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- Understanding aesthetics
- Picking harmonious colors
- Structuring your layout
- Using space to organize your design
- Communicating with the right fonts
- Aligning objects to achieve balance
- Adding movement with scrolling and animation
- Achieving proportion by scaling objects and text
- Creating CSS for different devices
Skill Level Beginner
The seventh and final concept on foundational topics in web design is originality and stepping out of the box of conventional design. As technology changes the way we design and build websites, we must continually adapt and then learn to express ourselves creatively in new ways. Trends will always come and go in web design. What's popular this year will most likely not be the trend in a few years in the future. Take for example the popular styles of websites back in the late 90s and early 2000s.
What was trendy then were crazy background patterns, flashing animations and super bright colors. Here's a few examples. Angelfire backgrounds, super bright backgrounds, super bright backgrounds. Or super simple layouts. Other trends have been popular in web design over the years. Remember Flash websites which took forever to load and those long tedious Flash intros with sound that everyone had on their homepage (SOUND)? How often did you click Skip if the Flash even had that option? Illustrated site elements were also hot for a time.
There's also been a huge explosion of the use of textures in what they call skewmorphism. That's when designers create designs that resemble actual environments such as making their homepage looks like their actual physical desktop, complete with the pen holder, post-it notes and a beverage. In the past few years we've also seen the prevalence of sliding banners and galleries, and we're currently in the midst of a flat design movement thanks in part to the explosion of web ready handheld devices.
Site alignment has also shifted with time. First there were left align frame space layouts, then fluid sites were popular for a time and then for quite while many sites had been center aligned. Site widths and layouts have also changed, too. Sites were often designed at 760 pixels wide for monitors with resolutions of 800 by 600. And for monitors at 1024 by 768, 1280 by 1024 and larger the standard has been to design with percentages or to go with a fixed width like 960, 1080, or 1140 pixels wide.
Likewise with layouts, sites were first designed at fixed widths using tables. Then some people adapted the fluid or flexible layouts using percentages, and then with the rise of CSS and DIV tags, fixed-width designs have been the norm for several years. Today, most designers are creating adaptive or responsive sites that collapse gracefully to fit a variety of web-enabled devices. Amazon.com is a really good example of a fluid site that expands to fill the browser width, while Home Depot currently uses a fixed width design that does stay the same regardless of the browser width.
Note however that neither of these two sites are responsive, so if I minimize the browser a little bit that stays center aligned, it doesn't minimize and neither does this one. So, what are you supposed to do as a designer when certain trends are hot, hot, hot? Do you follow suit or do you break from the pack and design something else? Many times the way you design depends on the type of client you're designing for and who that client's target audience happens to be.
After all, design is not a cookie cutter endeavor as some clients might think. Okay, but what if, and this actually happens a lot. What if you get a customer who insists that you create a site for them that follows a particular web trend? They may even tell you they want a site that looks exactly like X, or exactly like Y. And provide you with the URL, so you can do whatever it is that you do. It's times like this when you should ask yourself what it is that you want to do. Be a designer or something else? How you handle a situation like that is totally up to you.
But if you care anything about design, you may want to steer away from taking on customers who seem inflexible or demanding. What you should be doing in every instance is trying to create a custom design solution for each project you work on. To show you what I mean, here are few sites that are doing really creative innovative things in their design. We'll start with AIGA Portland's website. Though their site is fixed with in-center align, which is not responsive, what they are doing is they're breaking up the planes by using a lot of diagonal lines.
This keeps everything vibrant and fresh and interesting encouraging the visitor to scroll down the page to see what else might be there. They also have a fixed background image that doesn't move as the content slides over it. Next is the Lowdi website, which I've showed in a different lesson. And I just love that the way that they've broken up the space with color. Each little section is completely unique. And it's interesting as you scroll down the page. You want to see what's coming next.
Here's another site that I find extremely creative. It's a pair of designers. A web developer and a designer. So, when you come in, you click here and you then you see the his and her side, left and right. So, you can follow the arrows to see what each person is capable of doing. Here's a nice example of that parallax scrolling. So, the background is moving, the text is moving on top of it. There's a visual flow through with this green line which leads you from section to section and even little animated elements like the bird flapping and the leaves growing.
It's just a really clever unique way of exploring the space. I'll just continue to scroll down so you can see what happens in each little area till we get to the end. This one you may have already seen. It's about dangers of hydraulic fracking, and as you scroll down that drop stays in the center and it leads you from scene to scene. And it also educates you along the way.
There's little bits of text to describe what's happening throughout the process. And you're actually drilling down into the ground. So, there's this beautiful sense of movement as you flow, through, the design. The next two sites I want to show you are for shoes. And I think these again are extremely clever ways of highlighting the product in unique and interesting ways. So, the first is Saucony and we're just going to start scrolling down. So, the second section is different than the first section and as we continue to scroll we're actually building a shoe in space. It's so clever.
Trendy isn't interesting according to art directors and others who've reviewed a lot of portfolios. Instead, what catches their attention most is originality. New solutions and new ideas using unexpected layouts, font usages, and color palettes. That's what they're looking for. Innovation is hot, too. Given today's technology, art directors really want to see what you can do that no one else has done yet. In the end if you don't love it, you're clients won't either. In other words, always only create things that you absolutely love, be yourself, don't be afraid to take some risks and above all be original.