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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.
At this point in the web design and development process, you should be using browsers, testing in browsers and comparing browsers. As I said, designing for the web is designing for a moving target. You'll have a large audience and you have no idea what kind of browser they are using, who their Internet provider is or what kind of machine they are using at the other end. So you have got to be flexible. What you are trying to do is create web pages that have the same feel and look from browser to browser. There are a number of ways to preview your page in a browser and there are some new features in Dreamweaver CS4 that allow you to see a simulation of a preview in a browser.
Let's go up to the button Live View at the top of your document window. Clicking on this gives a simulation of what your page will look like in your primary targeted browser. In this case, my primary browser is Firefox, so Dreamweaver is making an attempt to preview or simulate that look inside of Dreamweaver. The links even work when I choose this particular Live View method. What you have to remember using Live View is that you cannot edit in Live View. And many, many times when I'm using it, I forget and go oh-oh, what happened? But if you click on anything and you get this blue, you know you are in Live View. Just simply go up and toggle it off.
My preference is to actually test, preview and compare in actual browsers. So I'm going out to my Preview in Browser button and selecting Firefox. Now, I haven't done this before but it's important to preview your website in different sized viewports. Notice, I'm changing the size of this. One thing you should notice is that no matter what I do, the image is not changing size. We talked about it before. This is a fixed pixel width. This image is always going to be the width that it is, 780 pixels.
However, the text or the body text is adapting and fitting into the size of the viewport as I do this. The only thing you will notice is as I make it smaller, it becomes longer and longer and more and more to scroll. Keep in mind, you can't control this experience; your users can set their viewport to whatever size they want. I like to grab the Firefox window when it's like this and drag it next to my document window and compare the difference between the two display images. So I have the sense of what I'm designing for in Firefox and what it looks likes actually to me inside of Dreamweaver. I have gotten pretty good at kind of knowing what the two look like.
As you can see Firefox has slightly larger fonts and text and the colors are slightly more intense and there is a color shift. I'm going to click back on Dreamweaver, then also open up my secondary browser, which in this case is Safari. But if you were working in Windows, you would be opening up your Internet Explorer browser at this point. So, now I have got another browser open and I'm going to bring my browsers all to the front. So the browser on top is Firefox, this browser right here is the Safari browser and I have them all now lined up side by side, so I can see how they display. In the case of Safari and Firefox, you can see that they are very, very similar and that's good news. It means that if a user opens up my page inside of Firefox or in Safari, they are going to have a similar experience.
The other good news is that generally users don't use more than one browser to surf the Internet. So as I said before, what we try to target is that the experience and impression that the user receives is the same across all browsers and across all platforms. If we could also open this up in Windows, you would see a difference in size of text and in a color shift as well. So just keep in mind, it's a moving target. You just have to make it feel good and make it work so that if they open one in one browser and then later open in another browser, in their memory it's exactly the same experience.
I am going to close the Safari browser and go back into my Firefox browser and expand that. Now, because we really have a webpage, we have structure, we have HTML, we have CSS style sheets, I'm going back to my Web Developer toolbar and use some of those tools to see what's going on in my page. Let's click on the CSS dropdown menu and choose View CSS. So this is great, it finds all of my styles, it lets me know they in fact are embedded styles right here. It tells me those embedded styles exist inside of this document right here styleguide_03 .html and I can see all of the styles right there. This is great for me, it's easy to find. I can even print this out, show this to other people, use it on my team. So I'm going to close that tab.
The other thing I would like to check out is how does my structure look inside of the Web Developer toolbar. Have I created a good, sound structure, a semantically correct structure? So I'll select the Outline and go through the dropdown and Outline my Block Level Elements. Wow! That looks really good, just the way I would like that to be. The strongest structure is one box right on top of the other box or one rectangle right on top of the other rectangle. This is also good because it's color coded. The red indicates to me that these are my H1 and P tag or tags that effect text. The green indicates lists, different tags that deal with lists, are unordered, ordered and definition lists, and the purplish blue indicates the table that I inserted.
So this gives me a very visual way of looking at my website. I use the Web Developer toolbar a lot with my clients. It's a good teaching tool. It informs them about what we are doing and the kind of work that it takes to create a really good web standards, acceptable webpage. One last thing you can do also in Outline, if you want to see the names of those tags you can click on Outline and say Show Element Names when Outlining. Again, a feature that I really like. It makes it easy as a beginner to start learning these tags and understanding how they work inside of Dreamweaver, inside of HTML, and most importantly, how they work for the user inside of a browser.
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