Archive of: 2009
Website inspiration: Colour and coffee
28 December 2009 by
I collect website screen shots in a Flickr set called Website Inspiration. I use the screen shots to remind myself of some fantastic website designs that I see on my travels round the web. Each design has aspects that I love, for example the colour scheme, the typography, or even one specific element that I think works really well. I have never really featured the websites or screen shots on this blog in any detail so this is the first of what I hope will be a series of regular posts that highlights some outstanding website designs. Up this week are Rainbeau Mars and Art in My Coffee
Advanced CSS we CAN use today
20 December 2009 by
There have been several articles recently that describe advanced CSS methods, usually part of the CSS3 specification (CSS3 Info), and how these push the boundaries of what we can do with CSS. There are some great examples.
Plans for this blog in 2010?
14 December 2009 by
I have been thinking about what I might do with this blog next year because I want to do something that would be (for me) a bit different. I have been wanting to redesign for a while and here's an idea that I am considering.
Advent calendar websites for web developers
07 December 2009 by
This is the time of year when online advent ‘calendars’ spring to life. As a web designer/developer, I don’t mean those nice pictorial calendars that we give to children but instead websites that publish an article a day for the first 24 days of December. Here are three that are aimed at geeks, developers, or web designers.
Attribute selectors for image styles
03 December 2009 by
I have been reading several articles recently, and reminding myself, about attribute selectors. In case you’re wondering, attribute selectors in your style sheet allow you to style an element based on an attribute and value. This means that you can set-up style rules without the need to add class names to your (X)HTML. Cool! For example, you could style all external links by using a selector that targets the href attribute and matches any href value beginning with “http”.
Advice for web design freelancers about prices
26 November 2009 by
As a freelance web designer/developer, deciding on your pricing structure is pretty important. Get this right and your business has a much better chance of survival… and you might even be able to go on holiday now and again! I think it’s important to review your business regularly and pricing is one part of that. Here are a few tips about pricing from my own experience as a freelancer in the UK.
How to write better website copy
12 November 2009 by
Would you like your website to perform better? Do you want people to buy more of your product from it? or attract a higher number of sales leads?
Seeing more clearly with CSS opacity
09 November 2009 by
I have been trying to use some different CSS properties in recent style sheets and one of these is the opacity property. It’s quite easy to use and can give you a sophisticated effect where one element shows through another. Hey, what’s not to like!? Unfortunately, we need to apply a few Internet Explorer fixes but they are also relatively easy to implement (even if they look a bit complicated).
Some simple productivity tips for busy freelancers
27 October 2009 by
I went through a period last year when I was snowed under with work. That should be a good thing but if you are running your own web business, working from home, or freelancing from an office, getting everything done when you are in this situation can be quite stressful. I was the only person doing the work, answering telephone calls and emails, chasing up clients for payment, trying to keep in touch with the latest CSS methods, and an assortment of other daily administration tasks that I needed to do. Sometimes it felt like I was on a merry-go-round and could not get off.
See how a top designer and copy writer redesign the CannyBill website
19 October 2009 by
Have you ever wanted to get more insight into the thinking behind a website redesign? I know I have. Well, there's an interesting open design process happening at the moment with the redesign of the CannyBill website.
13 October 2009 by
My favourite software at the moment
06 October 2009 by
Most software works great and does the job it was intended for. However, every once in a while I come across a programme that just seems to be perfectly thought out and that is a joy to use. Invariable the programme or software make me more efficient but, most of the time, it’s the way the programme works that elevates it above its rivals. Anyway, here’s a few programmes that I am liking a lot at the moment.
