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Rather Large Resources List [08 Jun 2005|11:13am]
I made a wiki document for my own designers that I thought I'd share. Editing out the unapplicable, internal bits :)

Validation, standards, and resources for processCollapse )

IA, User Experience, Interaction Design, UsabilityCollapse )

Color resourcesCollapse )

Fonts and special charactersCollapse )

CSS goodiesCollapse )
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[05 May 2005|04:53pm]

Hello everyone. I was hoping one of you could help me. You see i'm in the process of making a website for my magazine that i will one day make. The thing is that i signed up for free acount with hostdepartment and even though they have this step by step thing i still have NO IDEA what i'm doing. Can anyone help me or give me advice? I really don't know anything about this stuff. Anything will help!!
4 comments|post comment

*CPR* [04 May 2005|12:33pm]
Anyone have some favorite design books? Sites? Etc.?

I'm reading a stack, and I like them all, though mostly geared towards usability more than graphic design, so I'm not sure how interested everyone is:
  • Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug. "A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability"
  • "The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. "Design" is used as a really general word and can apply to everything from industrial design to software engineering and any sort of user interface design. User psychology is interesting :)
  • Designing Web Usability is like "Don't Make Me Think" in many ways, but is a much dryer read and goes into technical constraints and examples more, so far.

I'm also gearing up to read the O'Reilly Information Architecture text and Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards. Those O'Reilly books are really be best tech resources around. (Highly recommend their CSS pocket references, even if you are leet shit and think you know the W3C specs by heart). Also interested in the The Zen of CSS - has anyone read this?
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hello [17 Mar 2005|04:03pm]

hello my name is Indira, I was wondering if anyone had paint shop pro nine and if so can someone help me do graphics and such, or how to use it basically?

well thanks in advanced
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How To Get a Job in Webdesign [01 Feb 2005|07:42am]
Someone asked me how to get a job in webdesign and I figured my reply to them should probably go here as well:

The people who actually want sites made don't hang out online, and the people who are actually designing sites are no help at all. If you want to network and get a local job, it's got to be done offline, primarily. Depending on what you're going for (freelance vs. full-time webmaster), you'll want to present your portfolio as such.

People wanting one-off sites seem to really like portfolios that describe themselves as a do-it-all business, and if you go that route, you'll really want to partner up with a web developer with mad PHP/ASP skills do finish the rest of that "all" sentence. Business owners typically don't have the first frickin clue about what they really want for their site, so if you present yourself as someone who can help them through the conceptual/planning phases, they'll eat you up.

Full-time webmaster-type positions can be trickier, since a good deal of them hire internally before looking outside. If you present yourself as an individual who knows how to work inside an environment with templates, dreamweaver (barf), flash, and every other web development tool under the sun, they'll figure you have a head start on catching up to whatever infastructure they have in place. It's also pretty important that they know your experience in working on a team and doing collaborative work with tight deadlines, pissy clients, and other difficult scenarios.

In any event, use your youth as an advantage to sell yourself (and no, selling yourself isn't an annoying show-offy thing to do) - you're a faster learner than us oldies, you're very impressionable and not set on doing a task a certain way, you're generally more enthusiastic about work, and you've got your finger on the pulse of the web so you know what's up. If someone *truly* discriminates against you because of age, you can land them in hot water if you wanted to - just like sex, race, handicap, sexual orientation or political/religious affiliation, discriminating against someone due to age is a huge legal no-no for hiring managers. What they *can* do is decline your application because you don't have the proper work permits in place, so if you get that look, give em the "youth = great" speech and remember to include the important bit about having your paperwork squared away.
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Adobe Vs Macromedia [22 Sep 2004|11:53am]

Okay so I've been thinking about what sort of products to get and I believe, currently, I would like a web graphics program, a vector/illustrations program and a html editor that connects the two previous programs together. So the two main companies that deal with complete publishing are Adobe and Macromedia.

