I have rotten luck with computers — they inexplicably crash, video input stops working, and keys fall off seemingly at random and with high frequency. This is the fourth laptop I’ve had since I started high school, so the road of new computer shopping is well-worn for me, though still a little bit scary. Such an expensive purchase is something you have to mull over very carefully, because unless you’re satisfied with what comes in the mail, you have to deal with the hassle of returning it or swapping out parts. I usually have to find a model I like, get five outside opinions, and mull over the computer for at least a week before I buy it. So for this assignment, I had to face this fear head on and just go for it, with a $1700 budget (for the record, I could spend much more than that on a computer. Oops)
I also had a problem where the conditional logic of my radio buttons wasn’t working for hours. It was, of course, caused by the fact that I used curly braces instead of parentheses in a crucial block of text. I was glad it was an easy fix, but it’s amazing how much you can fret over such a stupid problem.
Overall I probably spent about 15 hours on this site and found it very difficult, but I’m very happy with my final product.
You can see my planets website here. I hope I added my new message correctly — I just replaced the old Blue Planet text with something new when the page loads, just like the Green planet.
For my second minisite assignment, I selected the topic of a dessert recipe exclusive website. This allowed me to give the website a whimsical, fun atmosphere, and I had a lot of fun selecting from bright, spring-y color palettes and curly serifs in my mockups and design of the site. My three sub-categories of desserts were cupcakes, cookies, and cheesecake, which are all things I enjoy and I knew would match the site’s design. However, despite the fact that I had fun coming up with the visual design of the website, the coding proved to be one of my toughest challenges yet. My minisite can be found here for your viewing pleasure.
This assignment was a doozy of a challenge to tackle, if I’m being honest. I’m fairly comfortable with the basics of CSS, and the article on floating content seemed self-explanatory. But when I attempted to put the principles outlined in the article and in class into practice, I ran into some pretty significant stumbling blocks. However, in the end, I was able to reconcile most of the problems I had, and I’m happy with my overall finished product, which can be seen here.
Trekcore, a Star Trek fansite, was chosen as an example of poor web typography for the purposes of this exercise. The typography on Trekcore’s website is varied to its detriment — at least five different fonts are featured on the homepage, each in different weights and colors. This jumble of typefaces and colors contributes to an overall cluttered feel, and negatively impacts the users’ experience. In the article on Smashing Magazine, “One More Time: Typography is the Foundation of Web Design,” designer Paul Scrivens explains that “For 99% of the designs out there, typography and white space are going to be your underlying foundation.” Trekcore uses neither of these well, so much of the design of the website had to be drastically changed in order to make a significant difference to its current typography.
Debrief: Coding Assignment
The in-class exercise gave us the task of attributing class tags to different chunks of text in an HTML file and manipulating the accompanying CSS file to make them each display different text. My webpage can be found here for your viewing pleasure.
This was a really useful assignment for me because I’d never learned how to use tags. I knew there was an easier way than just manually changing the text every time, but I didn’t know what it was (and couldn’t put it into words to try to use google to find an answer). I’m so happy I know the answer now!
As soon as I figured out how code could be changed to include class tags, the assignment flew by. I had no problems (for once!) and it felt great to see the page coming together from raw text to something much more readable without tons of broken images or messed up code. I’m really excited to learn how to use classes to build more complex websites more easily — no more manually entering HTML to change the look of text!
Debrief: Smashing Magazine
I like to think I have more than a passing knowledge of graphic design, but some of Smashing Magazine was incomprehensible to me. For example, references to font “hinting” in an article by Laura Franz, “Dear Web Font Designers,” were completely foreign to me. I’m not sure what the author meant by that or how it’s done, but examples of bad font hinting were pretty startling in how terrible they looked.
Another buzzword (or perhaps an industry term) that I didn’t understand was “slicing.” A google search revealed that this is just (to my understanding) a term for dividing up content, usually with something like CSS, as opposed to HTML tables.