Building Web pages with HTML is like painting a portrait with a paint roller. Only truly determined and tenacious souls can achieve the exact result they want. It’s just not the right tool for precision and flexibility.
Anyone who’s used HTML for more than a week knows it isn’t a very effective tool for making Web pages. That’s why we sometimes resort to making large GIFs when we want just the right font or layout. That’s why we’re forced to use convoluted table tags and invisible spacer GIFs to push things around on a page.
It’s ridiculous, really. Our code gets too complicated, our GIFs too numerous, and our final pages too bandwidth-heavy. It’s not exactly optimal Web page construction.
But in late 1996, stylesheets quietly entered the scene. Officially called cascading stylesheets (CSS), it was an elegant cousin to HTML that promised:
- more precise control than ever before over layout, fonts, colors, backgrounds, and other typographical effects;
- a way to update the appearance and formatting of an unlimited number of pages by changing just one document;
- compatibility across browsers and platforms; and
- less code, smaller pages, and faster downloads.
Despite lukewarm support from many of our favorite Web browsers, CSS is starting to make good on these promises. It’s transforming the way we make Web pages and is the cornerstone of Dynamic HTML.
We’ll spend the next five lessons taking a tour through the land of stylesheets. You’ll learn the basics of how to create and use cascading stylesheets within your Web pages as well as what’s possible with fonts, typography, colors, backgrounds, and positioning.
Continue Reading “Mulders Stylesheets Tutorial – Lesson 1″ »
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” »
Welcome to Lesson 2 of our tutorial on the wondrous language known as cascading stylesheets. After Lesson 1 on the basics of how to use and add stylesheets to Web pages, we can now begin exploring the individual properties that make them more than cool.
Lesson 2 is devoted to fonts: calling them by name, controlling text size, specifying all manner of bolds and italics, and adding special effects. Do you think you can do all these things with existing HTML tags? Well, you can’t.
The CSS properties covered in this lesson include:
Continue Reading “Mulders Stylesheets Tutorial – Lesson 2″ »
Let’s get started.
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″ »
We’re all tired of waiting for web pages to download, aren’t we? To make sure that visitors to your site don’t get frustrated, we rounded up some in-house experts to help you make your pages faster ‘n greased lightning.
Pictures are worth a thousand words — especially on the web, where pages of text can download in the time it takes for a single image to load. Your images may be sub-zero cool, but if they’re too plump, few people will stick around long enough to see them. We’ll dig into tricks and optimizations to speed up your GIF, JPG, and PNG downloads.
Once you’ve learned the basics of shrinking your images, we’ll will walk you through the advantages of using CSS for your page layout. And, if you’re one of those people who insists on using tables, we’ll offer you a few choice hints on how to get those tables slim and streamlined.
After you’ve removed the bloat from your layout code and your images, you’ll learn how to cut needless elements from your pages. Hint: Start with all those links.
The series concludes with wise words about how to come up with benchmarks for speed and how to test your site using nothing but a stopwatch and a pencil.
Get started with with lesson 1
Site Optimization Tutorial