I've never had Macromedia products before apart from in ICT at school when we had to use FreeHand for a graphics project. I just wanted some help as to what you think would be the best option for an amateur designer?
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x [14 Sep 2004|03:05pm]

Hey! Well, to get straight to the point...I am looking for some help. I am creating a website to help promote my new book coming out as well as my other writings. However, I am having a difficult time trying to figure out what should be there and how to make it look professional. The sites address is http://www.JessicaHM.com Please check it out and let me know what you think should be added. Thanks for your time and effort!! ♥
1 comment|post comment

Sneek Peek [10 Sep 2004|02:50pm]
I know some people are interested in seeing some of my business portfolio. I have some screencaps of things I've designed so far uploaded to LJ for now: http://pics.livejournal.com/divadrummer/gallery/00008xc4

I can't decide on a domain name for my resume and portfolio. Not that I'm looking to switch employers anytime soon, but my boss does want me to make one to attract more clients for us. Any ideas? LaurenHutchison.com is way too long, and no one ever spells Hutchison right. I like L-Hut.com, but it doesn't seem too professional.

I'm also a bit skittish about assembling a portfolio, since I have absolutely no traditional art or graphic design to put in it (because I'm not really a visual artist), just UI/Web stuff, a list of projects I coded but didn't design, and some code samples. It seems sparce. I'm not sure what else to put in there.
3 comments|post comment

The Importance of Using Proper Practice [10 Aug 2004|11:19pm]
[ mood | anxious ]

Let me clarify here what is poor practice: poor practice is using code that functions only in a particular browser and has not been universally defined as compulsary inclusive for all new browsers. Poor practice includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • coloured scrollbars (illegal code)
  • text filters such as glow text, dropshadow text and alpha opacity (also illegal code)
  • image maps
  • iframes (!)
  • javascript

There is literally a heap of Internet Explorer-specific code that doesn't work in other commonly-used browsers like Netscape and Firefox. Some code just doesn't show up, but some causes horrible page errors like offset of positioning or makes the page unintelligable.

It's worth checking that what you want to do is legal code, or universally visable, and if not, what the effect will be on people using other browsers. If you want your site to be visable to as many people as possible, you need to cut back on the bad coding practice. It isn't fair just to say "well everyone should use Internet Explorer" because some people can't, or don't want to. You have to accomodate them.

It isn't hard to find out what is and isn't illegal. The site you found the code on will probably tell you itself, if not, try checking at http://calidator.w3c.org. If you can't find out then, ask a fellow webdesigner, and if you still don't know, just don't use it. There are legal ways of doing everything, bar javascript and text filters, that I've listed up there and any other things that might be necessary to the function of your page. If there isn't an alternative, the code isn't necessary. 99% of people shouldn't be using text filters, anyway, they almost always look terrible.

Iframes are a personal pet peeve of mine. Regular frames require little more effort and make the page function more cleanly in most browsers, yet most people use Iframes. Don't do it. I feel as passionately about this as about people who can't spell. They might even work in most browsers, I don't know, I just hate them anyway.

Using javascript is a design choice. There are benefits to using javascript because it enables you to do things you can't do with HTML or CSS. However, some people don't have it enabled in their browsers. You should provide an alternative to your page or at least a warning if it contains javascript for these people if you do decide to use it ever. I would suggest, though, that frequently the cons outweight the pros. Flash sites, again, are a design choice. You can do very impressive things with Flash, but it isn't accessible to everyone. While using javascript and Flash limits your accessibility and annoys me, it is excusable in the same way that coding sloppily is not since there is no HTML alternative. Using sloppy HTML is not a design choice, it is a choice to be lazy.

But Mary, you've used coloured scrollbars here!
Indeed I have. I made a design choice, knowing that coloured scrollbars just won't show up in most browsers but won't cause funky errors in most, either. It's just something that only I.E. can see, but, I'd like to emphasise, as divadrummer said to me: whether it can see coloured scrollbars or not is not good criteria for choosing a browser.

I hope somebody who actually needs to read any of this stuff joins.

- Mary (foetusinfetu)
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The Obligitory Introduction Thread [09 Aug 2004|07:00pm]
Hullo! I'm Lauren, a professional web/graphic designer-type from Eugene, Oregon. Right now, I'm working as a designer for a company, so I'm behind a desk working on HTML/XSL/CSS or making buttons in Photoshop 40 hours a week. A good deal of it is making new designs for existing web software, so it involves lots of making buttons and a little light programming/tweaking in the underlying XSL. All of my pro portfolio, right now, consists of designs for huge web applications and not many simple websites. Once I have enough to put in there, I'll post the URL and you guys can take a look.

