Archive for the ‘Blog Design’ Category
Ben Bleikamp, a respected designer and interesting writer has posted his reasonings for ignoring your blogs, and quite simply it is because you aren’t showing your best content.
I browse through 100 blogs a day. I subscribe to 51. That means that when I read your blog I forget about it. Itâ€™s your fault. You havenâ€™t proved to me that youâ€™re providing valuable content on a regular basis.Making the front page of Digg is great for your page views but how often does it provide a significant jump in the number of people subscribing to your blog? Making the front page of these social news sites is worthless if you donâ€™t have a way to show new visitors what your best content is.
Check out his full reasonings and even some tips and solutions on his blog.
Smashing Magazine has put together a large list of CSS tips and tricks from some great people, including Jonathan Snook, whom I look up to.
CSS isnâ€™t always easy to deal with. Depending on your skills and your experience, CSS coding can sometimes become a nightmare, particularly if you arenâ€™t sure which selectors are actually being applied to document elements. An easy way to minimize the complexity of the code is as useful as not-so-well-known CSS attributes and properties you can use to create a semantically correct markup.
Weâ€™ve taken a close look at some of the most interesting and useful CSS tricks, tips, ideas, methods, techniques and coding solutions and listed them below. We also included some basic techniques you can probably use in every project you are developing, but which are hard to find once you need them.
A great list of tricks and tips. I don’t agree with all of them, but I think that like most coding methodologies it depends on the purpose, and the coder. Still, a list worth bookmarking.
One of the hardest parts of design can be picking out a proper color scheme for the design. Some designers use photos, others use their understanding of color theory to pick out that perfect palette and then there are people like me that need others to help get the right colors to go together. Over on ColorSchemes.org there is a great list of links for those looking for help in their color quest.
It includes online tools, software you can download, websites that will help you pick out the right scheme, and information on techniques.
If you are constantly designing and redesigning, this resource might just help you figure out what shades of blue to use.
Icons can sometimes be the difference between a nice looking theme and a plain looking one, as we continue to try to create new designs for WordPress blogs, and other blogging software, we increasingly need new icons to give it that extra edge.
DHTML Site has compiled a list of free icon resources, and while not all encompassing, it does highlight some of the best sources for icons that you can use for your theming needs.
The most popular, of course is the Silk Icon set, but I think people are slowly trying not to use it in part because of its high popularity. Or in other words, people are sick of seeing a million sites with the same icon set. I thought the Sweetie set looked really nice.
If you have any other great collections of free to use icons, please let me know. I’d love to find more icon resources.
An amazing article over on Digital Web Magazine caught my eye, as most of their articles do, called Redesigning the ExpressionEngine Site. If you hadn’t noticed, their site got a big overhaul in design, and this article gives you a complete rundown of how it came to be. I love these types of articles as it shows the creative process, as well as gives some great design tips.
I started the project with the ExpressionEngine home page, because this is arguably their most important presence on the web. I also knew that if I could get the layout for ExpressionEngine to work, I could apply it to the other sites relatively easily, as their content wasnâ€™t as challenging to organize and design.
Check out the full article, and please let me know if you have any other links to design process overviews.
Chris Pearson is a designer I really respect, and recently he has given another tip out that while some keen web developers might know, most people playing around with editing themes, might not. It is that the changes you make could be put in a special custom file so you don’t have to re-change the included CSS file with a theme, each time it is updated.
Whenever one of your favorite theme frameworks is updated, you have to identify the new changes, re-implement your CSS mods, and then move ahead from there. That might not sound so bad, but I know there are tons of you out there who make hundreds of modifications. Suddenly, that molehill really is a mountain.
Are you sure you want to keep spinning your wheels every time a new version of your preferred framework is updated? What you need, my friend, is a futureproof, bulletproof means of protecting your CSS mods so that you can ride the wave of agile development without the associated headache from upgrading!
Check out Pearsonified for all the details.
Frontpage is being replaced by a new project called Expression Web.
Expression Web will hopefully do more with web standards and XML, XHTML and style-sheets, CSS and XSLT.
Q. How does Expression Web compare to Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 and Visual Studio as a Web design/development tool?
A. Expression Web is a new product for professional Web designers that combines the best of both FrontPage and Visual Studio technologies in a new user interface for creating XHTML, CSS, XML, XSLT, and ASP.NET 2.0. Where appropriate, the user interface and features of Expression Web and Visual Studio are identical (such as for ASP.NET control properties).
I am not a big fan of WYSIWYG developments, but if it seems like they gave Expression Web a bit more thought, and there is a built in panel that will test webpages for CSS and HTML compliance.
Funny though that Internet Explorer still has problems with compliance.
Jonathan Snook is an accomplished programmer, and while he doesn’t consider himself a designer, his designs are something I am very envious of.
He lays out some tips that he tries to keep in mind when doing a design:
1. Make it bigger.
2. Make it closer to the top of the page.
3. Make it a different colour.
4. Use a different font.
5. Give it breathing room.
Check out the full post, including his thoughts behind each point at his blog, Snook.ca.
Over on BrainFuel, there are some tips for those looking to design a website which of course applies to creating a design for a blog.
He mentions things like typography, content density, dealing with the details, and whitespace.
I, personally, have trouble with typography. It is not my strong suit, and I know it, but BrainFuel recommends making sure that the type that you chose is not being made to look better thanks to settings like strong, sharp, and whatnot, as your HTML presentation of such text may not look as nice, so test it out in web browsers before you call it a day.
Check out BrainFuel for more on his other tips.
It looks like four seconds is considered the average cut-off mark now for getting something readable on the screen of your visitors, before they stop waiting and move on, so optimizing your site is ever more important, even with the adoption of broadband around the world, you still need to make sure your site can be downloaded, and rendered in under that four second window, or who knows how many potential visitors your blog is loosing out on.
Akamai and JupiterResearch recently ran a study dealing with e-commerce sites to find this four second conclusion, but that does not mean that the statistic isn’t also useful to us blog operators.
Based on the feedback of 1,058 online shoppers that were surveyed during the first half of 2006, JupiterResearch offers the following analysis:
- The consequences for an online retailer whose site underperforms include diminished goodwill, negative brand perception, and, most important, significant loss in overall sales.
- Online shopper loyalty is contingent upon quick page loading, especially for high-spending shoppers and those with greater tenure.
Like I mentioned, this translates over to bloggers as well, as we continue to add widgets, flash objects, multimedia, and call objects from other sites, like stats scripts and flickr photo streams. We have to realize that adding too much to our site takes away from the user experience. If I am on your blog, and it takes too long to load, I won’t care how great your content is.
And don’t think because you have the fastest DSL, Cable or Fibre to the home connection on the block that everyone has those kind of connection speeds.
Some quick tips include:
Optimize your images and image sizes. Lowering the quality of your images by ten, twenty, or even thirty percent can greatly reduce loading times, without really making a noticeable change of appearance.
Never use a Bitmap (BMP) on your site. (I know this seems like common sense to some, but I have seen it more than once.) Learn about JPG’s, GIF’s, and PNG’s.
Limit the amount of items you load from remote servers and services. If your site is to display the latest YouTube videos, I can’t help you, but do you really need your Flickr photo stream on every page? In WordPress a simple is_home() conditional statement will make it only appear on your index page.
First impressions count, so what are you doing to better your users experience?