Sunday, March 9, 2008

I should have done this first

For some reason, this Lifetime Achievement Award should have been posted as a first here, yet ... was not.

No one should question the impact of CSS on web development anymore. It's basically a given these days. There was a web site however, that can be (arguably) credited with raising awareness of CSS' potential and importance. And that was (is)

The Zen Garden

A web site that remains unchanged (for the most part) in content, but continues to grow as a designer battlefield. Created by Dave Shea, the idea was simple enough: to allow a static content to be redesigned over and over by anyone, who wishes to take on the challenge. The results are there for everyone to see. No need to agree with what it looks like, it's the EASY way to switch a web site look, that shows the true flexibility of CSS approach. It still accepts new designs and you can have the code of each design. HTML is of course also available so you can have a go at it any time you start feeling thirsty.

Go directly to designs page and see for yourself ... amazing. And check out the book too, worth having.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Something to gain from ... or not

This link is in the sidebar too, but I thought I should make a point of it here. It's a site of "favorite" web sites, with easy navigation (just don't expect a site to open up when you click on an image). It's a huge collection of sites and as one can imagine, there is some awesome stuff to be viewed. As always, one can learn from what other designers and programmers have come up with, which is not to say that every idea will fit everyone's taste.

Favorite Website Awards

Let me say here though, that personally I'm "A List Apart" type of a guy and appreciate its design far more than most sites presented at FWA.


Monday, March 3, 2008

A word on the "golden ratio"

Golden Ratio (or golden section or several other names) is considered a great discovery in mathematics, but most often associated with aesthetics of any form factor. It's been used by architects, artists, designers and others in order to derive a pleasing balance to a form. Needless to say, it's a formula useful to web designers as well.

This magic number is used to proportion just about anything in a design, be it a column width ratios, font size increments, logo or image proportions etc. This is of course not to say, that you either go golden or else. But for the most part it is almost impossible to believe how universal (and successful) this number has been...for centuries. In other words, if in doubt ... stick to it.

For more insight on the origins and use of the golden ratio see:
1. Wikipedia or
2. Golden Number or
3. Golden Ratio


Award of the Year goes to ...

I'm launching a series of Awards that will feature a valuable (to an aspiring web designer) source. Depending on overall quality, wealth of information, uniqueness, and impact, it will break down into Annual, Monthly and Weekly awards, and will cover any medium: a web site, a book, a magazine, what have you.

My first Annual Award goes to A List Apart web site for the influential (and beautiful) design, wealth of information, and inspirational value. It was designed by Jason Santa Maria, talk about a guy with sense of balance through simplicity.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

A well executed web site

Creating one's own site requires careful planning, lots of deliberate work, and great execution if one is to be satisfied with results meeting high standards. Much can be learned from sites already published on the web. I'm always on a lookout for well implemented designs and here is one of them.

Brett Simison, a photographer (a good one too) appears to have taken on the whole project of designing and programming his own site. Results are clean, well styled and organized. He uses tables for layout, but that should not be viewed as a negative.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

The "Head First ..." series

I came across this "Head First ..." series from O'Reilly Media about a month ago. It has since been my first GO TO publication. They are capable of taking a novice web designer/programmer close to an advanced level, and do it in a very entertaining format. Yet, information seems precise and I just don't get tired going through the pages. Check out links placed within images and download a sample section for your own evaluation.

O'Reilly has also set up a dedicated web site based on the same theme Head First Labs


CSS and user preferences

Power of CSS based styling is unquestionable. In addition to being able to style the whole site from a single external (of HTML) file, it also allows for easy site style changes on the fly by the user. This usually involves a simple javascript bit and, of course, a set of styles to choose from. As an example of simple implementation of such, see:

Daniel Morrison

and click on one of the icons in top right corner. it gives you a few color schemes and a fixed vs. stretched width. This can go much farther though.

Now, in case of a photographer's site, user choices may not always be possible or specifically, wanted, since it usually involves careful design, so image presentation is to author's liking. However, in some cases, and a load of even more careful design, it's possible to set a few choices, so say images end up being displayed against a black, or grey, or white background by user's choice. By same, we could allow user to change the style of site navigation. While I can't imagine putting too much of extra work into a site that had a hard time getting there to begin with, I still see this part of CSS styling as a means to attract more visitor's to your site. In general, user's appreciate being given some control over what (or how) they view things.