Guide Speaking in Styles: Fundamentals of CSS for Web Designers

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And every design featured here scores high on each of the seven principles we discuss. So take a minute to scroll up and down and see for yourself if they all pass muster. The concept of grids is closely related to that of balance. Think of columns. Spacing and the use of the Rule of Thirds or similar Golden Ratio make everything easier on the eye. It is also why the subject in professionally taken photographs is usually positioned not in the middle but at the intersection of an imaginary nine-square grid three by three, with two horizontal and two vertical lines. The grid lends itself particularly well to minimalist designs.

While the design is not visually impressive in itself, the clear strict structuring of elements makes it easy on the eye. The left column is roughly twice the size of the right sidebar, which just makes sense and is something to think about when creating your own designs. What if you changed the base red on the The First Twenty website above to lime green?

If You're an Educator

Would it look good? Most likely not. Websites such as ColourLovers exist for a reason. A lot of theories on colors and their combinations exist, including conventions on monochrome and contrasting schemes, but a lot comes down to common sense and having a feel for it. Find out for yourself what works together.

Soak up as many website designs as possible, such as those featured on any of the many CSS showcase websites like Best Web Gallery , to get a feel for how colors interact with each other. Pick two or three base colors at most for your design, and then use tints which are lighter, mixed with white and shades which are darker, mixed with black of these base colors to expand the palette where necessary.

Step 1: What Is a Website Made Of?

Picking nice colors is as important as picking the right colors that is, the right colors for the job. Of course, there is no such thing as a surefire recipe. Every color sends out a message , and it is up to you to get the message right. The black and white conveys chic and professional, while the red adds the spice that makes certain elements stand out and keeps the design from looking dull; of course, more than just red makes this design interesting.

By the way, one company in particular popularized this style. All of those soft pastels make this design shine. At first glance, the color choices may look somewhat arbitrary, but when you look closely you notice a strictly defined color palette, which is necessary to ensure that all of the elements get along well.

The website, and especially its background, also demonstrates a good combination of colors and graphics, which brings us to number four…. But poor graphics will definitely hurt a design. Graphics add to the visual message. Websites like WebDesigner Wall have impressive illustrations, while others are understated. Tim van Damme uses only a handful of graphics on his website Max Voltar , but he implements them with the greatest thought and care. A non-intrusive background image and a sophisticated crown are two of the graphics.

Visually, they are not overly impressive, but they all add to the look and feel of the website, and nowhere is one out of place. For some time now, Max Voltar has had a different design than the one shown above. But for the two months that this one was online, it was easily one of my favorites. Because of this and because its use of graphics is so exemplary, I picked it over the lastest version. Some basic Photoshop skill, possibly some stock images and great taste are all you need.

Try to make the graphics go well together , and make sure they embody the style you are aiming for.

We are not all gifted with the same natural ability, though. You can pick up some things by learning from others, but sometimes you just have to pick the style that suits you best like a clean style if you are not the greatest of illustrators. The art of type is a tricky subject to talk about because it encompasses so many elements. While it can be regarded as a branch of design, one can spend a lifetime mastering all of its aspects.

This is not the place to provide a complete typographic reference, so we will limit our discussion to what will benefit you in the short term. Web typography is handicapped compared to print typography. The biggest difference is our lack of complete control over the appearance of type on the Web, due to its dynamic character.

Obviously, dynamic rendering has its strenghts, but Web designers have little control over the results, at least for now. But while we may have to wait for CSS 3 for Web typography to reach its full potential, we have the means now to make it look interesting and, more importantly, pretty.

One of them is font stacks. Font stacks are just basic CSS. They let you define the order in which fonts should be rendered. To be precise, we are speaking of typefaces here, not fonts. Of course, this means the design will not look exactly the same for everyone, and as such we lose some control yet again. But for those who do not want to resort to another solution such as image replacement , this is the best that pure CSS offers at the moment until the day we can comfortably use font-face. Wilson Miner uses the font stack we cited above. Helvetica Neue is an improvement of Helvetica.

And while Arial is installed on almost every computer at least on Windows and Mac machines and therefore a popular choice for the Web, most designers prefer Helvetica to Arial. This way, you get the best of both worlds: Helvetica for those who have it and Arial in case Helvetica is unavailable. Jon Tan uses another interesting font stack for his headings:.

Only a relatively small number of visitors will see the headers in Baskerville, but that is not a problem. Again, font stacks are not a perfect solution, but they do give you an advantage. Measure is the length of lines, and leading is the height or vertical spacing of lines. In CSS, measure can be controlled by defining a width for the containing box e. Both affect readability. Between 40 and 80 characters per line seems ideal. Leading can be increased or decreased, if you really want to by defining the line-height CSS property.

