2.

What are your thoughts on these examples? Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3

Flow

Definition: The path the users’ eyes follow as they examine a website. Flow results from the execution of the design principles explained above.

  • Consider that our eyes typically examine webpages from left to right and top to bottom.
  • Ensure our eyes do not bounce around the page, darting from right to bottom and back up.

Example of smooth flow. Another example of smooth flow. Example of poor flow.

Typography on the Web

This refers to the use of fonts, font size, and font style on the web.

  1. Text is appropriate size.
  2. Hierarchy of information is clear.
  3. Lines of text are not too long to read.
  4. Background does not compete with text.
  5. There is enough contrast between background and text color.
  6. Uses sans serif fonts for long portions of text.
  7. No large blocks of text in bold, italic, all caps, or small caps.

What do you think about these examples in terms of typography? Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3

Color Schemes

There are several types of color schemes to choose from when designing your website. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these terms and the color wheel.

  1. Monochromatic: Only one color is used, with varying values. Example 1. Example 2.
  2. Analogous: Several colors that sit next to one another on the color wheel are used. Example 1. Example 2.
  3. Complementary: Joins colors that sit across from one another on the color wheel. Example 1.
  4. Triadic: Three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel are used. Example 1.
  5. Color Discord: Color discord can be visually disturbing, attract interest, relay ideas or themes, and create surprise. Example 1.

You want to pick one color strategy and stick to it in order to create a visually appealing website.

Layout and Themes

There are many options when it comes to the overall layout and theme of your website. Here are some ideas:

  1. Ultra clean and minimalist designs lean toward minimalism, but emphasize the crystal clearness of the design. They are timeless and are easier to build and maintain. They offer professionalism as well. Example 1. Example 2. Example 3.
  2. Type-focused designs use the text as a dominant element and use text in an elegant way. Example 1. Example 2. Example 3.
  3. Visual-oriented designs use images, graphics, or multimedia in an elegant way. These websites may be a little more difficult for beginners to design and maintain. Example 1. Other examples of visual-oriented websites.

Note: Definitions and listed material are adapted from The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Vol. 2 as well as The Non-Designer’s Web Book, 3rd ed..

If you want to examine even more examples of websites, check out these student websites. Note that some websites are great and some are a throwback to poor web design principles from the 1990s.

Week 1: First Law of Usability and How to Learn HTML

Krug Introduction

A usability consultant identifies problems with websites. You will benefit from knowing about usability as a website designer and future employee of a company/non-profit that has a website.

Krug outlines seven key words that define usability:

  1. Useful: Does it do something people need done?
  2. Learnable: Can people figure out how to use it?
  3. Memorable: Do they have to relearn it each time they use it?
  4. Effective: Does it get the job done?
  5. Efficient: Does it do it with a reasonable amount of time and effort?
  6. Desirable: Do people want it?
  7. Delightful: Is using it enjoyable, or even fun?

Krug Chapter 1: Basic Usability

Most important usability concept: “Don’t make me think!”

You want to build a website that is OBVIOUS and SELF-EVIDENT to the user and does not require thought.

For example:

  1. Navigation is easy to find, understand, and use.
  2. Web pages give a clue as to where the user is and what page they are on.
  3. Links standout from the normal text color, yet coordinate with page colors.
  4. Link text gives a clue as as to where the user will go once they click on it.
  5. Consistent navigation across the website enhances usability.

Questions that you DON’T want your user to ask:

  1. Where am I?
  2. Where should I start navigating?
  3. Where did they put ____?
  4. What is the point of this page?
  5. Why did they label it ____ when they really meant _____?
  6. Is that an ad or part of the website? –> Although, “native advertising” is hugely successful nowadays.

R&F Introduction: How to Use This Book

This is a conversational, fun, and memorable HTML book. The introduction has a few key points that I’d like to emphasize.

Embrace the silliness, graphics, and conversational style. They are novel and fun. You will remember them more.

Embrace the struggles. We learn when we struggle and fail. Get yourself to think more deeply and critically when you fail.

Embrace the redundancy. We will create the examples in the textbook. Then, you must apply these concepts and skills to your own website. It’s redundant, but it will stick to your brain more.

Embrace the ambiguity. There is often no “right” or “wrong” way to design something. There are many approaches to achieving the same overall result. However, there are design principles that matter and should influence your work.

Embrace the details. On the flip side, details matter. There is a “right” and “wrong” way to write code. One missing backslash or colon can ruin your website.

 

Adding a Resume and Achieving that “Wow Factor”

Adding a Resume

For the final website, you need the resume in both PDF and HTML versions. This means the resume should be downloadable by PDF and should be coded in HTML (or appear as an image). See classmate Olga’s resume page for a good example of how she met this criteria.

