Tag Archives: responsive design

A Deep Dive Into HTML & CSS

This week we got to really dive into writing HTML and adding flair with CSS. In class we got to design a very basic webpage. Mine was simply “Welcome to my site” & “My name is Jessica and I am writing on my site” beneath it. For our homework assignment we were able to add a little more glamour. While I was working on it I thought I was doing such a good job and it felt like it was even taking awhile. Revisiting it about a day later, it looked HORRIBLE!! It looked so plain, ugly, and basic. But I guess it’s all in the process. That all goes to say, I’m excited to keep exploring the world of CSS. On Codecademy, one of the lessons prompted us to link a CSS sheet and it turned the boring HTML into a masterpiece. Get ready “Welcome to my site” — big things are coming.

Readings this week focused on utilizing inspect element to its fullest potential and responsive web design. Focusing on the latter, responsive web design is critical in today’s age. We are constantly switching between laptops, phones, tablets, and in some cases even our watches. User experience design is at the forefront of technology and web design. How can our users be more engaged? How can our design be as efficient and intuitive as possible? Responsive web design is just the first step. The W3 School article broke down how to customize essentially every aspect of a site — from templates to videos — to be able to make these aspects automatically configure to a given device’s mentions. Something as simple as an image scaling to fit varying dimensions can make a user’s experience that much better. The small pain of an in-cohesive site, truly makes a difference in how a user thinks and feels about whatever brand or service or personal blog your website is trying to promote.

Introduction to CSS and Designing a Page

Readings: Responsive Design

Going through this week’s readings, what stood out to me the most was the point Ethan Marcotte made in his article about the “more adaptive approach” being the way forward in web design. I think it’s important to keep in mind that technology is constantly changing, and as Marcotte points out, creating technology that adapts rather than just “tailoring disconnected designs to each of an ever-increasing number of web devices” is the only way to keep up.

Coding: CSS Intro & Homepage Prototype 

I really liked the way Codecademy introduced CSS in its lessons. For the most part, it was easy to follow along with the instructions and explanations. The trickiest lessons to understand were the last two on creating boxes and styling images. I think some of the explanations about sizing using pixels and percentages went over my head — as did the explanations about changing an element’s position on the page — and I will try to review these bits before class on Wednesday.

Despite how easy Codecademy made it seem, I had a much harder time putting together the prototype homepage than I anticipated. I thought the best way to start the process was to model my page after one of the pages from Codecademy and modify the code and content. The two things I struggled with the most were changing the color of the background and getting the text to move the way I would like. Initially, I wanted to change the background color to a plain white and fix the main image at the top of the page to have the text move over it as you scrolled. I think I did manage to change the background color after a couple of attempts, but, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t figure out how to configure the image and text to behave the way I wanted. I think my problem with the text came from not fully understanding Codecademy’s lesson on positioning.

Lastly, adding the code to GitHub also presented some challenges. Although I found the tutorial really helpful, following the steps the first couple of times, I kept receiving an error message that told me my repository failed to publish without any clear explanation about why. I finally got the files to appear on my account but am not sure exactly how I did it.

Google is a Girl’s Best Friend: My First Attempt at Coding

This week’s prototype homepage assignment was my first attempt at creating a webpage using HTML and CSS. It would be a huge understatement if I said that I struggled with this assignment. I decided to create a prototype homepage for a personal portfolio site/blog, and creating just a single page with HTML and CSS took a great deal longer than I had anticipated it would. I was grateful that I had completed the Codecademy lessons 3-8 earlier in the week, as it gave me more time to work on creating the homepage over the weekend.

I encountered a number of issues when coding the HTML and CSS for my homepage, the first being perhaps the most simple element of all—linking my CSS stylesheet to my HTML code. I’m going to be honest and say that it took me more than an hour-and-a-half of troubleshooting to resolve the issue and to correctly link my style sheet. This brings me to the title of this blog post—Google really is a girl’s best friend when attempting to code. I cannot begin to explain how many times I Googled various aspects of HTML coding and CSS styling while working on this assignment. I found that referring back to the Codecademy lessons was often not enough, and that I needed additional assistance from the w3schools site and other sources to correct my code. Some of the issues I struggled with included figuring out how to add margins around the text and image on my homepage; applying the classes, IDs, and div concepts to my HTML; and creating and styling a navigation bar. The latter concept was referred to during the Codecademy exercises, but I had to enlist the help of Google, a w3schools tutorial on navigation bars, and a classmate (thank you, Amalia!) to fully comprehend how to create a navigation bar at the top of my site. I’m still not entirely pleased with the formatting of my navigation bar, as I wasn’t able to figure out how to increase the space between the various links/tabs. I hope to resolve this issue in the coming weeks. I also want to figure out how to get my h1 headline and navigation bar to appear on the same line, rather than stacked as they currently appear on my homepage. Does anyone know how to do this?