Up until very recently, I ran divadrummer.com and had great success making a name for myself with that. I had a blog with a loyal readership and a few content-driven shrines, galleries, fanlistings, and cliques for animes and games. So, I'm pretty familiar with all sorts of tricks to set those up. I've installed and configured Ikonboard, Invisionboard, PHPFanbase, Wordpress, Moveable Type, Greymatter, 4Images Gallery, and a billion other little stuff, and am quite comfortable with PHP include and making templates (one file for all your layout code!). So if anyone ever needs help (I'll regret this later) installing any PHP/CGI-thingy, I can probably help. I don't do personal websites anymore, because I just have no time for it, but I do have fun making style and code tweaks to my LiveJournal, so I can usually offer some help there too.

I got started in design 3 years ago because I moved away from home and wanted to have a place to upload pictures and newsletters for my friends and family back in California to read. I obviously have a lot to say about everything, so it grew into a lot more than that very quickly. I was introduced to the "gamer girl" online community by my husband and was inspired by some of the beautiful sites I saw, and with my competitive flair, jumped on it right away and learned how to do things outside of a sitebuilder with Frontpage and eventually, after much source-code-examination, with HTML and CSS.

CSS is my first love. If CSS were a man, I would be all over him like white on rice. I believe tables and iframes become mostly useless when you know your CSS and can do everything in divs. I believe it's so cool and elegant to put everything in your CSS and then just change the CSS when you want to change your layout, or to disable your CSS entirely and have blind people or text-browser people still be able to check out your site.

I use Firefox as my primary browser, so all of my designs work in Mozilla, Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. It's not hard to learn how to do that, you just have to put aside your pride and colored scrollbars. It was a big step and a big admission of "I'm a hack," but once that hurdle was over and I started really taking a close look at my code and reading up on web standards, I made a mental list of my bad habbits and forced myself out of them. IF YOU WANT TO BE A PROFESSIONAL WEBDESIGNER, THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSARY STEP FOR YOU. Don't fool yourself thinking that your employers will be OK with a design that doesn't work in Netscape or Mozilla, because while they only make up about 5% of net surfers, for a company that could mean you're ostricizing millions of potential customers. For personal sites, I don't insist that anyone use web-standard coding, but don't expect me to give you a nice review. It's still good to practice proper coding practices, even for small personal sites and such, because...well..why the hell not, especially if you know how?

I've got a few favorite resources for you:

  • http://alistapart.com will teach you how to do things with CSS that you only thought were possible with javascript and tables and stuff. If there's a way to substitute your nasty code nightmares with CSS, alistapart has it listed.
  • http://www.w3schools.com/ has great, plain-english tutorials on how to do advanced code-y stuff. HTML/CSS/XHTML/XSL/etc.
  • http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/tidy/ cleans up your code for you and closes your unclosed tags, adds all the little stuff that we always forget to put in.
  • http://validator.w3.org/ checks the code of your page to see if you put anything weird in, left out quotes, closed things in the wrong order, etc.

The biggest pieces of advice I have to offer to aspiring designers, or any artists, seeking a primary-income job like mine is:
1.) Be prepared to have no artistic license on occasion. Often times, clients will know exactly what they want, and will hold you to it. Don't waste their money by making something else that you think is better, only to have them reject it later, unless they give you permission to do so. Sometimes, they want you to make something ugly, and you just have to swallow that. If you can't handle artistic differences, then don't do web/graphic design professionally, or go freelance if you can afford to pick-and-choose your projects.
2.) Be prepared to be creative on demand. It's not as easy as it sounds. Making designs when you're inspired to do so is second nature to most of us. Wen someone wants you to make a design for a borring thing like a quarterly report and have it done in one day, it's not so easy. If you don't think you can handle this, then you may want to stick to webdesign as a hobby or second income.

Kudos to anyone who read through all that - dilligence is a necessary trait for aspiring designers, too!
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About Phil [09 Aug 2004|10:17pm]

Hi, I'm Phil. I'm 17 and reside in the north-west of England, although more originally come from Norfolk. I'm not actually wonderfully good at making weblayouts, although I can do most anything with a bit of html. I do like seeing nice layouts though =) I use Paint Shop Pro, which seems to be much rarer these days amongst webdesigners, who all use Photoshop. I do have Dreamweaver and Fireworks on my side though. I can animate anything ;) Oh, and I'm the king of alpha-transparency(layer opacity) and circular 'fade-out' gradient fills, the two layout tools most dear to my heart =D I suck with anything else though.

