It kills me to run into sites that were designed by people who think only at 1024×768. We live in a world of smartphones, tablets, and the widest variety of resolutions and screen sizes the industry has ever seen. One size clearly does not fit all, and there are now so many clean and standards-based remedies for this issue available to designers today. I’ve been trying to grow out of my resolutionist tendencies; one great place to get started is with Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte for A Book Apart. I bought the e-book edition a couple months ago and often leave it open on my iPad while I’m working on projects. Designers — both beginners and experienced alike — will likely find the sacrifice of two cups of Starbucks to be well worth it. I suspect a lot of the Web will be better off for these efforts as well.
Color schemes have been on my mind a lot lately. Contrast is King, an article in the latest A List Apart, shows you not only some cool tricks on making them but also how to make sure your schemes are not unreadable for colorblind people — and anything you can do to make your content more accessible to as wide of an audience as possible is a win.
Recently, I happened upon ImageOptim, a lightweight and incredibly effective image optimizer for PNG, JPEG, and GIF images (runs on Mac OS X only — sorry, Windows friends). It provides a ridiculously simple frontend to several commandline optimization tools. I often find myself dropping image sizes on an average of 20% per file — pretty impressive for already small .pngs that I work with. If you’re a Web designer and have Mac OS X, I consider this tool a must-have for squishing down your images to the last byte.
It’ll be a short one on Serious Business tonight, but we’ll be talking about why “Designed For Browser X” needs to finally die, pay tribute to Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes, who both passed away this weekend, and the usual spate of audience digressions which make Serious Business what it is. Won’t you join us? We’re live at 8:30 ET/5:30 PT.
I completed a dump of my old jwswebenterprises.com domain to my drive today in preparation for some serious archival (and dumping a hosting account that’s burning a $100 hole in my pocket every year that I don’t really use anymore). jwswebenterprises.com was where I did a lot of my work in my senior year of high school. While I certainly have come a long way in terms of design, I still think that some of the graphical pieces I did for my sites (mainly The Realm, my former personal site) were some of the most artistically aggressive work that I have ever done, especially as it relates to the typography I employed.
Putting aside the fact that it fully embraced the Internet Explorer monopoly and incorporated so many IE extensions that it made Mozilla 1.0 vomit when it was released in mid-2002, the fourth incarnation of my old Realm site is still my favorite — yes, of all time — in terms of sheer expression. It utilized a rich palette of deep blues, striking greens, and vivid oranges. The typography ran the gamut from futuristic lettering in OCR A Extended, to a grungy typewriter font in Batik (Harting) Regular, to dabbling in the classy with Vladimir Script. All three come into play in this rare graphic displayed in the early going of February 2002, when the news script was operating but the rest of the site was still being put together:
The juxtaposition of the fonts was just out there and worked really, really well — it wasn’t something I would have expected myself to do. These themes were weaved in throughout the entire design and just lent a class to it — a pity I never finished the content of that site before moving onto another design.
As I’ve gotten older and allegedly grown up, I definitely have become more conservative with my design. My work is definitely more calculated; much more matters now on the Internet than it did then, when there was only one viable browser and platform, and search engine optimization was sticking “content” and “description” META tags in the top of all the pages. CSS for layout was an ideal that was seemingly impossible, and Netscape 4.7 would probably crash if you used CSS in your page anyway.
My, how times have changed.