OK, you’ve created your own weblog and your hands are shaking with excitement and terror. You just posted an excellent new piece that details your grievances with that jerk Kelly at work, an essay that is by turns insightful and thrillingly alive with a kind of erotic frisson. But where are your readers? Where are the hits? Why aren’t people falling over themselves to get at your sweet, sweet words?
There are many possible explanations, but one is that people are shallow, crass, and easily distracted by shiny objects. If they come to your site and just see a page full of text, their eyes will glaze over and they’ll head right on back to the Nude Animated GIFs site.
But, but, it’s the content that’s important, right? Shouldn’t your razor-sharp writing be enough to keep their attention? Wouldn’t dressing up the text with pretty pictures almost be an insult? Isn’t it what’s in here (gesturing toward heart) that matters most of all?
Yes, truly, but in the real world people like to see their content all gussied up, preferably as sextastically as possible. Sure, you can give them a few well-cropped and color-adjusted photos. But your blog also needs its fair share of arty, distorted, eye-searing pictures! And what about a zany logo?
Continue Reading “Use Filters in Photoshop” »
It’s difficult to think of an electronic gadget that’s changed the way I look at the world more than my digital camera. I held off from buying one at first, but after a year of researching and one particularly hefty tax return from Uncle Sam, I made the plunge. Roughly US$500 later and I was staring down a convex lens at my life. Suddenly, every sight was a picture waiting to be taken! Every scene a perfect composition begging to be snapped up and stored on a memory card. After some advice from my pro photographer friends and a whole lot of practice, I officially became the annoying guy with the camera at the crowded party.
The truth is that digital photography is actually rather difficult. Not the taking pictures part, that’s easy. It’s the creation of a perfect end product that’s the sticky part. Taking a raw JPEG or TIFF file and crafting a digital image that looks beautiful on all the different monitor types is a process that transcends art and borders on science. Some photos turn out almost perfect from the get go – never underestimate the power of good natural light! – but most of your snapshots are going to need some gentle persuasion in the right direction before they are ready to wow the New York gallery scene.
Don’t panic, because Webmonkey is here to impart advice on creating that sharp, bright, and well-balanced image that you can show off on your site, your blog, Flickr, Zooomr or anywhere on the web. We’ll be using some tools and techniques that will be familiar to you if you’ve ever spent any time messing around in Photoshop. I’ll also be covering some basic rules about file handling, monitors, and display options.
Continue Reading “Photoshop Tips for the Web” »
Before I knew anything about typography, I thought of it as some kind of high magic, shrouded in arcane terminology and a long, mysterious history. Since then, I’ve learned enough to know that – although that’s all quite true – even us mere mortals can use type sensitively by learning a bit about how it works and paying just a little attention to how it is used.
Continue Reading “Web Typography Tutorial – Lesson 1″ »
Ask any web designer about the use of typographic design on web pages and they’ll tell you the same truth: The web is a harsh, uninviting environment for the delicateness of fine typography. Along with the usual web culprit of platform inconsistency, the extreme low resolution of even the best current screens means type online can only allude to the geometry of the typefaces you’ve so carefully chosen and specified.
Continue Reading “Web Typography Tutorial – Lesson 2″ »
Once upon a time, a web designer wished to communicate a page’s location within the hierarchy of an entire site. There was only a small space available at the top of the page. The designer thought for a while, and eventually found the answer between the keys of his keyboard:breadcrumbs.
What are breadcrumbs? Well, if you have ever browsed an online store or read posts in a forum, you have likely encountered breadcrumbs. They provide an easy way to see where you are on a site. Sites like Craigslist use breadcrumbs to describe the user’s location. Above the listings on each page is something that looks like this:
s.f. bayarea craigslist > city of san francisco > bicycles
Translated to English, that says “I’m looking at bicycles for sale within the city limits of San Francisco, which is located in the San Francisco bay area.” Phrased another way, it says, “If I go to the Craigslist home page, click on the San Francisco location, and then choose bikes for sale, then, with a little luck, I’ll find these listings.”
As far as I can tell, the name “breadcrumb navigation” is derived from the children’s story of “Hansel and Gretel” by the Brothers Grimm:
“Just wait, Gretel, until the moon rises, and then we shall see the crumbs of bread which I have strewn about, they will show us our way home again.”
Smart Hansel! So, that’s the skinny on breadcrumbs. Now let’s look at how they can be used on your site to help your users find their way around.