I'm a big anime fan, and I like to play various video games, contemplate infinities, and eat peanut butter. No friends, no life, one phat pipe (broadband connection for all you... 'normal' people). What more could one need?
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Mary's Websites [09 Aug 2004|09:43pm]
[ mood | amused ]

Here is a list of websites I currently maintain:

  • My Collective
    This site contains some personal information, links to other websites, provides a central point for all of my sites to link back to and gives me a disassociate website to make layouts of basically whatever I want for.
  • Bewitching
    A shrine to Lulu of Final Fantasy X. Some of the content is a joke because I find making straight-up shrines to be pretty boring nowadays. I've been there, done that and been bored of all the generic content.
  • The Butterfly Effect
    A media tribute to Muse. This is something I can throw wallpapers and stuff at when I feel like making a wallpaper, but it isn't just random wallpapers so I know that the people who are visiting the site will be interested in the things I make because they relate to an interest of theirs.

Feel free to post links to your websites or digital art.

- Mary (foetusinfetu)
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About Anika [09 Aug 2004|08:10pm]

[ mood | impressed ]

Hi, my name is Anika, I'm 16 and live in the UK. I've been interested in web design for about three years now and I must say that it is a very fun and fulfilling hobby. I've been through many phases of webdesign ranging from all the trends, swirl brushes, the occasional venture into 'grunge', the now infamous square period and the compulsory newbie designer complete with auto-play midis.

I'm interested in lots of things creative like art, writing and music. I love music and spend most of my income (or lack of) on CDs. I also watch a fair amount of television, play video games, shop and talk with my friends. I have a guinea pig called CoCo and she is so sweet, albeit, slightly anorexic (I'm indeed worried about her). I like the rain, love Winter and hate Summer and the heat it brings.

- Anika (sneekapeek)

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About Mary [09 Aug 2004|08:00pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

I'm a sixteen year-old girl living in England with my parents and brother. I have no pets. I enjoy webdesign and have run several sites over the past six years, some of which are still online, others of which aren't. I went through a few really bad design phases, and I know how easy it is to fall into a trap of wanting to impress people without thinking about whether what you're doing is actually good design.

I also spend time learning the guitar and listening to music. I don't watch much television, but I enjoy films. I have a few close friends over a lot of casual acquaintances and my favourite colour is purple.

- Mary (foetusinfetu)

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General Design Tips: The Three Commandments [09 Aug 2004|07:20pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

The key to design is making your site look aesthetically pleasing, colours that don't clash, etc. and making it accessable and readable. All the impressive glow text filters and funky navigation stuff come secondary to the first aim. If it makes it hard to read your text or find your way around your site, then it has to go.

1. Make your text readable.

  • Dark text against a plain light background is the easiest to read. Failing this, make your text light against a dark background. Don't use patterns as backgrounds. Make sure there are at least four shades between the two colours, and don't choose colours that clash and cause screen glare.
  • Dropshadows and glow text filters often make your text hard to read. Even more often than that it just looks like you're trying too hard to impress people without thinking about the way it fits into your layout.
  • No one likes to read tiny, tiny fonts. They're really cute, they're really trendy, and they're really going to make people short-sighted. Font size should be at least 8pt unless you...
  • Take advantage of the fact that you can set a line height. Don't scrunch your text up. Make the line height around 1.5 times the size of the font and it will make reading it so much easier, especially if you're using a small font.
  • Don't use really horrible fonts like times new roman, especially if they're small. It looks nasty to most people, and even if you like it, it's hard to read. A rounded font like tahoma, verdana or arial is much easier to read and looks a lot nicer in most cases.
  • Don't use fonts that don't come with Windows. If people don't have your font then the text will show up in times new roman, or, even worse, gibberish. If you're using an obscure font, even a relatively common one like redensek, provide a download link, or make sure there's a backup in the CSS that defaults the font to tahoma or something if the original font is unavailable.

