Designing for the Web ~ Getting Started
Just like a carpenter, a designer will have his favourite tools. Just like a carpenter, different designers have different tool preferences. One will like a claw hammer, the other, Photoshop! I, for example, prefer Adobe Photoshop over Adobe Fireworks for creating layouts. I prefer sticky notes and layout pads over Omnigraffle for creating wireframes. I prefer Panic’s Coda over Textmate for writing my HTML and CSS. The designer’s toolbox could be rammed full of different applications to suit different needs. In fact, many designers continue to search for the perfect application to suit a particular job. What follows in this chapter are the tools I prefer. There is no right or wrong, best or worse — these are just the tools that I have found suit me best.
Now, I’m fussy when it comes to pens. I can’t stand ordinary, cheap ball—point pens, (they leak), or fountain pens, (they leak too). For a while now I’ve used two types of pen: a Sharpie Twin Tip, (black), and a Pilot V—5 Hi Techpoint. The Sharpie has a thick nib, the Pilot a small nib. They don’t leak, and, if you can stand the smell of the Sharpie, they last for ages.
Browsers One of the challenges of designing for the web is not knowing the user’s browsing experience. They could be viewing your carefully crafted design in the latest version of Firefox, or, Internet Explorer 5. There are many browsers for the users to choose from, all with multiple versions, each slightly better than the previous. I’m going to highlight a few here, that I believe are the top browsers, (by usage), in the world today.
Pen and Paper If there’s one thing I can be sure of, I’d be completely and utterly lost without a pen and a sketchbook at arms reach. Even now as I type this, I can see three sketchbooks on my desk. You don’t need a Moleskine or anything fancy — any sketchbook will do. I often keep several going at a time: ß A Moleskine esque sketchbook — A5 size, this one goes with me everywhere. ß An A4 lined notepad. This lives on my desk at work — mostly for writing ideas down or that kind of thing. ß An A3 layout pad — You can buy these in most art and design supply shops. The paper is thin, which makes tracing easy. I tend to do most of my wireframing and large scale sketching on this pad. ß Little A6 book — This one stays in my coat pocket. Perfect for jotting down those ideas whenever they may occur.
The most ubiquitous browser on the planet, totaling over 68% of the browser market share in 2008 (for versions 4 — 8)* shipped with the Windows operating system, Internet Explorer has been responsible for more wasted development hours, and lost sleep and hair, than perhaps any other browser in the webs relatively short history. Up until version 6, Internet Explorer got a lot wrong, particularly with CSS, that made designing for it a bit of a nightmare. This perpetuated the ‘browser sniffing’ — where a script in the web page detects * Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers
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Designing for the web