Category Archives: web design

Not Just Site Updates, There’s Paint, Too

You might notice the site looks even cleaner now, thanks to removing even more of the lines and opening up more white space. The bigger treat is how much more the galleries pop, thanks to a reworked display canvas and auto-dimming the chrome when you mouse into the gallery.

But that’s not all! I also still paint. See?!

Adding Blog Source to Post Title in Yahoo Pipes

So, I’ve just taken to Yahoo! Pipes. I’ve been looking for a good way to mashup a lot of local Indy arts blogs and some national ones into aggregated feeds so I can check fewer blogs and more easily share an entire scene with my friends, and Pipes lets me do that very quickly.

But, once I’d mashed a few blogs up together, I noticed that Pipes imported the right links back to the blogs, but only displayed them by their post title, with no original source indicator in sight. Not only was this confusing for me when reading the new feed, but if I share it with people it’s way uncool to not have proper source attribution inline with these posts. So, I went looking for how to add the post author to the title. For example, if the post was “Hi Ma! A Post” by Edgar Noname, I wanted my posts in the feed to be titled “Edgar Noname: Hi Ma! A Post”

Sounds simple and reasonable, yeah? I thought so too, but I couldn’t find a good tutorial on how to do just that. I did eventually piece the info together and got it working, and now I’m going to just go ahead and write the very tutorial I wish I’d had in case anyone else ever needs it. So here goes:

I’m going to assume you have a Pipes account, a knowledge of what it means to aggregate a feed from multiple RSS feeds, and that you know how to use Pipes on a basic level (Yahoo’s video is a good primer). If you’re still with me, let’s get going.


If Architects Had To Work Like Web Designers…

Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all the deficiencies that exist in my current house (the floor of my kitchen vibrates when I walk across it, and the walls don’t have nearly enough insulation in them).

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of extra-cost features like aluminum, vinyl, or composite siding. (If you choose not to specify aluminum, be prepared to explain your decision in detail.)

Please take care that modern design practices and the latest materials are used in construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be alerted, however, that kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1952 Gibson refrigerator.

+100 to Aud for finding this for me. I can;t believe A) I’ve never seen this the past seven years and B) it’s all still so true…

Read it all here.

5 Things I Wish I’d Learned About Web Design Sooner, part 3

Continued as part of a series:
part 1
part 2

So, in the last two installments I’ve talked about CSS, via overflow tricks and the 960 framework. Now, for the next several installments of things I wish I’d figured out sooner I need to shift gears to a different notion:

Javascript is not actually the devil.

Ever since I’ve been doing web design, javascript has been there, and the cool kids (or at least the want-to-be-cool kids) were using it to do javascript-y things, and it has always been frowned upon. And, to be fair, I remember a time when going to a page with heavy javascript made things run slow and the all-too-familiar caution signs of one of the all-too-easy to get js errors littered the status bars.

So, I was a good boy, and I focused mostly on pure HTML/CSS (and I’ve been begrudgingly having to start addressing the future of XHTML), but I stayed largely out of DHTML and JS. Then, recently, I discovered jQuery (or, How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love the JS).

jQuery, for anyone who hasn’t experienced it, is a Javascript library that standardizes a lot of the code and makes writing pretty powerful UI functions about as painless as you could ask. I discovered that a lot of what we consider to be Web 2.0– Google Maps, draggable boxes, AJAX, the WordPress admin backend– all of that is made possible through javascript libraries, and jQuery seems to be among the best. Thanks to it’s lightweight footprint it doesn’t weigh down a site anymore than a stylesheet (and is in fact lighter than most stylesheets I use), but despite that provides an astounding amount of UI-gooey power. And, it has a really nice structure for plugins, letting all sorts of things be patched in quickly and stably.

Thanks to coming to love jQuery, I suddenly have almost instantaneous and easy support for everything from advanced form skinning, form validation, auto-complete, auto-tab, tabbed interfaces, Flash-less sliders, instant galleries (Sparkle’s main gallery runs off a single unordered list and 2 jQuery plugins), AJAX history, AJAX content, color pickers, file uploaders, etc, etc..

So yeah, what this point comes down to is that if you’re like I was a month ago, and you’re still mistrustful of JS, you should reconsider that. The power of what jQuery can unleash upon your design with a minimal amount of work from you is astounding. And, it works on iPhones, try that with Flash.

5 Things I Wish I’d Learned About Web Design Sooner, part 2

The 960 Grid System CSS Framework

The 960 Grid System CSS Framework

Continuing my series of things I wish I’d known about web design sooner. Last time I talked about CSS overflows. Today I’m going to talk about another CSS idea, this time CSS frameworks.

As mentioned last time, I hadn’t really expected web design to be my final career, and as it quite solidly is (all of my paying freelance gigs and my dayjob are now web design), I’ve been dumping a lot of time into learning tricks I didn’t realize were available to me. Along those lines, the 960 CSS Framework is definitely something I wish I’d encountered as it came out, sooner is always better with timesavers like this.

Using a stable, premade framework tested on all A-grade browsers to position elements on a grid system (ah, good old grid system, Professor Satory would’ve approved of this back in my college days). With minimal markup and even less work I can build sites with blocks built horizontally on a 12- or 16- grid system build around a 960px width– which is not far from the 990px safe-width I had settled on myself.

As other sources have pointed out, a framework won’t always be the answer, but for the times it is it can save a lot of frustration working with CSS divs, floats, clearing, and the utter lack of standards-compliancy amongst standards-compliant browsers.