Arman's stuff
Styling and Design

(Thu Jan 26 15:32:42 2012)

The hardest part of web design isn't the stuff under the hood; it's everything that's in plain view

If you've seen the website in the last month or so, you've seen quite a few changes. It's getting a lot more of a usable, dynamic interface, for one thing - which means that all the bits and pieces I've had running around my head for that last few years are finally coming together. Some things, like the image viewer, are currently still broken - but have the chance to become a whole lot better, faster, and way more useful!

Oh, sure, it's a bit of a chore to get the programming behind the scenes to work right, or to get the javascript to play well with everything else - but that's the fun part. The hard part is what's coming next: making it all look nice. That's not easy. Never mind choosing matching colors; I also have to worry about the curved corners, border widths, and a host of other style intricacies. How big can the window grow? When should I scroll - ever? How much javascript does this need, as opposed to CSS? My previous design was very sparse on javascript; this one, not so much. It makes a lot of things a lot easier, but it also means that I have to have a reliable fall back for when the javascript doesn't work (or doesn't work correctly).

That's a lot to think about. Of course, there are other pieces of that, too; how many browsers do I want to leave out in the cold? Right now, I've designed everything towards Opera, since that's my browser of choice. Firefox works fine, too. Even Safari should do well, though I haven't tested it. Internet Explorer, though... not so much. At least IE 8 and below. It doesn't see rounded corners, or transparent buttons. I'm sure there are other things it misses out on (or messes up). IE 9 is a lot better; it at least has rounded corners, anyway. It still doesn't do the HTML5 <canvas> element, which means no neat javascript artwork. All of them do the web fonts. IE 7 and below, well... if you're using that, then you need to upgrade. There's no point in prolonging the pain.

Speaking of web fonts - check out this link. Fonts! Any fonts you want! In any modern web browser! It's a miracle! It's amazing! It's what makes those neat fonts in this very post! That's another part of the styles - neat fonts. Yes, I know, it adds a significant amount of overhead to the site, but I think I can afford a little overhead, especially since it gets cached in memory after the first time you see it. My previous site design was built around speed, especially since I run my website from my home server. Not a lot of bandwidth to go around. But all those web fonts are based off of Google's servers, so there is little extra load that I can see.

But why is it all changing? Why not just work on what was already there? Well, frankly, it's rather fun to play around with all the new styles and things. But really, I'm trying to make a design that is not only useful, but easy on the eyes. As much as I liked the color scheme before, it was somewhat cartoonish (at least according to some). I want to make it less cartoony, and more businesslike. Not too businesslike, obviously - we wouldn't want people to get the wrong impression - but enough that it looks like a real, useful website, rather than some knock-off blog or cookie-cutter homepage.

Of course, as I write this, the home page at has a blue-on-black fractal inhabiting the screen. Well, on Firefox and Opera, and possibly Safari, anyway. IE 9 displays it, but not well. And... it's not exactly subtle. Or businesslike, come to think of it. But that's part of the experiment; give it a week, and it'll be replaced with falling code. Or a full-scale movie, composed in Javascript. Or maybe not. Right now, I'm having my fun; who's to blame me?

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This blag is tagged: Blag, Javascript, Jquery, Styles, Wobsite, All