New web standards books from Zeldman and Budd
30 September 2009 by
There are new editions of Designing with Web Standards by Jeffery Zeldman and CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions by Andy Budd coming along in the next few months
Blockquotes and CSS styling
23 September 2009 by
I have been busy with a new website that includes several customer comments about the business in question. That’s great but how should I code it? In this case, I thought it would be best to use the <blockquote> tag/element in my HTML. If you don’t use this tag, you should because it’s really quite useful both as a meaningful way of marking up your content and as a tag that you can style. I also decided to use the cite element. Normally, I include the <cite> tag within the <blockquote> and wrap it round the name of the person who made the comment/quote.
Tips to help make your website more mobile-friendly
15 September 2009 by
This is not a comprehensive article about developing a mobile device strategy for your website. It’s simply some tips that are based on a couple of things that I have implemented recently so that this blog is more easily viewable on mobile or cell phones. In my case, I am assessing each of my personal websites in order to determine whether I want to make them more mobile-friendly. If Yes, my plan is that I will not be creating separate mobile websites but will be optimising the existing websites.
Info: There are several mobile device website strategies that you may consider [including the option of doing nothing]. Cameron Moll’s Mobile Web Book is a good place to start if you want to know more.
Interviewed for The Web Design Blog
10 September 2009 by
Fellow UK web designer Phil Matthews recently asked me to answer a few questions as part of an interview series on The Web Design Blog.
How I got into the web industry
01 September 2009 by
I have been thinking about career paths and jobs recently [perhaps as a result of these video interviews with famous web folks] because it seems that many people in the web industry have taken an interesting route into their current careers. I’m not sure how interesting my own career path is but it is perhaps more different than most. Here it is…
The CSS Anthology from Sitepoint
25 August 2009 by
The third edition of The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Trick and Hacks by Rachel Andrew is now available from Sitepoint.
Using advanced CSS selectors
18 August 2009 by
There's a good article called Taming Advanced CSS Selectors by Inayaili de León on the Smashing Magazine website.
CSS Tip: Placing text on top of an image
12 August 2009 by
The other day, I needed to add a strap line or caption on top of an image. Yes, I can do this in an image editor like Photoshop or Fireworks but I wanted to compare an alternative method using CSS. The CSS method also has the advantage that the text will be read by search engines. Anyway, here's how I chose to to do it.
Please start from the beginning....
04 August 2009 by
Ryan Taylor has been producing a series of video interviews with famous web folks for a few months. The series is called Please Start from the Beginning.
Rotate text with CSS
30 July 2009 by
Jonathan Snook published an interesting blog post recently where he described text rotation with CSS.
It's time to stop supporting Internet Explorer 6, surely?
27 July 2009 by
Just now, I fired up an old Windows 98 PC to look at a recent website amendment in Internet Explorer 6. That means using a PC that is approximately eight years old to view my website in a browser of a similar age. How ridiculous is that?
Web fonts make progress
21 July 2009 by
There has been quite a lot of progress on the subject of web fonts in recent months. Rather than sticking to a core set of web-safe fonts, web designers might soon be able to use a much wider range, by choosing one of several new methods. Here's a short summary of recent developments.
13 July 2009 by
There’s a common newspaper and print layout method where the text of an article is arranged over several columns. This makes the article easer to read and looks quite nice visually. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this with CSS? Well, in fact this is perfectly possible using the multi-column layout module that is part of the CSS3 specification. Whilst browser support for this is patchy, the module is now approaching candidate recommendation status, and the method can still be implemented using proprietary but well-supported CSS rule prefixes like
Handcrafted CSS - a new book from that Bulletproof Web Design guy
03 July 2009 by
Handcrafted CSS: More Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm and Ethan Marcotte is a new book [and DVD] due in August.
Aligning your CSS properties .... and using a few different ones
24 June 2009 by
Well, that was a slight surprise. I looked at the visitors statistics for this blog yesterday and discovered that more than 70% of you are not using Internet Explorer.
Why web standards should be important to clients
22 June 2009 by
There's a nice summary of the benefits of web standards in an article called Tell your clients why web standards should matter to them on the That Web Guy Blog.
