Saturday, February 25, 2012


Chapter 7 of White Space is Not Your Enemy deals with layouts for the web. It includes layout design concepts and examples to make your website not only look good, but also deliver content in the clearest, most impactful way. It also includes tips about type, and do's and don'ts for images (and multiple images).

The chapter briefly mentions stand-in text, which can be used when you need to make a layout but may not yet have the copy. I've used this Lorem Ipsum generator, which lets you specify how much text and what kind of formatting you need.

For the rule of thirds, don't forget that if you're using Photoshop you can bring up a handy thirds grid for your images. While that doesn't really help with the overall layout, making each piece effective on its own is important, too - 'off' photos or graphics an otherwise well-designed layout can ruin it.

Once you get the layout idea for your website drafted, keep in mind that not everyone will see it like you do. Different browsers and monitors render colors, borders, alignment, and all kinds of things differently. Plus, users can adjust the brightness, contrast, and screen resolution on their computers, which also makes a difference. While your layout can't look perfect everywhere, make sure it's acceptable for most. It should look good in different sizes, and your sidebar shouldn't go completely haywire in one browser. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chapter 14 of Golombisky & Hagen's White Space is Not Your Enemy is absolutely full of great information for those who want to create a website the right way. It covers basic design elements for the web; points out problem areas that most people don't think about like color shift, font scaling, and fixed vs. fluid layouts on different monitor sizes; and discusses the purpose of websites and how to choose if a domain is right for your project versus a web log or social media profile.

For me, this information wasn't new. However, I think it would be a very useful tool for anyone starting a website. Most people, even those who use the Internet regularly, don't understand what really goes into creating your own website from scratch; the diagrams and paragraphs explaining the relationship between your computer, your domain name, and your live website spell things out well.

Most of the information in the design sections seems trivial at best, common sense at worst - but it's not. People make horribly ugly, completely unnavigable, badly organized, utterly pointless websites all the frakking time. Since our generation has grown up with the Internet, we think we know best and we're not going to pay someone to do it for us or buy a book to self-teach. Couple that with the fact that most of the time when we see a boring or badly designed website, we just back out of it instead of leaving feedback, and you can see why it's so easy for crummy sites to exist.

This isn't just a web problem. This weekend, I went to a pizza place, and perused the rest of the menu while waiting for my order. They had multiple errors, badly written sentences, and a poorly designed logo. I just shook my head and sighed - how are writers and graphic designers ever supposed to get jobs, if people don't feel the quality of things like menus is important enough to pay for? The pizza was absolutely fantastic, but badly done print materials - or websites - can leave people with little faith about your company.

Since fonts are a big part of this chapter, check out this link. It contains helpful information on typography and design in the form of infographics - and as much as I love words, I definitely appreciate the not-wordy-get-to-the-point-plus-!pictures! awesomeness of infographics. (Web Authoring students: Notice how some of the principles we learned in class are included, like how the eye travels across a page.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Editing Webtext

Editing webtext is like editing poetry. Space is essential, so every word has to hold its own and be the best choice.

Kilian makes some fair points and has some nice lists in chapter five of Writing for the Web. I'll share some pointers of my own.

To edit your text, move it into a new word processing document. Swap the font out and mess with the layout. Then let it sit. Don't look at or think about it for a while, and it'll be fresh and new when you come back to it (and see all your mistakes!). Kilian suggests printing it out, double spacing, increasing the font size, and changing the font. However, I don't see a reason to have to retype all those changes and waste paper. Then again, I grew up using computers so I'm more comfortable editing on screens.

A large section of the chapter lists abbreviations and terms for web writing. My advice: if you have to look it up, don't use it. If English is your second language, check out resources online or get a hard copy text to refer to. This is a nice start and easy skim list, but I'm not really sure how useful it is in the long run. Depending on your major and the purpose of your website, most of the stuff on this list you'll never run into - and you could easily do a websearch for it if you did.

Kilian also gives some advice that can be boiled down to the following: don't be an offensive jerk, don't ramble on with unnecessary junk, watch out for confusion from dialect/terminology if you have a global audience, and hyphenate to avoid confusion if you must.

Just don't sacrifice your style for the sake of appealing to a larger audience. Most websites get little traffic. Find your niche and write what your fans want. If you get famous, then you can think about appealing to huge audiences... but realistically, you probably won't get so much traffic that you have to worry about it. Just be an accessible, not-outrageously-offensive version of yourself.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Website Draft & Wix Workarounds

It's pretty bare bones right now, but I've got the skeleton for it. I started with a blank template instead of one of the Wix ones and added on from there. Also, most of the pictures there not the ones that will be in the final cut, I just needed enough to make sure the flash widgets worked!

On another note, you can change your email and username on Wix by going to the My Account page and then clicking on Settings. I didn't find this out until after I'd already created everything, of course. I'll probably change stuff around later; if I do, I'll edit this post to have the correct URL.