Design Meltdown – Using spatters and drips in your designs

spray paint drips
My background is in fine art, not computer design. I’ve been frustrated by the digital, screen-based presentation of web sites. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to scrape, scratch, paint, and draw. My attempts at reproducing texture on web sites has been spotty. I wrote about my desire to integrate art techniques into web design a year ago on my personal site, www.tdrake.net.

Design Meltdown has a great post and folowing tutorial about spray paint texture and how to use it in your web design. It would be interesting to use this technique with alpha transparency to give your site a new dimension.

Hacking to fix for IE7

I’ve played around with IE7 for a while, but haven’t really started debugging with it until now. Fortunately, I’ve already set up the site to use conditional comments and deliver an IE6.css file and a separate IE7.css file. This has made it much easier to target the offending areas of the site.

IE7 has had a couple surprising problems for me. I have a topnav section that completely disappeared. The container div only has position:relative and inside are a number of floated elements. This actuall works great in all browsers… but IE7! No hacks for IE6, but hack for IE7! I went with the old adage, I think from Andy Budd, when all else fails float, if it’s already floated, unfloat. I added float:left to the container div and the topnav re-appeared from the IE7 void.

Munged Background Images

I’m using a series of positioning, text-indent, and background images on the site. Here’s a simplified version:


.targetdl dd {position:relative;}
.targetdl dd span {text-indent:-1000em; width:66px; display:block; position:absolute; top:5px; right:20px;}
.happy0 span {background:url(/images/happy0.png) no-repeat 0 -650px;}

IE7 shows the background image ok on some pages and on other pages, it shrinks the background image. I tried adding zoom:1 and font-size:100% to no avail. I’ll try line-height next. This is an odd bug, but not the first time I noticed it on IE7 betas. It certainly seems to be buggy with positioning.

De-bugging Strategy

Since I’ve already got a fairly solid ie6.css file, I’m going to use that as the basis of my IE7 CSS construction. After fixing the topnav, the rest of the ie6.css file is going into the IE7 css and rules will be removed one at a time. This should help me figure out what is still needed.

I’ll keep notes on this site as I find it a convenient place to remember them. Has anyone else come across some positioning bugs in IE7? Sorry, no screen shots or details at this time, we’re still pre-alpha stage.

Color Schemer and other online color palette tools

I’ve been using Color Schemer for several years. It’s a simple tool that allows you to find complementary and harmonious colors for your web site. I didn’t have the bookmark on this computer and did a search for it. Openmodo has a great collection of online color palette tools. When you need to choose a color, let these tools help you out.

Before you let an anonymous color generator determine your web site’s look and feel, you should take some time to learn about color theory. The authoritative book on the subject is The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten, of the Bauhaus School. While this book is small and fairly expensive, the knowledge you’ll gain will make it a worthwhile investment. You could also find it at your local library.

Stickies – control your to-do lists

We’ve all got our to-do lists. We’ve all got our mountain of post-it notes. We’ve all wished we could replace the mountain of paper with something easier. Stickies is almost too good to be true. It’s a very simple program that allows you to keep virtual post-it notes on your desktop. It’s there when you need it, hidden when you don’t. It’s small and spyware free. Heck, it’s even free.

I’m getting ready to do some CSS trouble shooting on a site. The first step is to create my to-do list in Stickie. A tree in Canada will thank me for using a virtual note instead of the paper variety.

Forcing the footer to always be at the bottom of a page

Cameron Adams (The Man in Blue) has created a method to force a footer to stick to the bottom of a page, regardless of how much content it contains. His approach is based on the work by Craig Erskine (solarDreamStudios).

The Setup

You have a page that terminates in a sturdy footer, such as this site. You’d like the footer to be cemented to the bottom of the browser window regardless of the amount of content. How do you position the footer at the bottom on a small page, yet not cause a conflict with long page? It’s actually more irksome than you would imagine.

The Solution

The footer is placed outside the content wrapping div. The html, body, and content div are given height:100%, which pushes the footer off screen. The footer then uses negative margins to sneak back up into the page. For pages with longer content, space is needed in the content div to avoid overlapping on the bottom.

Based off the original footerStick, footerStickAlt sets up the Web page so that it will span the entire height of the browser window, even if the content is less than the height of the browser window. However, where footerStick then used absolute “bottom” positioning to get the footer to appear at the bottom of the screen/content, footerStickAlt positions the footer outside the height of the content, and then applies a negative margin to get it to display inside the browser window.

So, where footerStick’s code requires you to place the footer inside a containing element, footerStickAlt requires you to place it outside the element:





You then need to apply a bit of CSS:


html { height: 100%;}
body { height: 100%;}
#nonFooter { position: relative; min-height: 100%;}
* html #nonFooter { height: 100%;}
#Footer { position: relative; margin-top: -7.5em; }

…For the case where the Web page content is larger than the browser window, the footer will be positioned naturally below the content, then brought up by the margin. For this scenario you should provide a bit of space at the bottom of your content which the footer can rise into without covering anything. This can be done with a bit of padding or margin on your content.

The only drawback to footerStickAlt is that you must know the exact height of your footer (whether it be in absolute or relative pixels). However, you have to know this roughly with the original version anyway, in order to make room for the footer at the bottom of the content. It’s generally a non-issue with footers anyway, as they have limited information and a sparse layout.

Cameron Adams – footerStickAlt