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Guru Lists September 29, 2008

Posted by flutebrarian in Web Design.
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There’s no doubt that Sitepoint.com is one of my favorite web sites and publishing companies. Their articles are chock full of information on all sorts of web coding topics and they are written for the average person (non-code geek) to understand. In fact, I think I’ve expanded my CSS knowledge through many of their tutorials and books.

So, when I discovered their Guru Lists, I thought they’d be a good thing for future use. A couple that are excellent for expanding your design knowledge are Color for Coders and CSS Positioning Properties At-A-Glance.

Here’s to exploring!

Taking My CSS on the Road September 22, 2008

Posted by flutebrarian in Librarianship, Web Design.
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Friday, I had the opportunity to present a program on CSS at the Eastern Great Lakes Innovative Users Group meeting. We get a lot of clues on how to code a document and code “cookbooks” are great for a quick fix.

But how much do we really know about how the cascade really works? How do we troubleshoot the font that appears to shrink on the screen? What kinds of tools are available for determining inheritance features?

These were the kinds of things that I covered in the presentation “CSS: Beyond the Code.” If you are interested in troubleshooting tools that you can use in Firefox, check out Janet Stewart’s presentation that preceded mine called “The Web Developer’s Best Friend: Firefox Extensions.” I’ve also created a page that includes the links from the presentation in case you’re interested.

Starting a Website August 11, 2008

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One of the websites that I created and maintain is for the Alliance Alumni of Mu Phi Epsilon.

Last week, I received a call from our chapter president that we had won the award for the best alumni website for the year! Wow – the SECOND year in a row! I’ve designed a lot of websites, but this is the only award that I have ever won. Quite an honor.

Since then, I’ve gotten a few inquiries on how to get started. So I thought that this would be a good place to share some ideas on some best practices.

The first thing to do is get your domain name registered. I use a company called 1and1.com (that’s one and one) They are very inexpensive and have a good track record for service. Other companies can also offer you this service. Search your favorite search engine for “domain name service” for a listing of companies.

Next look for a hosting service – a place to put your website. The domain service company may also offer web hosting. You can also search for “web hosting”. Or, you can try the free route through your local public library or school if your chapter is affiliated with a college or university. In our case, our public library offers free web space to non-profit organizations in our community.

These two things should at least get you started. Some companies like 1and1.com, have templates readily available that allow you to just pick a design and type in your info – voila – instant web presence that looks good!

In future installments, look for hints on good and bad design, format vs. function, and Karen’s number one rule of web design: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Cheat Sheets Galore! February 28, 2008

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While I was reading through my American Libraries Online today, one of the posts caught my eye. It was The Cheat Sheet Cheat Sheet: Top 100 Lists of Web Development Cheat Sheets.

Always looking for a shortcut, I decided to give it a look. WOW! I’m definitely going to have to spend some time looking through all these great links. In fact, I found a couple that I plan to share with my beginner’s web design class when they meet for their final session tomorrow.

CSS Design Links February 14, 2008

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http://meyerweb.com/eric/css/edge/popups/demo.html – How to create pop-up rollovers

Back to School! January 23, 2008

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Recently I joined IWA (International Webmasters Association) to take advantage of the discounted cost of the offerings of eClasses.org. The class I chose is CSS 2.1 in Depth and it began on Monday.

After seeing the syllabus for the 8 week class, I see I have my work cut out for me! While I’ve been able to use CSS pretty successfully over the past few years, I’m not exactly an expert at all the intricacies nor am I comfortable with all the theory behind what makes it all work.

So, it’s back to school and time to brush up on all those details that I’ve skimmed over in the past.

Going from Drab to Fab October 31, 2007

Posted by flutebrarian in Web Design.
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A friend asked me the other day, “How do I give a web site some pizazz?” She’s fairly new at CSS and up until now has been reusing the same stylesheet for all her sites with modifications to colors and fonts.

It’s a great place to start, but yeah, it gets old pretty fast.

My suggestion to her was to start with a piece of paper and draw out the design for the site. This is a standard practice (and very low-tech) that has been recommended in every CSS/HTML class I’ve taken and every web design book I’ve read. After she draws several choices for the layout, then and only then, is she ready to start coding.

My other low-tech tool is a set of colored highlighters and markers. Works great for comparing code to layout when printing both out.

Anyway, as an exercise, it’s helpful to start with the skeleton of the (X)HTML with just the page data – NO design elements should be included. Next, add an embedded stylesheet to cover the layout and basic colors and fonts for the page. Finally, the styles for the specific parts of the page (classes and ids) should be added. It is also helpful to make the background color of each block class or id  a different color – this doesn’t add pixels to the width/height and makes it really easy to see which section is misbehaving.

Take one HTML page, add CSS, stir well, and stand back for a good look. For best results, be sure to check in versions of Netscape, Firefox, and my favorite (not!) IE, both 6 and 7.

Sounds of the Season October 16, 2007

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I’ve returned to Benjamusic to include some sound sample files for works in the catalog. Since the Christmas season is fast upon us, I decided to start with a couple of short samples for the Christmas page.

The tasks include finding software to convert CD recordings to mp3 (streaming) format and then software to edit the mp3 files to the right sample length.

I found a couple programs that are freeware (always a favorite!) –  Free CD to MP3 Converter to convert the CDs and WavePad to edit the files.

So far so good…

Birthing Process September 18, 2007

Posted by flutebrarian in Web Design.
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Today we launched the web site – Benjamusic.com. There are still a few pages to add and a few tweaks to the CSS, but overall, it’s full enough to be a viable site. Hopefully Eric will be happy with the setup…

Coming up – the start  of a blog. Stay tuned!

Biding My Time August 26, 2007

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The site was posted in my old reliable Geocities space last week. Initial reactions from a couple sources seem to be favorable. Now it’s time to sit back and wait for feedback and additional content to post.

In the meantime, I can start thinking about a remake of our Mu Phi Epsilon Alliance Alumni site. The site was my first real attempt at a CSS-based site and is now 3 or 4 years old. While there are many good looks on that site, there are still some features that make me cringe knowing what I know now. (Thoughts of the home page come to mind especially with the now old-style out-of-vogue sliced image table – ouch!)

I’ll have to give that one some thought – maybe a violet patterned background with a white text box or a large single violet faded into the background…

Many of our members have long and interesting backgrounds so I thought it would be a good way to get to know each other a little better by posting short bios. Many members have provided me with information, so it’s time to get some of that data posted.

And then there is the annual award for best web site. Ah, now there’s a carrot dangling in front of me to get me inspired…