Network: Focus on colourful ideas

Web Design
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The Independent Culture
LAST YEAR I looked at the tools of the trade for web designers, focusing on shareware and freeware applications to download and then run on your local machine (www.independ ent.co.uk/net/980224ne/story6.html). Now, let's take a look at resources to run on the web itself.

Colour

Choosing a colour scheme is one of the greatest challenges a web designer faces. Here are a few online tools to aid you.

WebMaster's Colour Lab

www.visibone.com/colorlab/

Where to start when trying to define your colour palette? It helps to see how the colours work together. Visibone's useful tool gives a well- organised colour wheel of all browser-safe colours. Clicking on one causes a swatch to appear in an adjacent frame. Click on more, and they appear next to it for comparison.

Color Center

www.hidaho.com/colorcenter/ cc.html

What will all those colours look like in context? Will the link colours stand out against the background or just get lost? The Color Center allows you to select link, text and background colours and see what they would look like in a web page.

Color Mix

www.colormix.com/

Tired of the same old 216 browser-safe colours? Color mix allows you to form up to 10 million different colours. It takes a small dot of each one and places them side by side. Your eye then blends them together. This will not look as smooth as a solid colour, and some combinations look strange, but it is a good way to add variety to your website.

Graphics

For the most part we handle graphics with sophisticated, not to mention expensive, software. But there is one site that may go one step beyond this.

GIF Wizard

www.gifwizard.com/

Does your site take for ever to download? With GIF Wizard you can upload a single image from your hard drive, or point it to a URL to analyse an entire site's worth of images. The site then delivers a screen with the original image and optimised versions. It costs a few hundred dollars, but you don't have to pay for software upgrades.

Coding

When creating HTML or Cascading Style Sheet code www. independent.co.uk/net/980407ne/story8.html, we have to worry not just about cross-browser compatibility but also cross-platform and backward compatibility. Never fear, the truth is out there on the Web.

W3C's CSS1 Test Suite

www.w3.org/Style/CSS/Test/

So how do you know what CSS capabilities your favourite browser supports? Run it through the test suite - especially useful if you are creating a site with CSS or Dynamic HTML and need to know in advance that the CSS will work.

Web Site Garage

www.websitegarage.com/

Tune up your up site in the Web Site Garage. Give it a URL and it will deliver, for free, a report on the site, rating browser compatibility, load time, dead links, spelling and HTML on a scale from excellent to poor. For $10 a month you also get access to online applications that allow you to optimise your site.

Music

Whistle while you work. Or:

Radio Free Underground

www.stitch.com/studio/

Not really a design "tool", but it's easier to work with some good tunes playing. This site puts together a mix of 40-50 different songs from your musical preferences. It then plays the songs through your RealAudio player in stereo. Every time you run it, the mix will be completely different. As the Moz said, "Hang the DJ."

If you see online resources that you think deserve attention, drop me a line at jason @webbedenvironments.com. `DHTML for the World Wide Web'. Visit is available at bookshops. See www.webbedenvir onments.com for an archive of this column

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