Web Wednesday

I actually did a lot of web work this week! First I updated the cosplay tutorial list and added some new graphics for the highlighted section.

But today I finished up the mockup for my portfolio website, I decided to take from magazines as my inspiration and focus on color and typography rather than graphics. Today I am building ou the basic frame for the site and hopefully I will get to adding in some content for now.


Web Wednesday … on Thursday

So I dedicated wednesday to post about web design stuff! But I got really busy yesterday and didn’t get a chance to post. So, I’m making a quick one now.

I decided to share a great tool that I have a lot of love for:
Colorburn
http://www.firewheeldesign.com/widgets/

What is it?
Colorburn  is a widget you can add to dashboard on Mac OSX, but I also believe it has windows availability using yahoo widgets.

Every day it features a new color pallet, showing the colors and the hexidecimal values. On some days it even offers to show it in action!

Why is it awesome?
I find it’s great for inspiration. I check it daily and if I like the color combination I will screenshot it for later.

Another interesting tool, which is related, is adobe’s Kuler:

http://kuler.adobe.com/

It also helps with color pallets, it lets you look through existing ones or create your own from images or off of a starting color. It’s really great when you grab a nature photo and grab some of the colors from it!


Change and the Web

I was reading through clients from hell, a comical site about designer’s clients with ridiculous demands, when I came across this one:  http://clientsfromhell.net/post/401213076/change-isnt-constant

The developer of a client site I was working on was adamant that the 5 year old design that channelled 1999 methodologies didn’t need changing. The developer insisted that the users would get angry.

Developer: “There’s a Chinese proverb that says a woman born with a limp will refuse a good leg since she’s used to her situation.”

Me: “You’d rather limp?”

As true as it is that websites need to keep up with changing technologies – new designs to fit the image, using technologies to make the user interaction easier, or just updating the site so that it better organises the information. However, in my experience with some larger sites such as facebook and gaia online, when they change their layouts it is responded to with a massive amount of anger! Tons of people complaining that the old layout is better and threatening to leave the site unless it is changed back. I have some of these feelings too, I don’t like having to search for a page I used to navigate to easily or get used to a new interface, but as a designer / developer I understand the need for the changes and usually can see why they decided to change.

So why all the hatred, can’t other people see the benefits too? Well, not at first – but in time everyone gets accustomed to the new layout and do find ways it makes their experience better or easier, or whatever the layout sets out to do. So then another design pops up and they defend the current last design. What is comical is that if you remember sites from their former forms, people remember how great and easy it was – but the sites were never as good as people remember (for the most part!)

So how do you make the transition between website designs easier?

  • Try to keep designs similar. When facebook did their latest layout change they completely changed the navigation which threw a lot of people off, and while having it constantly at the side has grown on many, it takes a while to get used to the new system.
  • Make sure pages that are visted frequently are easy to get to, especially if they are going to be taken off the main navigation.
  • Make sure everything works properly when launched, if people find messed up links it will just add to the hatred of the new layout
  • When you make a significant change, make sure there is a reason. Don’t just make an entirely new navigation because it is something fun to do, have it to make the user find pages easier, or organise the content. If the site that is being changed is fairly popular, let the users know what the change is and why it was done, if they understand why then they’ll be more open to it.

Even if you are super considerate of the user they may still hate the new layout, especially if it’s a site they spend a lot of time on such as forums and social networking. So take the criticism with a grain of salt, you can’t make everyone happy!


Interesting

For anyone who needs a placeholder image this is such a spiffy site! Just go to: http://placehold.it/ and type the size you want after the url (for example: http://placehold.it/350×150 for a 350 by 150 image) and it generates a placeholder image in that size. I swear this will save me at least a couple minutes of my life, I wish I found it earlier!