Generally, a line height of 1. A third way to improve readability is with hanging quotes and bullets. Rather than leave the text of bulleted lists and quotes with the default alignment, horizontally align it with the rest of the text on the page. Tim van Damme uses hanging bullets for his latest redesign of Max Voltar :. We have added the red line to emphasize how all of the text has been horizontally aligned. By simply setting the padding-left CSS property of the bulleted list to 0 , you can achieve the same result.

Pulling off hanging quotes, on the other hand, is not as straightforward. Most designers resort to a background image for quotation marks and then align accordingly, as done by Matthew Buchanan :. The hanging quotation mark here does not disrupt the flow of text.

Print and Web are not the same. That seems pretty obvious, but a lot of people treat them as if they were the same. Print is fixed, and the Web is dynamic. Having complete control over how your Web design will look for everyone is impossible. Vertical rhythm, proper justified text with hyphenation and without rivers and multi-column layouts are just a few of the features of print that are almost impossible on the Web. Thus, we have a lot to look forward to with CSS 3. CSS 3 will probably not be, however, a be-all and end-all solution, and it will likely be another few years before we can fully take advantage of it.

What about image replacement the technique of replacing fonts with images? Well, that depends on what you think is more important: being able to display the exact font you want or having dynamic, accessible and SEO-friendly content?

Image replacement lends itself well to headers and excerpts, but it is hardly a solution for body text. White space, or negative space, has to do with what is not there.

Web Design References

Like measure and leading, white space gives text some breathing room and spatial peace. You can make elements stand out by adding white space around them. To ensure readability, make sure paragraphs have sufficient padding. Perfume ads — or any ad for a luxury product for that matter — are known for their use of white space… loads of it; and a serif typeface for good measure. The screenshot above is of my own website Shift px. The design relies heavily on typography and white space. White space adds a lot of class to a design.

Inexperienced designers are tempted to put something in every little corner. Design is about communicating a message. Design elements, therefore, should support this message, not add noise to it. Connection here refers to a Web design that has both unity and consistency. These two attributes demonstrate the profesionalism of a design and thus its designer. They are very broad attributes. A design should be consistent in its use of colors, in its range of fonts, with its icons, etc.

All of these aspects count; a design can look great and still suffer from inconsistencies. When a design is inconsistent, its unity can be lost on the user. Unity is slightly different from consistency. Unity refers to how the different elements in a design interact and fit together. For example, do the colors and graphics match? Does everything contribute to one unified message? Consistency, on the other hand, is found between the pages of a design. Unity is perhaps the more important of the two. Without unity, having a good design is hard. Of the seven principles addressed in this article, connection is the most important.

Connection has to do with how all elements come together: balance, grid, colors, graphics, type and white space. It is sort of the glue that binds everything together. Without this glue, the design falls apart. This is the hardest part of designing. It is not something that can be easily taught or necessarily be taught at all.

A little natural ability and experience is required. But it is what it is, and it makes a design look good in the end. The attention to detail makes this design excel. Good Web design is not limited to the seven key principles discussed here. Aspects such as accessibility, readability and usability play a part, too. This is the reason why Web design is so difficult. Getting your feet wet in design is easy, especially today, with so many content management systems, blogging tools and themes readily available.

Having the ability to craft pretty designs is just one facet, but an important one. How to create an HTML form like a pro. How to start an HR department from scratch. Ready for PSD2? Here's what you need to know now. B2C lead generation ideas and techniques that work. Facebook Messenger Marketing How to get started with chatbots. Top event marketing strategies and ideas.

Thanks for sharing the informative info for design the perfect website. Thanks for sharing the valuable info which describes the best way to design the perfect website. I love your site and all of your ideas for making extra income! Thank you for sharing! I have a question that may seem pretty ridiculous, but with the lack of income in the beginning, how did you go about getting a desktop or computer?

I thought maybe you would have some ideas about getting something that can handle the workload at a decent price. Thanks so much! Victoria Tegg. Yes this tips will surely help us out in making our website design really good and am sure that it will be loved by the end user. The designs that you create must standout and deliver a message. I have been reading Jotform's Articles, but this is too much creative. As you have mentioned 7 key points that are completely creative.

Always love to read your article! I just want to mention I am new to weblog and honestly loved you're page. You surely have exceptional article content. Regards for sharing your blog. Very good principals to take along with you when designing a website. Web designers tend to focus too much on graphics sometimes. I have to admit, I do so myself. But I have been thinking about text based sites and there appearance online. Nice topic you can also see my website that i build and charge just few pound for a sexy website When you say that the Main Content area should be equal to the width of the page divided by 1.

How does this work if you want to put more than the defined length in, then? In order for the area of the main content to equal page width divided by 1. Great information! It's amazing reading this to today how relevant these principals are in Thank you for being such a great resource!! This article is damn good man contain lot of useful information for people like who wanted their web design look good. This article is very insightful. I learned a lot reading it. I am doing research into web design and I am using this article as my main basis of research.

