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Designing Special Feature Pages
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Designing Special Feature Pages

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  • 1. Designing Special Feature Pages College Web Design Camp 2009 Session Six By Jackie Hai July 9, 2009
  • 2. Examples http://www.amherstwire.com/features/13th-hour-reprieve
  • 3. Examples http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2009/congo/index.html
  • 4. Examples http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/topics/water/
  • 5. Examples http://www.boston.com/news/specials/kennedy/
  • 6. Common design elements Wall-to-wall graphical content, no ads Bold typography Rich colors and textures Multimedia in A1 section Print-style page design and layout Attention-grabbing intro Content organized in chapters
  • 7. Why make feature pages? Break down a complex story into navigable parts Present multimedia-rich content in a unified package Create an "evergreen" resource • (e.g. AmherstWire.com's Economic Stimulus 101: http://www.amherstwire.com/features/economic-stimulus-101) Pull together related stories in a topical page • (e.g. Matt Thompson's "Newsless" concept: http://newsless.org/ blogtest/sample.html)
  • 8. What not to do Cookie-cutter template → Multimedia buried → ← Ad Ad → ← Unrelated content ← Long, unformatted text http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/31/AR2009053102510.html
  • 9. Step 1 Organizing story elements 1. List all multimedia and text pieces to be used 2. Choose a lead multimedia and/or text piece 3. Rank remaining content by relevance/importance 4. Break long text into chapters
  • 10. Step 2 Page layout/wireframing Give each element its own layer in Photoshop to speed conversion from mock-up to code. Story elements are building blocks of the feature Keep hierarchy in mind when arranging elements: give the most compelling content the most screen real estate
  • 11. Step 3 Adding graphics and color Use the eyedropper tool to pull colors from photos for use in the page design. Colors should be bold but complement, not overwhelm, content Avoid stock/clip art; use images originating from the story
  • 12. Step 4 Typography and white space Uncluttered feel improves retention of focus Guide the user's eye by drawing attention to the right places Limit to 2-3 fonts for simplicity and unified design
  • 13. Step 5 Converting mock-up to code Use the "float" property to line up divs side by side. Assign each major block to a CSS div Smaller blocks are nested inside larger ones
  • 14. Step 6 Testing and accessibility Don't let this happen to you! Perform cross-platform checks early and often Test on all major browsers, on Windows and Mac Design pages to fail gracefully
  • 15. Inline CSS styles One-shot design on the fly The "style" attribute can be placed in any HTML tag to override pre-existing CSS definitions Pros: Simple solution for customizing CMS pages Don't have to mess with site templates Cons: Time-consuming to make page-wide style changes
  • 16. Useful tools and plugins Expanding Text: http://www.dagondesign.com/articles/expanding-text-plugin-for-wordpress/ Shadowbox JS: http://sivel.net/wordpress/shadowbox-js/ WordPress Gallery Slideshow: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-gallery-slideshow/
  • 17. Takeaways Great design can't fix weak content, but bad design can ruin great content Compelling presentation adds value and raises news above mere commodity level Lead with your most sensory-engaging elements Break down information into chapters to form a narrative Use inline CSS styles to rapidly deploy one-time designs Test thoroughly before launch; even the best laid out feature page is useless if it breaks for half your audience