The Internet is a wondrous thing. It’s an unrivalled source of knowledge for its users, and as web designers and web developers, it keeps many of us from becoming homeless with "Will code for food" signs hanging around our necks!
As the Web matures, the devices that provide access to it have evolved along with it. No longer are we limited to "surfing the ‘net" on a 28.8 kbps dial-up modem. These days, we don’t even require a computer to go online — we have smartphones, tablets, e-book readers like the Kindle, and more.
The way we design websites has changed profoundly in recent years. We have more information on how web users interact with user interfaces, we have developed many testing methods for evaluating usability, and we now build sites with great emphasis on user-centered design. In addition, research in the fields of psychology, sociology and usability has enriched our understanding of our site visitors.
Much of the work we create for the Web has a limited shelf life. We know and accept that the work we produce will likely disappear from the Web within a few years of a site launch, if it makes it to that stage at all, or will be modified and changed from its original form.
Diversity is one of the things that make the web great, and every audience has its own needs and requirements. But what happens if that audience is comprised of a specific age group? Are you providing something fun and interactive for kids, or are you strictly an adult-only website (such as one that sells alcohol)?
Age is an influential factor on the web in terms of not only psychology, but also accessibility, usability, and user interface design. Many other variables can affect your designs, but we’ll focus on the difference that age can make in creating a website.
You can easily split the design community into two groups: those drafted into Dribbble and those who aren’t.
Despite me being in the latter group, I find it difficult to ignore the fact that snapshots that are supposedly showing what designers are currently working on are no more than art and idealized designs that don’t reflect the actual principles and real-world requirements of a usable and function-oriented design.
The web browser is probably one of the most frequently used applications on a person’s computer. For designers and developers, a browser theme can be canvas that provides hours of exposure to the artist or brand willing to create a theme for their fan base.
But with such an extreme landscape orientation and a range of functional obstructions, designing browser themes is a creative endeavor with plenty of pitfalls and gotchas.
There are many things to consider when approaching a new theme — from avoiding copyrighted images to achieving designs that work within the confines of a particular browser.
I teach at a middle school in the southeastern U.S. located in an area plagued with grinding poverty. The kids on the football team wear t-shirts with the slogan "From Nothing to Something," a brand that I find somewhat disturbing. Are these kids "nothing" before they join the football team, or before they come to our school?
But the slogan does apply to the idea of learning any new discipline or art: you start with "nothing" and after a time (hopefully) you achieve "something" — whether it is to become an accomplished web designer, web developer, a painter, or an auto mechanic.