The author should be proud of himself, it is written so well. Hi there. Just remember that your website can only be as great as the content. Content matters lots and if you have nothing to offer, showoff or to interest the reader your pretty design goes bye bye in a matter of a minutes. I've bumped into some of the ugliest websites on the planet and because their content is so delicious that those ugly websites have succeeded and are still here since the day http came online.

So for all those that think design is important don't ever for get your content matters too. Even the way you writer needs to know how to entertain with great scripts or users hit the home button so fast you lost them. Just saying. Hey Colon, very informative 7 key principles to make a Web design look good , nice article which covers basic things which are always missed by new developers. Hey Colon, Page Loading Speed is important aspect of website design these days, no visitor want to hang up for long if the page is taking time to load. Survey says that visitor will wait for 4 seconds maximum in most cases.

Many thanks for other wonderful pointers. I am from Ukrain and I dont speak english so gut, but I have homework to find the english text to read and translate it. So, I find this article and try to translate it. So, I want to tell "thank you" to the autor, because I find a lot of interesting information, that I can use for my website and develop my skills to make something beautiful! This is the best article I've ever read on this subject. I'm not a professional web designer nor do I have a degree in arts. I'm a physicist that moved on to the computer science filed and eventually ended up developing a website.

It is not hard to see why I had such a hard time trying to make it look nice. I've been searching to web for good information on principles that explain what we look at in a web design when we find it pretty. Since our assessment of beauty tends to be an automatic process I had never stopped and wonder about what specific details make a website look good.

As a physicist I knew about the golden ratio but I lack the experience and education and probably talent needed understand what went wrong when I saw my own design and I didn't like what I saw. When objects are closer together, they are perceived as being related. By controlling spacing around elements, you can imply relationships between them. It can be helpful to create a system for spacing to help build consistency through repetition and avoid the use of random numbers.

This system is based off the default browser font size 1rem or 16px and uses distinct values that cover most scenarios:. You can use Sass or CSS variables so that the values are kept consistent across the project. When used well, it gives pages life and emotion; used poorly, it can distract from the content, or worse, make it inaccessible. Color goes hand in hand with most design principles. With color, it can be hard to know where to start. To help, you can use a four-step process to guide your color choices and build a color palette for the site.

You have to know the mood or attitude of your site and brand before choosing colors. Look at your content and decide what you are trying to communicate. Is it funny, informative, retro, loud, somber?


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Typically, you can boil down the mood of your site to a few adjectives. For example, you might summarize The North Face as adventurous and rugged while Apple would be minimalistic and beautiful. With your mood in mind, try to visualize a color that represents it. If your mood is upbeat or flashy, a lighter more saturated color is probably best. If your mood is serious or reserved, a darker less saturated color is better.

Next, choose a hue. Hue refers to what most people think of as colors—where does is fall on the rotation of the color wheel? The hue of a color is what gives it the most meaning. People tend to associate hues with certain ideas. For instance, red is often associated with power or danger and green relates to money or nature. Sometimes, two or three main colors are needed, but this is not necessary. Think about the colors of different brands. Some use a single color, and others have a main color and one or two that support it.

Coca-Cola uses its distinct red. IKEA is mostly blue with some yellow. Tide is orange with some blue and yellow. Try using a tool like Adobe Color or Coolors , both of which allow you to add a main color and then try different color relationships , like complementary or monochromatic, to quickly see if any work well. Tints and shades are the trick here. Tints are made by mixing your main color s with white, and shades are made by mixing with black.

You can quickly create an organized system with Sass color functions :. Try creating a "rich black" using a dark, almost black shade of your main color and, on the other end of the spectrum, pick a few light grays that are tinted with your main color. Tinting the white and black adds a little more personality to your page and helps create a cohesive look and feel. Last but not least, if you are working on an interactive product, you should add colors for success, warning, and error states.

Typically a green, yellow, and red work for these but consider how you can adjust the hue to make them fit better with your palette. For example, if your mood is friendly and your base color is green, you might want to desaturate the error state colors to make the red feel less negative. You can do this with the mix Sass color function by giving it your base color, the default error color, and the percentage of base color that you want to mix in with the error color. Adding desaturate functions helps tone down the colors:. Color contrast —the difference in saturation, brightness, and hue between two colors—is an important design principle for ensuring the web is accessible to those with low vision or color blindness.

By ensuring there is enough contrast between your text and whatever is behind it on your site will be more accessible for all sighted users. You can use these processes and CSS tips to help take the guesswork out of design and create better solutions. Start with what you are familiar with, and eventually, the design principles mentioned here will become second nature. Regarding the spacing.

The first example given perfectly represents the challenges I face in everyday situation. The thing is I need to style the card for short and long titles, short and long preview description and different images. Real scenarios are never this straight forward. I wish there was an easy solution! A must-read for UX Designers as well, for them to know why it is necessary to maintain consistency in a project.

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