Web typography assignment

While I was away on a short trip to Quebec City, I missed the class dedicated to Web typography. Luckily, Mark was kind enough to record the class for me. Being a print designer and having worked in the magazine industry, I am already familiar with typographic contrast and hierarchy, but review is always welcome.

After a quick summary of the major typographic concepts, it was time to start  styling the articles we had selected. In the spirit of the subject matter, I chose to style an article on Paul Rand, a graphic design icon, and as a side benefit, got to learn more about him.

I enjoyed working on this project; it was pretty painless and although I struggled a bit with (up-to-now) seldom-used elements (table and definition lists), it turned out as I envisioned. Check out the result here.

I must admit that I do wonder about  the timing of this typography lesson. We have already built numerous websites and it kind of feels like this lesson and assignment should have come much earlier on in the semester. I’m sure it’s information that would have been beneficial prior to composite one.

Design-to-code assignment

This was a seemingly simple assignment that got way out of control for me. I thought I was pretty decent at the basics we’ve tackled so far and haven’t struggled too much with css and responsive design using the 960 grid, aside from the dreaded navigation bar, and in particular, the dreaded mobile navigation bar.

But this layout was actually built at 1024px, so I decided to nest a 960 grid within that. I managed to get the static desktop site mostly coded during class except for the form, and thought I was in good shape to make it responsive. I had already set some of the widths using percentages so it should have already been resizing fluidly, at least a little. But it wasn’t. Not one single part of it. So after trying to tweak things for a little while, I decided it might be better to start over. And over. And over. I think this final version is version 4.

To get to this stage, I have broken nearly every single thing, and usually more than once. I’ve had every block level element collapse on me, elements not centering when I thought they should, both vertically and horizontally. I’ve had trouble deciding whether an image should be applied as an image tag or a background image, and I’ve gone back and forth trying out each option. I’ve been on the verge of giving up on this assignment several times.

This isn’t perfect, but I have to stop working on because 1) I’m now growing to resent it and 2) I’m falling behind on all of my other assignments. That pesky imac illustration overlaps and doesn’t resize because I made it a background image. Maybe I could at least tweak the position, but I’m going to live with it now. I’m also pretty sure I was supposed to replace the images with their higher res 2x versions for retina screens, but I didn’t do that either.

Here are the final results: http://denisechan.ca/design_to_code/

To answer the Design to Code questions:

2. The layout uses the 960 grid…sort of.

3. The 12-column grid works best for this layout.

4. The main sections are: intro, services, portfolio, contact, footer.

5. I created body, header, nav, articles.

6. The full width of the site is 1024px.

7. Typical 960 grid has 10px padding and 10px margin all around. I didn’t have too many of the elements adhering completely to this convention though.

8. I probably could have wrapped the entire thing in a main tag, but I kind of thought they were all of the same importance so I didn’t use one at all. All of my elements are outside of main tag, though I don’t think it would be odd to have the footer, and maybe the nav outside of the main tag.

9. The only graphical elements i created were buttons. Now I’m wondering if I was supposed to make more? Maybe a favicon?

10. The “view my work button” was 140px wide x 50px high, while the “view project button” was 109px wide x 50px high.

11. I created the buttons using css a tags instead of creating a graphic.

12. The main colours used in the design were: #B9383E (dark red), #F64ES2 (lighter red), #E8E8E8 (light grey), #FFF (white), #000 (black).

13. This could have used a little letterspacing on the h2 tag in the contact section. The capital T and E are touching and that doesn’t look great. I find that letterspacing isn’t as subtle as kerning so I’ve mainly stayed away from it unless I want it to be really obvious that I’ve manipulated the spacing, but maybe I’m doing it wrong.

 

Calendar project, HTML 5 + CSS 3

In the beginning…

So, I have to admit, I didn’t start this project when I should have. I wasn’t struck by inspiration when I was first given this project, so it took me a while to get moving. I found a few ideas on Hongkiat and decided that I really liked the look of the calendars where you could see all 12 months up in a grid. I also knew that I wanted something very visual, with good photography. But what should I use for my subject matter?

I initially thought I’d design a calendar featuring my horrible-adorable dog, Nibbler (named after this cutie from Futurama). My husband and I had been planning on making a printed calendar of him for years but we didn’t know if we had enough seasonally relevant images to fill 12 months. I set to work making a basic mockup of how those images would look together, and the result is below. Not bad, but I wasn’t sure there would be enough room for the actual calendar part. And it’s still a bit of a stretch on some of images, making them seem seasonally appropriate.

12 images of a dachshund
Photos by Roy Tanaka

Plus, since this is supposed to have potential as a portfolio piece, it would probably be a good idea to use my own photography. I have accumulated quite a lot of images over the 15-months that I’ve had a camera in my hand. Unfortunately, I didn’t have 12 images I liked that were:

  1. Of any single subject matter or theme
  2. All of the same orientation
  3. Had enough space for the calendar part

So, after combing through all of my images, I went a little more abstract. I chose 12 of my favourite images that satisfied 2) and 3) above, then tried to figure out how to organize them into something that made any sense at all. Here’s the result.

12 images of various subject matter
Photos by Denise Chan

I ended up trying to organize by colour and feeling first, then subject matter. The first 3 images are for colder months, so I thought dark, rich colours would work well. Plus I could kind of build it around a soup theme (the need to warmed up). The next 3 images are for the months from spring to summer, so I started with colours that transition from pale to bright, and with people as the unifying theme. For the next 3 images, I picked images with colours that go from bright to earthy, with a nature theme (sharp-eyed individuals will spot Nibbler for the month of September, his birthday month). And finally, the last 3 images move from earthy tones back to dark rich colour, with an urban feel.

The execution

I wasn’t really sure how difficult it would be to code out what I wanted; I hoped to create the thumbnail grid (as shown in my wireframe) as a navigational element (using anchors) that would take the user to a larger view of the individual month they had selected. Since the minimum requirement was to have one month completed, I worked on the individual months first, which actually went quite smoothly. My biggest hurdles here were image export (I had to redo it a few times due to poor planning) and also the positioning of the calendar info. I had created 3 classes for vertical positioning of the calendar info; these surprisingly worked out really well. I just needed to tweak that position for a few of the months, either a little to the left or right. This proved extremely challenging on the month of May. The solutions I had used on other months did not work here; after a few hours of fiddling, I ended making it work by using a negative margin on the left side.

Navigation grid for the win

At the eleventh hour, I finally decided that I really did want this navigational thumbnail grid; after all, that’s what inspired me to begin with and I would feel like the project was incomplete without it. While my unordered list transformed relatively quickly, all those little finesse things I wanted proved a bit more challenging. I was lucky to have my husband stay up to help me figure it out, but it was reassuring to know that I wasn’t far off the mark. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my calendar. I had also wanted it to toggle with show/hide on the months using only CSS, but had to let it go. For now…