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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.
When creating styles for web page or a site it is important to remember to be playful, to experiment and to make adjustments to your design that satisfies your design and site objectives. In order to experiment you need an understanding of how and where to edit your style. As you probably have guessed there are several ways that exist to change the embedded styles. The first way is simply to go back down to Page Properties in the Property Inspector, open up the dialog box and make the changes right there. But you can also go into the Code view. Remember, I have told you over and over don't be afraid to go into Code. So let's go into Split view and let's scroll to the top so we can see our styles and let's make some changes there and see if there is some things we would like to twiddle and make better. I'm not sure that Verdana is the right font for this website. So I select the word Verdana and I'd like to see Trebuchet. It's one of my favorite fonts. So I type the word Trebuchet in, go to the right panel and click on the button Refresh.
Now I have an opportunity to look at that change, decide whether it's what I want or not. For me it looks like it's too lightweight. I like the forcefulness and the exactness of Verdana. So I'm going to select Trebuchet again and type in the word Verdana. Then click on the Refresh button. Yeah, that's the way I like it. I'm happy with that. So I experimented right there. There is a couple other things that I can try. Let's go back to Design view and as you can see we now have an active CSS Styles panel because we've added embedded styles into our head tag. I'm going to click on the top tag body, td, th. Remember td and th stand for table data, table header. And I see all the attributes and all of the values that I have created for those three tags. I'd like to change the font-size. Currently, I have picked 12 pixels and although that would be a good choice if I were working inside a Photoshop or I were doing print in InDesign. It is a fixed number. Using a fixed number is not necessarily the best way to go inside of a browser. Because if I have users who need to enlarge or reduce the text, this fixed number won't be able to be changed.
So I'm going to select this. You have two choices when you are creating fonts inside of a web page. You can use fixed measurements or you can use relational measurements. I'd like to show you a couple of my favorite relational measurements. The first one is just simply using percentages. Now I know you are not familiar with what percentages can do. So the place to start in using percentages is put 100% and see what that looks like. So I type in 100, select the second dropdown menu and choose percent. It's a little too large. So now I know that 100% is pretty big and 100% usually indicates 100% of the browser font, default font. I think it could be a little bit smaller so I'm going to select 100% again.
And this time I'm going to type ad and the % sign and click Tab. Yes, that's much, much better. That will stretch and the user can use the Command+plus and the Command+minus to make this larger and smaller. And it will stay in relation to the other fonts displayed on the page. The second relational font measurement system that I like is the em. And em is the measurement for the width of the letter M in the font that you are currently using. So let's try that one out. Again always start with the number 1 or 100%. So I'll put 1, click on my dropdown menu. There is em right there.
Remember it's the width of the em and again it's pretty large and it's very similar to what 100% looked like. So that's a good thing for you to know that the percentages and the ems are in the same ballpark in terms of size. So knowing what I know about 100%, I think I'll try 0.8 em. So I click here to 0.8, go ahead and type em, hit Tab. That looks great, I'm very happy with that. That meets web standards. It meets accessibility standards and the user inside the browser can enlarge and reduce the text. This is exactly what I want to use. There are slight differences between using em and the percent system. Both of them have good things and bad things about them but they are used a lot and they are a web standard and a best practice.
James Williamson and his Dreamweaver Essentials goes into much more detail about how to use them and when to use them. So there we have it. It's not that hard to make styles, it's not that hard to change styles. That's actually fun and part of the design process to experiment, be playful and try to make your page look as good as you can for that web browser experience.
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