Tagged: web

Adding a snowstorm effect to your Web site

You may have noticed a lot of Web sites this past month which feature animated snowflakes falling down the page in the background. Pretty nifty for the winter months and holiday season. It’s a fairly simply Javascript effect which you can customize quite a bit. You can learn more about the Snowstorm Javascript Effect here. The downloadable Snowstorm Javascript allows you to have the falling snowflakes collect at the bottom of your browser window, adjust the speed of the falling flakes, and even follow your mouse as you move it across the page (wind effect) if you wish. Note: Just for fun, move your mouse over the blinking Christmas lights at the top of the page for a cool effect.

Inspiring Web site header graphics

Toxel has listed 24 beautiful and creative Web site headers for your inspiration. Some of them are simply stunning. By the way, if you haven’t bookmarked Toxel in your RSS reader & Web browser, you should. They often list truly inspiring articles and imagery.

New animated Web graphic format

One feature that got little to no press at the time of launch of Firefox 3 is a new animated Web graphic format. Until now, Web designers had two options, Flash and animated GIF format. However, users of Firefox 3 have another format available to them, Animated PNG format(APNG). What’s the advantage of APNG? For starters, animated GIF files are limited to 256 colors and do not support partially transparent pixels. APNG supports a full color spectrum, just as normal JPG and PNG files do. It also supports full or partially transparent pixes. Unfortunately, because it’s not a Web standard just yet, it’s only available to Firefox 3 users. The Firefox logo above is animated, the fox is spinning around a stationary globe, but you’ll only see it in Firefox 3. In order to create APNG images, you’ll need Firefox 3 and the APNG Editor extension. The APNG Editor not only allows you to create APNG images, but you can also edit animated .gif images, frame-by-frame. The editor offers a simple set of options and looks a lot like the animation panel in Photoshop. I absolutely hate the constraints placed on me by the GIF format. It’s just so restrictive. I hope the APNG format takes off and gains a lot of popularity, because it’s certainly a lot more flexible. You can read more about the Animated PNG format at the Mozilla Web site, and download the APNG Edit extension here.

673 helpful links for Web designers

ForWebDesigners is a collection of nearly 700 resources for Web designers and bloggers. Links are divided up among 18 different categories to make what you’re looking for easy to find. Some of the topics include:

  • Ajax
  • Blogs
  • CMS
  • Fonts
  • Flash
  • Generators
  • Templates
  • CSS
  • Tutorials
  • Stock Photos
  • OS CMS

I really like this site because it’s well organized, and the quality of site links provided is pretty darn good. The site also offers user ratings to help you decide which ones are worth visiting.

This email will self-destruct in 10 seconds

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save the world. This message will self destruct in 10 seconds… (queue Mission Impossible theme song!) Sometimes you want to send a private email to someone, the type of email that contains sensitive information. Perhaps you’re plotting to overthrow the board of directors at your company, or maybe just the latest gossip about your boss and his rather disgusting eating habits. Obviously, you don’t want ANYONE but the recipient to see that email. In fact, you’re not even sure you want to risk them saving that email. Enter Privnote. Privnote allows you to send an email that will self-destruct (sans messy explosions, and evidentiary ashes) after reading it, leaving no trace of its existence at all. What makes Privnote cool and different from regular email:

  • You get a link to the note, and once that link is clicked the note is destroyed so it can only be seen once. If someone intercepts the link and sees the note before the person who’s intended to read it, that person will know that the note has been eavesdropped, and can tell you about it.
  • If you want to be notified when your note gets read you can do it by checking the notify box located below the note. Neither email nor instant messaging provides a reliable way to know if, let alone when, your messages are read.
  • If you send a note and suddenly regret having done so, you can click the link yourself which will destroy the note and prevent the receiver from reading it.

Acrobat finds a new home on the Web

Remember when hardly a week went by in the early months of 2008 without some sort of Apple product announcement? The past few weeks, Adobe has been doing its best Apple imitation, with a slew of product news aimed at creative professionals. Macworld has an article covering the latest offerings from Adobe, Acrobat 9 and the companion Web site, Acrobat.com

Don’t design a dead-end Web site – it’s all about the content

When I look at a lot of Web sites these days, two things jumps out at me. First, many sites look absolutely stunning. Beautiful mastheads, delicious AJAX everywhere, blinky, swooshing Flash and Web 2.0-style graphics adorn tons of Web sites. Competing with these gorgeous Web sites requires not only great graphic design skills, but you’ve got to be a coding genius as well. The second thing that I notice right away is that many of these sites contain little if any useful, informative content. Opinion blogs are everywhere, virtually anyone who can type has a blog, but finding great content is just getting harder and harder. It almost appears that many of these sites’ purpose is simply to show off the fact that they know how to code. Now I’m not trying to stand on my high-horse and look down on anyone’s efforts… (more…)

Design choices can cripple a Web site

AListApart has an old article by Nick Usborne titled Design Choices Can Cripple a Web site. While the article is quite old, it still argues a point that I feel (almost) exactly the opposite about. I believe that the content of a Web site provides the site its worth – the design has to be at least acceptable and pleasant to the eye, but it is not the major reason for me to visit. Nick appears to favor the design of a site over the content (at least, that’s the conclusion I’ve drawn after reading). As designers we tend to focus on the design, the bells & whistles and the functionality of a site. But we must not forget the content. You can’t make a promise with design that you can’t deliver with content.

Moving from Web design to print

It used to be that all things design started out in print. TV commercials, radio spots, outdoor boards and even Web sites started out with a print ad and were modified to fit other mediums. That time has long-since passed. Many Web site designers nowadays are finding that the market for Web work is rough going and extremely competitive. Factor in ever-changing technology, and you have thousands of Web and multimedia designers scrambling to supplement their income—or slide over to print design completely. So, if you’re a Web designer looking to add print to your stable of talents, you may want to take a look at this article I recently wrote for MacWorld.com, titled Moving from Web design to print. I also encourage you to register at the MacWorld site so you can post comments on the articles. The more interaction, the better the resource becomes.

Top ten Web design mistakes… year after year

Jakob Nielsen’s survey results of the Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005 is an old article, but proves to me to be an interesting read. While it may seem pretty straight forward, these were the same mistakes that are mentioned year after year. And yet designers continue to make them. The oldies continue to be goodies – or rather, baddies – in the list of design stupidities that irked users the most in 2005. Each of the following is discussed in various amounts of detail at the site:

  1. Legibility Problems
  2. Non-Standard Links
  3. Flash
  4. Content That’s Not Written for the Web
  5. Bad Search
  6. Browser Incompatibility
  7. Cumbersome Forms
  8. No Contact Information
  9. Frozen Layouts
  10. Inadequate Photo Enlargement

I believe the problem is that there are too many people who got a cheap PC and a copy of (Insert cheap consumer-based Web design program name here – GoLive and Dreamweaver don’t count) and now believe they’re “designers.” But the problem also lays squarely on the head of true designers who over-design their sites. We’re so worried about “how it looks” that we forget that someone else (who usually doesn’t care how it looks) is actually trying to read it! I don’t 100% agree with each statement in the top 10, but all are completely valid and you SHOULD pay attention to them because it can make or break your site.