To embed the PDF, save your resume as a PDF file from Word (go to Save & Send –> Create PDF Document). Ensure you save it in the same folder as your website files. Then, in the HTML code, insert the PDF file as a link: <a href=”my_resume.pdf” target=”_blank”>Download my resume</a>.

To insert the resume as an image, open the Word document in Adobe Illustrator (or another editing program that can open .doc files). Go to File –> Save for Web & Devices –> Save as .jpg file in the same folder as your other website files. Then, in the HTML, insert the image element code: <img src=”my_resume.jpg” alt=”My resume as an image.”  border=”1px black solid”>.

If you have any trouble, please let me know.

Improving the Application of Design Principles

Many of you need to improve the professional look and feel of your website. You may have met the requirements for the final website, but you are missing the bonus “wow factor” that “A” websites possess. To meet the “wow factor” requirement for an “A”, you must apply design principles in a clean and professional manner. Let’s review the design principles before examining some example websites.

Here are a few student websites that have the wow factor and some that don’t.

Wow Factor Websites

  • Example 1: Uses simple repeating background image with a jello layout
  • Example 2: Simple color scheme with repeating background image and jello layout
  • Example 3: Simple color scheme, clean look with simple graphic and font

Websites That Lack The Wow Factor

  • Example 1: Poor color scheme, inconsistent font choice, and more problems
  • Example 2: Poor color scheme, but otherwise it is OK. See what a poor color scheme can do?
  • Example 3: Odd choice of fonts, poor color scheme, distracting and odd background image. Layout looks pretty good though.

Aiming for the Wow Factor: Adding a Simple Repeating Background Image

What is a simple repeating background image? Check out my personal website to see what I mean. Right-click to “view background image” andimg09 you’ll see that there is a simple rectangle that is set to repeat in my CSS. See the corresponding CSS code below:

#bodyindex { background: #DEDEDE url(images/img12.png) repeat-x left top; }

#bodypages { background: #DEDEDE url(images/img09.png) repeat-x left top; }

To explain: I created an index page that looked slightly different from the rest of the web pages, so it has its own division (#bodyindex, just for the index) and its own image (img12.png, just for the index page). The other web pages use the #bodypages division and the img09.png image. Notice that I’m only repeating it horizontally once (that is the “repeat-x left top” rule). Then, when the image is done repeating, it defaults to the background color of #DEDEDE (the light tan color).

To refresh your memory on the background selector options in CSS (such as background-repeat, background-position, etc), please see p. 380-383 in the textbook.

Aiming for the Wow Factor: Adding Rounded and Stylized Borders

Notice how my dropdown menus on my personal website have rounded edges. This effect looks professional and is easy to create using the border-radius property in CSS. See. p. 386-389 in the textbook for a refresher on how to create and style borders using CSS. In another example, classmate Hannah has applied a stylized border to her home page.

Aiming for the Wow Factor: Adding a Logo or Photo That’s Consistent Across Pages

On my personal website, you’ll notice that the home page has a larger photo with my name and the content pages have a cropped smaller version of the same photo. This creates visually consistency across pages.

Consider using a consistent image across your websites as well. For example, classmate Gabrielle has used a golf-related image for her golf-themed website.

Classmates Jordan and Olga have created logos that are used consistently across their websites.

To create a simple logo, go into Photoshop or another graphic design program and experiment with the text tool, shapes, and lines to create an original logo for your website. Simple is fine. It does not have to be fancy or complicated.

Photo Galleries & Slideshows

Photo Galleries

If you want to organize your photos in a gallery, then here are some options that I’ve created for you. Feel free to adapt this as you see fit.

Photo galleries are great for a large number of photos to display. If you only have a few photos to display, or want to display photos in a slideshow manner, see the section called Photo Slideshows below.

I will walk you through some of the major coding concepts. Otherwise, it’s up to you to play around with the HTML and CSS to adjust to your website. Please let me know if you have questions.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Photo Slideshows

Dynamic photo slideshows are even more complicated than static photo galleries. Let’s skim over a tutorial to get an idea of what’s involved.

We can work through the key pieces of code that you need to understand in order to adapt the code for your own website.

Photo slideshows are great for less than than a dozen photos or so. If you’d like to showcase all of your photos on a webpage, then go with a photo gallery. If you want to highlight a few important photos on a home page or content page, then go with a short slideshow.

Note: The more photos you add, the more complicated the code gets and the more you’ll have to work to re-write the code to fit your needs.

Example 1: Automatic slideshow with no captions

Example 2: Automatic slideshow with captions and play/pause buttons, very complicated code

Example 3: Automatic slideshow with captions when you hover

Example 4: Automatic slideshow with captions all the time

You could also download the code from the first example we looked at and edit that code as well.

Drop-Down Navigation & Appendix Top 7

Drop-down Menu

Drop-down menus can make navigating your website easier. I added a drop-down menu to my personal website.