2. Keep your site navigable.

  • Name the links to pages after the pages they're going to, or make it clear which pages they link to. No one wants to see a linkslist that says "Night Blossom, Day Blossom, Moon Child" and find that it leads to your Mum's page about dogs, your friend's page about chronic diarrhoea and your blog. If you have to name your links weird things, make sure you have a TITLE tag or a byline that states their destination.
  • Make sure the navigation is in an easy place to find. Tiny squares in the upper-left corner of the screen that are dark blue against a black background aren't doing anybody any favours. You want people to read your content, people want to read your content. Let's give everybody what they want.
  • Don't have any broken links. They're frustrating and they really make your site look unprofessional. Make sure all your links within a site lead to an actual page.
  • Link everything to the homepage, or the page with the navigation on it. People need to be able to find the navigation to be able to navigate: this should be obvious, but some people seem to like to test their visitors' navigation skills by scattering their links across several pages.

3. Don't blind your visitors.

  • Colour scheme is of the utmost importance. Maintain a healthy contrast between text colour and background but try to keep overall contrast to a minimum.
  • Opposites look good together, but certain shades can clash and cause horrible screen glare.
  • Very bright layouts really hurt people's eyes. Think about the way you are using bright yellows and oranges and try to minimise the glare produced.

- Mary (foetusinfetu)
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Resources [09 Aug 2004|06:51pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

Here is a list of links to helpful online resources pertaining to webdesign.

  • Lissa Explains
    Anyone who's just beginning webdesign should visit Lissa Explains. This is a relatively easy-to-use site that's aimed at helping children learn HTML, but is useful for anyone. All the basics are here, as well as some handy CSS-related tips and tricks which can help with design once you have all the components for making a webpage.
  • Webmonkey: The Web Developer's Resource
    This is a comprehensive website which deals with all levels of skill, there's more than just HTML here. The pages are helpfully sorted into Beginners, Builders and Masters depending on difficulty, but nothing here should be particularly hard. Things are explained step-by-step with not only how to do things, but also how they work. There's also a useful Quick Reference library.
  • The Javascript Source
    For anybody interested in encorporating javascript into a page, this is a handy first-stop. There are thousands of scripts that do all sorts of weird and wonderful things on this website, some are more useful than others. However, javascript is not enabled in all browsers and can cause some nasty errors, so if you want your site to be accessable to as many people as possible, it's worth weighing up pros and cons.
  • Cascading Style Sheets
    A good reference for Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS. This website includes a guide to CSS as well as a lot of information on how CSS works and how to use it properly.
  • Good-Tutorials.com
    A good resource for useful and interesting tutorials for those of you using Adobe Photoshop to design with. There are thousands of tutorials on how to vector using Photoshop and create various effects.
  • The Web Machine
    This is a website with various tutorials for a whole range of graphics programs, including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Worth checking out.
  • Online Colour Schemer
    I really can't stress to you the importance of using colours that don't clash in a layout. There is funky, and then there's aesthetic molestation. This is a handy resource for choosing colours that fit well together, and can be used as an RGB to Hex converter, if you need the hex code for a particular colour.

As suggested by divadrummer:

  • http://alistapart.com will teach you how to do things with CSS that you only thought were possible with javascript and tables and stuff. If there's a way to substitute your nasty code nightmares with CSS, alistapart has it listed.
  • http://www.w3schools.com/ has great, plain-english tutorials on how to do advanced code-y stuff. HTML/CSS/XHTML/XSL/etc.
  • http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/tidy/ cleans up your code for you and closes your unclosed tags, adds all the little stuff that we always forget to put in.
  • http://validator.w3.org/ checks the code of your page to see if you put anything weird in, left out quotes, closed things in the wrong order, etc.

I recommend adding this entry to your memories, since it's likely to be updated with more resources as time goes by.

- Mary (microcosma)
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Welcome to Naïve Design [09 Aug 2004|06:43pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

Welcome, everybody, to a new webdesign community co-founded by microcosma and sneekapeek, we hope you find your time here to be enjoyable. We set up this community to help people who are less experienced at webdesign than ourselves, but also, hopefully to be helped by people who are more experienced than us, too.

This isn't just a community for dry learning, though. Any "learning" is through application, learning about particular techniques and having your work critiqued and suggestions made on improvement or for future reference. As well as that, it's about expressing opinions on current design trends, talking about design in general and having fun with design. Feel free to attempt to befriend any and all members, although harassment is really not encouraged.

The most important thing is to relax and enjoy yourselves.

- Mary (foetusinfetu)

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