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A web site is just a web site unless it’s designed with a unique style. Creating a CSS Style Guide: Hands-On Training highlights the importance of a CSS style guide, which serves as an interface for the design team and a communication tool for the client. Laurie Burruss calls on her background as director of digital media at Pasadena City College and takes an informative, real–world approach to this topic. She shows how Dreamweaver CS4 can be used to develop a coherent site–wide emotion that boosts brand identity. The course culminates with building a working web style guide for professional use. Exercise files and a downloadable PDF quiz accompany the course.
Download the exercise files from the Exercise Files tab.
The last suggestion I would like to make to improve the style guide that we've already created is just going that extra mile. And what would make a style guide be just a little bit better, but we actually give a sample of our color palette or we put a idea board together or we show different typographic usages? A color palette is a great way to show your client that you are really thinking about the whole project and the overarching ideas and you are really trying to meet their objectives. So let's go out to Firefox and look at two online applications that actually generate color palettes for you.
The first one I want to show you is by a man name DeGraeve. It's an online application that he actually developed. Your images need to be somewhere on a server so that you can put a URL address inside here. I put the address to my sort of playground server and this is where I try different things out and teach students how to put things up and down. It's perfectly okay, if you want to go to this URL. It's fine with me. You type in your URL, make sure it's correct and that you have typed it in the correct way. Now, we are going to color- palette-ify by going out to the image.
And the image that I have selected to go make a palette from is the one that we have been using throughout this project. Now don't get disturbed. It really doesn't care what the content of the image is. It's simply pulling in the image and the pixelation and the colors and then randomly picking a palette. And I should describe a little bit how it's working. It's using what they called dull and vibrant. To be successful with color design, you should be thinking in terms of contrast, light/dark, warm/cool, soft/hard. Just keep thinking about contrast that makes for good design, keep it consistent and keep a family of colors.
So this is the dull version and it gives you all of the hexadecimal values, which is absolutely fantastic and such a time saver. And this is the vibrant. So depending on your client's objectives, the kind of target audience you are going for, this can be very helpful. The second application online is called Color Hunter. It's a completely different looking web page. All the colors appear right here in black and they show you a lot of samples. And this is a sharing site, this is a community site. People put theirs up and say this is my favorite palette and they add palettes and they share palettes. It's sort of like a Facebook for palettes.
I already put in one of my palettes. This is the header image: the graffiti image that's inside the image folder in our website structure. And let's click on search color palettes. And almost instantaneously up comes your color palette. This last image, again, is just a small clip to remind you what image that you put in there, and you can get different versions of this and you can do the same thing, toggle for vibrant and dull palettes. So there is your dull palette; there is your vibrant palette. It's also generates the hexadecimal colors.
Again saves you tons and tons of time, really an invaluable resource for that alone. And you can toggle the image off and on, because maybe you will never use this image inside your web page. I have done this a lot. Found an image I really like with a color palette or color tone I like, generated a palette from it. But I actually don't use the real image inside my website design. So you can turn this off and on for your client, experiment, try things out. Try a number of different images and see which sort of sings to your client or to your target audience.
Let's return to the Color Palette Generator. The way I captured this image is I simply use the Command+Shift+4 that's available inside the Macintosh and then I went into Photoshop or into Fireworks, and resize it and make it optimized for inside my web page. I'm going to return to Dreamweaver and show you how to put it inside your web page. Back in Dreamweaver, I have already put my optimized and resized images inside my image folder. I want to insert this palette below the quotation mark but above the table. The easiest place for me to do this is right above the table.
I'm going to insert my I-beam in front of "This is a table." Hit the Return or Enter key, and then hit my up arrow to put my I-beam right above the table text. Up in our Common toolbar, I'm going to select Image and it opens up in our source or project folder. Select my image folder and look for a palette. And I put both versions. You can make a choice about which one you want to see.
There is the first image that we captured, and there is the second site, and that's the image I captured. Because my background is all white, I'm choosing the first image. And I need to give it an alt tag. We are going to call this Cool Company Palette and select OK. And there we go. Now I need to put a caption below this to explain to the client and to the team what this means. So select the document, hit your right arrow key and that will put your I-beam right next to that image. I want to do a line break, so I'm going to hit Shift+Return or Shift+ Enter at the same time and then I'm going to type the caption. The caption I'm using is 'Suggested Palette for Style Guide' and because this is a style guide sampler we are going to put the tag I would use for this, h5.
After that I'm going to insert the actual URL. When I was using the Color Palette Generator, I copied the URL for my particular image. And now I'm going to paste it into this document. So there we have it. I'm going to select all of this text, go down to my Property Inspector, select HTML because I'm working on formatting, and under Formatting I'm going to choose h5, which is a very small but bold text. Remember this is just a caption; it's not a subsection title or something like that.
Now I'd also like to give it a link to the site and give credit for the site that I used and for the work that DeGraeve has done. So I'm going to do Copy, come down to the Properties Inspector, and paste that URL inside of here. Then Tab to the next target and make it be blank. And then I'm going to focus off and do a File > Save All and preview it in the browser.
So there is my page complete. Now this is over the top. It shows I really care. It shows that I'll go that extra mile to do whatever I need to do to communicate to the client and to the rest of the team about the project. This will be very helpful to everyone on the team and I do give credit to the source and who inspired me to do this. Check that link, if that link is working, then I can close that up. So now I have a terrific style guide. I have something I feel comfortable putting into my portfolio and I can be proud of the work I did. And I'm just beginning to understand and learn about web design and development.
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