Having made my decision to build a website, and having decided to avoid over planning, to stay nimble and spontaneous, I’ve discovered one of the pitfalls of this approach: it’s really easy to get completely lost in the mechanics of building a site. Not even the mechanics, the design elements alone could consume me for a lifetime (and I know, web design is a vast sprawling industry, yet having this knowledge didn’t prepare me for the experience itself). I have stayed up past 3am more than a few times trying to figure whether or not I prefer the orange #F90 (shorthand for #FF9900) to the yellow #DC3. Does the orange project the right amount of pizzazz? Is there too much gray in the yellow tone? Does it look too much like mustard? I sat for hours clicking through different color combinations until I cried (no, not from frustration, but because my eyes hurt). Even after settling on the background color, then there’s the font color. Should I go with basic black? Or slate, or some gray hue? Maybe a nice shade of burgundy? Forget trying to finalize the font type, the line height, and don’t get me started on what to do with borders.
I believe I devoted an entire day searching for information on how to create round corners for the square border of a column on my homepage. I didn’t find the answer in my bicep-strengthening Dreamweaver manual. I knew round corners were possible because so many sites have them. I wondered if I would have to buy photoshop and make a picture of a rectangle with round corners and put that on the page. Finally I found the instructions at this helpful site for css styling: css3.info
Of course, after learning what code to insert into my style sheet, I also learned that not all browsers are advanced enough to recognize the code, so some people may see square corners, others may see rounded corners. So why did I even need rounded corners? Because as a newbie to designing a
site, it honestly looks a little blocky – kind of amateurish, like something a ten year old would design using an etch-or-sketch. The rounded corners have helped, and I’ve also learned how varying the font size, the line spacing, adding in some thin and light borders, can all help add subtly to the site.
So, besides learning how to make round borders, I have learned another lesson – without a clear plan, I can easily spend my entire day clicking through infinite color choices and making myself blind in the process. It’s important to figure out how to balance the fun of learning how to design a site with the need to keep moving forward.