In order to give you a cleaner version of the drop-down menu, we will examine the clean example on my website by first looking at the HTML and then look at the CSS.

The HTML is very simple. Let’s start there. Open a new notepad document and follow me.

You’ll see that the CSS is a little more complicated. Let’s copy and paste the CSS into a new notepad document.

  • We will break down the major components of the CSS file to understand what’s going on.
  • We will use our book’s Appendix section to learn more about the CSS once we’ve typed it in and done the example ourselves.
  • We will play around with the CSS code by deleting and altering rules in order to see what happens. –> This is a great way to learn what specific rules are doing in CSS!
  • If you need to use drop-down navigation, you will add the code to your website and adapt it as necessary. I will help you, if needed.

Also, don’t forget that I’ve added a new section of HTML & CSS Resources in our sidebar of links on our blog here.

Appendix Top 7

Appendix #1:  More CSS selectors (and the word-spacing  property)

Appendix #2:  Vendor (i.e., browser) specific CSS properties

Appendix #3: CSS transforms and transitions (we will do this example together)

Appendix #4: Interactivity (this is what JavaScript looks like)

Appendix #5: HTML5 APIs and web apps

Appendix #6: More on Web fonts

Appendix #7: Tools for creating web pages

Job Opening at Wyoming Tribune Eagle

A small daily newspaper with one of the top designs in America is accepting applications from a designer/copy editor to join our team. If you like designing pages with flair, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle wants to talk to you. Headline writing and copy editing are also part of the position. Web and social media skills are preferred as well; we are upgrading the digital side of our operation and are looking for someone who can help. This is a great entry-level opportunity or one for a more experienced person looking to make a move upward. The WTE, a seven-day a.m. Sunday circulation of 15,000, underwent a radical redesign in 2008 that takes advantage of one of the most technologically advanced presses in America. Cheyenne, Wyo., is located near the Snowy Range mountains at the northern tip of the Colorado Front Range. Our growing city is close to some of the best hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and other outdoor activity areas in our region. We’re also only about a 90-minute drive from Denver and 45 minutes from Fort Collins, Colo. Send a cover letter, resume and work samples to Mark Borgard, Assistant Managing Editor-Nights, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, 702 W. Lincolnway, Cheyenne, WY 82001 or submit materials via e-mail at mborgard@wyomingnews.com. No calls please.

http://www.journalismjobs.com/job-listings/1544602

 

Updating to HTML5 Markup

Ch. 12, Modern HTML: HTML5 Markup

Monday and Wednesday

Download the correct HTML (right-click, view source, copy and paste code into Notepad, save as “blog.html”) and CSS file (click link, copy and paste code into Notepad, save as “starbuzz.css”) for this assignment

Why change from <divs> to HTML5 markup — pp. 545-547.

Updating the Starbuzz website to HTML5 (conceptual) — pp. 548-558.

Adding a blog to a web page — pp. 559-572.

Adding navigation to your website — pp. 573-577.

Adding video — pp. 578-593.

Embedding video with YouTube

Adding audio — p. 710

See the Starbuzz Blog with an mp4 video that autostarts.

See the Starbuzz Blog with multiple video sources that does not autostart and for an embedded audio file using HTML5.

Friday

Required attendance workday. Submit Assignment 6 – Website with CSS Formatting & Layout by 11:59 p.m.

 

Paid Internship in Gillette with Cloud Peak Energy

The intern will work for our Public Affairs department. I’m really looking for a student with experience in graphic design – or at least with full knowledge of InDesign, Photoshop and ideally Illustrator. It will be a paid internship located in Gillette.

HERE IS THE JOB DESCRIPTION:

Cloud Peak Energy, one of the largest U.S. coal producers, is offering a public affairs internship for summer 2015 in the corporate office. The internship will allow the student to gain exposure to the communications and public affairs industry and will provide a real-world experience that can supplement classroom studies.

Throughout the course of the 10-week internship, the student will work closely with our Public Affairs team while interacting with all departments throughout the company to provide support to the Media Communications Representative by assisting with corporate publications, intranet portal and corporate website and advertising.

The intern will also assist with updating the photo archive and have the opportunity to participate in a variety of community events. An ideal public affairs intern candidate for Cloud Peak Energy should be a passionate, creative and fast-learning undergraduate or graduate student who wishes to further his/her interests in the communication and public relations fields. The position is located at our headquarters in Gillette, Wyoming.

Requirements:

  • Preferred area of study includes Communications, Public Relations, Graphic Design, Visual Arts or similar discipline 
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills
  • Candidate must be self-directed, organized, resourceful and professional, with the ability to work independently as well as on a team
  • Experience with Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator preferred

Contact: Michelle Butler, michelle.butler@cldpk.com, 3076876022.

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