Clearing floats with the overflow property
18 June 2009 by
Using the float property is a fundamental part of the tools that we use as web designers/developers when wrangling with CSS. Floating an image is probably one of the most common tasks when we want to align the image either left or right within a containing block [div or paragraph]. However, use of the float property comes with its own problems and chief amongst these is that often we need to ‘clear the float’ so that other elements [often the element that contains the floated element] behave in the way that we want. Here’s a method I have used recently.
jQuery for Designers
13 June 2009 by
Sitting on a Perch
05 June 2009 by
This week has seen the launch of a new website content management system [CMS] called Perch from web development agency edgeofmyseat. It promises to be an interesting CMS because it is intended to be a small system that you can set-up quickly on an existing website.
Yes, yes, I know that a larger CMS like WordPress or Textpattern [two of my favourites] are often the ‘solutions’ that are suggested when the subject of client website updates are discussed but, equally, not everyone wants a system like that for small website changes. I am thinking of small business brochure-type websites here. In these cases, Perch may be just the job.
Learning more about CSS
29 May 2009 by
Articles about unfamiliar or new CSS techniques are great for expanding your CSS knowledge and there’s always the chance that you will need to use the methods in a client’s project. Here are a couple of CSS methods that I saw recently. Why not try one of these or something else new in your website projects?
Universal style sheet for Internet Explorer 6
22 May 2009 by
Andy Clarke has written an interesting blog post called Universal Internet Explorer 6 CSS where he advocates the use of a stripped down style sheet [similar to a print style sheet in some ways] that is directed at IE6 users.
Web typography and font stacks
21 May 2009 by
I have been reading more about typography on the web since I went to Skillswap Goes Typographic earlier this year. Richard Rutter has put together a good summary of the event and the slides from his and Jon Tan‘s presentations are well worth reading. Despite some advances with web fonts or font embedding and other methods for displaying and using different fonts in websites, many web designers and front-end developers stick with a core set of fonts and specify these using a font stack in their website style sheets.
Twitter client that rocks!
14 May 2009 by
Twitter has a web interface but the immediacy of the service is kinda lost [and it's pretty inconvenient] if you have to refresh the Twitter website every few minutes.
HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions: A Web Standardistas' Approach
08 May 2009 by
HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions is a book that teaches you how to build websites using web standards via a stepwise and thorough grounding in the basics of XHTML and CSS. It explains the fundamentals of well-structured XHTML and follows that with the creation of style sheets and modern CSS methods for layout and presentation. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on hand coding to build semantic markup and efficient CSS. If you are new to websites or web standards, this would be a great book to start with. I strongly recommend this book and the approach it takes.
Looking at grids for layout
05 May 2009 by
Over the last few days, I have been reading up in more detail on the use of grids for website layout. Using a grid does not mean that your design will look ‘all boxy’ [for example, you can still have curved corner shaped elements] but means that the layout elements on your page are placed according to an accurately measured grid.
Bamboo Juice at the Eden Project
27 April 2009 by
Last week, I went to the Bamboo Juice web conference which was held at the Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall. If you have not been there before, the Eden Project is definitely worth a visit and it provided a unique venue and backdrop to the conference itself. Luckily, I have some friends with a hotel in Bude, so it was a no-brainer for me to visit them at the same time. Excellent! Anyway, here’s my quick review of the conference….
Make your own podcasts with Huffduffer
21 April 2009 by
I often discover audio files on the web that I just don’t have time to listen to at the time. What I need is an easy mechanism of saving them so that I can listen later. I think I have found the website that does just that.
Table layouts compared with CSS layouts
15 April 2009 by
There's a good article over at Smashing Magazine called Table Layouts vs. Div Layouts: From Hell to… Hell? which discusses the pros and cons of different website layout methods.
Thoughts on Twitter
07 April 2009 by
I have not really said much about Twitter since I joined a few months ago. Overall, I have found it to be useful, entertaining, addictive, and it has helped keep me ‘in the loop’ much more than I expected. Here are a few of my experiences and thoughts so far.