I read the articles on responsive web design after I had begun working on my homepage. These articles reiterated the “mobile first” mentality that seems to be pervasive among programmers and developers. With the majority of sites being accessed on mobile devices such as phones and tablets, it is important that a site’s design accounts for the different screen sizes that viewers are using to access the information. This “mobile first” mentality is also something that public relations and marketing practitioners consider when creating content for their target audiences. Making your client’s or brand’s content easy to access from a variety of devices ensures that your audience will be able to access the content using the method that is most convenient to them, thereby allowing it to reach a broader audience. I’m still a bit confused about the concept of media queries and how to apply them in my code, but I am sure this is something we will cover in class in the coming weeks.

I was able to upload my prototype homepage without issue using the GitHub desktop app, but I did find that the interface of my desktop app was different from what was featured in the “Getting Your Project on GitHub” article. Despite this, I found creating a new repository and adding my code files via the GitHub app to be relatively straightforward.

Here is my GitHub prototype homepage repository.

First Coding Experience & Responsive Design

Responsive web design:

My current employer, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), is completing their two-year “responsive redesign project” of our external website. It wasn’t until 2015 that our leadership understood the important of UX design and the increasing use of smartphones as our primary web browser. Through the first reading, it explained how we need to consider not only the minimizing of a website on a computer screen, but also consider different size phone screens, tablets, etc. The width of the screen can alter the layout of the page, including the number of columns on a page, images and the content on the page. W3C created a list of media queries to help web developers when creating responsive designs.

Important concepts found throughout the readings:

  • Mobile browsers are the present and future. Web sites should be flexible enough to be able to adapt to new technology.
  • Media query: allows web developers to target certain device classes and “inspect the physical characteristics of the device rendering our work.” (from Responsive Web Design)
  • Fluid Grids
  • Flexible images
  • Viewport Meta Tag: <metaname=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″> (from w3schools) tells the web browser how to control/scale a webpage’s dimensions based on the scale
  • Design for a mobile application first.

Experience with coding homepage prototype:

If we are being honest, coding the homepage prototype took longer than anticipated and I have a new-found appreciation for web developers and complex websites. I can’t imagine the time and planning that would need to go into creating a webpage that is both responsive and complex. While coding for the homepage, which I created for a food blog, I ran into trouble translating some of what we learned through the Codecademy lessons to the assignment. I struggled most with the lack of being able to see in real time the effect that one small piece of code was having on my site and went into panic-mode when two lines of CSS code altered the entire feel of the site. My biggest struggle was finding ways to create exceptions to rules that I had created within the CSS code early on that affected the layout of the page once I began adding content. I couldn’t find an easy way to create rule exceptions within the code and instead found roundabout ways to add in additional lists. How can we create rule exceptions?

Secondly, what I struggled with this week was adding in an image. I spent close to two hours trying to link an image I had on my desktop to the code and have it display correctly. Eventually, I decided to choose different pictures that were already uploaded to my Facebook page and used those URLs instead. Despite searching endlessly on Google for an answer to my question, I still am unable to link an image that is on my desktop to the HTML. Does anyone have any experience or advice for how I may be able to do this?

Finally, uploading to GitHub was no easy feat. I had created a repository using the desktop app, but it wasn’t properly uploading the files I had created using Sublime. Through Google, this article and the help of my fellow classmates (thanks, Jaclyn!), I was able to upload the files successfully. The article has been bookmarked for future use.

Looking forward to creating a responsive design and using other coding languages, I’m nervous, but excited to see what I can create!

Responsive Design vs. Apps

In “Get Started with Web Coding,” I was surprised and, honestly, a bit horrified to read the author’s recommendation that we never go two days without coding. For someone like me, who wants to learn enough to be a casual, competent coder but not necessarily a full-time programming master, that seems like a lot to ask. By this rule, programmers would never even get a weekend off. I understand the thinking here, and as an amateur guitar player, I know the ease with which skills decay after a period of inactivity, but now I’m scared I’ll never become semi-fluent in code without dedicating every other day to practicing.

The articles on responsive and adaptive web design were interesting to me because, at work, my team is constantly trying to convince our higher-ups that we need the time and resources to create mobile-friendly designs for all of our communications. Their proposed solution is always the same—“Don’t we need an app?”—which is frustrating, because apps are not the best or easiest way to promote our services in most cases, but apps are what everyone thinks of when they want a mobile-optimized user experience. I think as programmers and organizations become more adept at responsive designs, stand-alone apps will become less necessary and less common.

Ethan Marcotte’s “Responsive Web Design” proved to me the idea that, paradoxically, it’s often easier to solve a problem when you have limited resources and choices available to you. I think organizations have been slow to embrace responsive design because it’s so much simpler to design three different sites for three different screen sizes, rather than conceiving a fluid design that can shift to match whatever dimensions it’s given. Folks who work in journalism, especially, are used to seeing exactly how a layout will look in print, and the thought of freeing the elements of a layout to resize and shift in response to a screen size change is frightening. We want to control what the user sees as much as possible—and responsive design is, the thinking goes, a threat to that control.