Three Adobe Air applications for simple image editing
30 March 2009 by
These days, simple image editing does not need a copy of Photoshop on your PC/Mac because there are more and more free image editing applications that run on the Adobe Air cross-platform runtime. Of course, for heavy duty image work, you may still need Fireworks or Photoshop but for simple tasks a free image editing application may be just what you [or your clients] need. Here are three that I discovered recently.
Sexy Web Design by Elliot Jay Stocks
20 March 2009 by
A new book from Sitepoint hit the shelves this week. Sexy Web Design by Elliot Jay Stocks is “an easy-to-follow guide that reveals the secrets of how to build your own breathtaking web interfaces from scratch.
Web standards anyone?
19 March 2009 by
A few years ago I attended and reported a Web Standards Group London meeting where Andy Budd gave an interesting presentation about web standards, including why he thought that the web standards ‘war’ [or promotion of web standards] had reached a ‘tipping point’ [the ‘war’ was won], and why modern web designers and developers should be focusing more on other areas like usability. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Vertical centering with CSS
08 March 2009 by
Aligning an element so that is is vertically centered should be something that is quite easy but CSS makes it more difficult than it should be!
Flexible Web Design by Zoe Mickley Gillenwater
04 March 2009 by
I know that I usually create fixed width website layouts with CSS and it's relatively recently that I started experimenting a bit with liquid and elastic layouts.
Organising website content sensibly
21 February 2009 by
We were asked to design a new website for The Professional Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine for 2009. The new website launched last week.
Interesting links this week
15 February 2009 by
We often come across new applications and web stuff. In no particular order, here’s a few interesting links that we found this week.
Lovely Charts is a free online diagramming application that looks very easy to use. Check out the screencast for a demo. If you regularly create diagrams like wireframes, flow charts, site maps, and organisational charts, this might be the online application for you.
HTML, CSS and Web Standards. What more could you want?!
08 February 2009 by
Whilst searching Amazon for books about CSS [as you do], I came across HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions: A Web Standardistas’ Approach by Christopher Murphy and Nicklas Persson. I must admit I have not seen this book before and it looks like one that I should have in my collection.
The book is from Friends of Ed who normally publish very good web design and development books. I have a few other books from Friends of Ed and they are well worth it.
Three image slide show scripts using jQuery
03 February 2009 by
Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG2) explained
27 January 2009 by
WCAG2 are an update for the original WCAG1 accessibility guidelines. In fact, the original initiative was published in 1999 and the finalization of WCAG2 at the end of 2008 was well overdue. However, although this is a worthy initiative, I have found it hard to digest and understand the new version because it is a very long document [even though the authors have tried to help with an Understanding WCAG2 document].
Add a query string to your style sheet link for cache busting
21 January 2009 by
I was looking at the UX London website recently and I noticed that their CSS files are referenced with a query string like this.
Reviewing your personal websites
16 January 2009 by
If you are like me, you may run or manage several personal websites in addition to those that you create or manage for paying clients. I like to review the personal stuff every year just to make sure that my master plan for Internet world domination is working. Only kidding! However, it is still useful to review your personal websites and these are the points I normally consider during the review process.
Note: You may have different goals but the objectives of my review are to determine whether to continue with each website and assess how much work might be required during the year.
Browser statistics and Internet Explorer 6 usage
09 January 2009 by
Six months ago, I collated browser usage statistics for a personal website and reported that Internet Explorer 6 hangs on. I have repeated the exercise for the 6 months ending 10th December 2008 and here’s my update. The overall summary is that IE6 usage is still quite high and is only showing a slow decline.
Joining Twitter late
06 January 2009 by
I must admit I did not understand the Twitter thing at first. However, after seeing more and mentions on TV recently, I've decided to join and see what's going on that I might be missing