Extending the Color Cascade with the CSS currentColor Variable

If you use Sass or LESS, then you probably already use variables in your style sheets and know how useful they are. If you don’t use a preprocessor, then you might be curious what the fuss is all about and why variables are so popular and how they can be useful. In this article, we’re going to get an overview of why variables are useful, and get acquainted with one particular variable: currentColor.

What are variables good for?

Variables in CSS are useful because they allow us to write more DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) code. They are also particularly useful for managing and maintaining large-scale projects that contain a lot of repeated values.

One of the most common use cases for variables are color themes/schemes throughout a website or application. With variables, creating and managing color schemes across a CSS document becomes a lot easier. For example, color schemes usually require you to reuse a few color values for different properties in the CSS file. If you want to change the primary color of a scheme, you would normally have to change all occurrences of that color in the style sheet. Using CSS variables, you can define a variable in one place (for example a variable named “primary-color”), assign a color value to it, and then use the variable as a value anywhere you want in the style sheet. Then, when the time comes to change this color, all you would have to do is assign it a different color value, and all occurrences of that variable in the style sheet will be automatically updated.

CSS 2.1 did not introduce variables. (Although, that’s not entirely true, as you will see in this article.) In 2014, native CSS variables that are similar to preprocessor variables were introduced; these variables are arguably even more capable than preprocessor variables. A CSS variable is accepted as a value by all CSS properties.

In addition to the new variables, CSS already comes with a keyword value that is practically also a variable: the currentColor keyword.

Mobile UX Trends for 2015

With mobile web usage outpacing desktop in 2014, and mobile apps accounting for most of the time spent on digitial, the importance of mobile UX is continuing to grow. As well, the boundaries are blurring between device sizes.  It’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish between mobile and tablet, with the ‘phablet,’like the iPhone 6 Plus, – straddling the limits between the two. So what kind of UX trends are going to drive mobile? In this post, I’ll walk you through a handful of them.

Responsive design

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By Tooroot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Responsive design is of course nothing new, however in the increasingly device and screen size fragmented world we are creating, it will continue to be an important trend. To some it might seem like old news, however many companies, large and small, are still behind the curve in terms of implementing responsive solutions. Expect lots of demand for responsive redesigns of existing sites. Excellent resources exist online such as Brad Frost’s This is Responsive, which details, for example, responsive solutions for navigation patterns. As a web designer in 2015, responsive web design is a bare minimum and a best practice. If you want to read more on responsive design, I wrote a blog series on the topic.

From skeuomorphic to flat to somewhere in between…

Establishing a Dreamweaver CC and WordPress Workflow

I grew up a chemistry nerd and still vividly remember the thrill of sprinkling iron filing over my mini Bunsen burner to view the sparkling fireworks. The idea that two elements could combine to such a spectacular effect was mind-blowing to me. I experienced the same synaptic joy when I discovered how WordPress and Dreamweaver were made for each other.

 

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WordPress is, undeniably, the most popular CMS in use today. With the lion’s share of the market (47.5% of the top 10k sites, according to BuiltWith.com), vast array of templates and plug-ins, not to mention an ever-evolving ease-of-use, WordPress offers a direct route to a wide spectrum of site destinations. But what if you don’t want to go exactly where a WordPress template says you should? What if your client—or your own personal design sense—requires a custom online presence? Then let me introduce you to the best design and coding partner WordPress never knew it had: Dreamweaver CC.

I’m a huge fan of the Dreamweaver / WordPress workflow and having combined these two elemental power tools for years to construct sites for clients who need content management capabilities along with a personalized look-and-feel. Dreamweaver is, I believe, well-suited to the task, not only as a design engine to perfect the front-facing site, but also as an efficient coding environment for handling custom, inevitably necessary, PHP functions.

New Dreamweaver CC Starter Templates Make Responsive Design a Snap!

One of the great new features in the October 2014 release of Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2014 is the addition of five starter templates: About page, Blog post, eCommerce, Email, and Portfolio. Each of these templates provides a responsive structure to build a new web page that will look great whether it is opened on a mobile device, a tablet, or a PC. The About page, Blog post, and eCommerce templates are built with media queries. The Email template is built with tables, and the Portfolio template is built with Fluid Grids. This is a very positive step toward simplifying the process for those less comfortable with building a responsive design from scratch.

You can create a new page based on one of the Starter Templates by using either the File menu or the Welcome Screen. Although the screens are different, the results will be the same.

Web Designs We’re Falling For This Valentine’s Day

The possibilities for web design are endless. The industry is evolving and designers are looking beyond the frame to incorporate the narrative and visual components of film and television into their designs. Never before have so many beautiful websites existed, doubling as works of art and fully immersive user experiences.

We talked to three designers from award winning studios around the world to find out which websites they’re loving right now, and to learn how other web designers can incorporate these innovations into their own designs.

Valentine #1: Warsaw Rising

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A great example of incorporating film, says Clayton Kemp, creative director at Zen Den Web Design in San Francisco, is Warsaw Rising. Kemp’s portfolio includes highly visual sites such as Terra Gallery and Events, Alta Mira Recovery, and Humanity United – Performance Report.

“I really love how the overall aesthetic principles of the site lend themselves to an old film or map from the era,” he says. “They have combined a perfectly matched vintage color palette with just enough subtle graininess to create an awesome product. The site seamlessly blends modern technology with archive WW2 footage to craft a very unique and memorable experience for their users.”

Designed by Warsaw’s Bright Media, Kemp says Warsaw Rising’s main goal is to educate through entertainment, a trend he expects will be huge in the coming years.

Designers can learn a lot from this site, Kent says.

  • The stylish and contemporary UI does not detract from the vintage theme
  • The design invites users to walk through the narrative, rather than having to flip from page to page
  • It’s also been optimized for web flawlessly, loading quickly despite being visual and interactive

“All of these elements make this piece remarkable,” Kemp says.

5 Things to Do In 2015 to Make You A Better Web Designer

It takes talent, time and innovation to turn someone’s vision into something tangible, to take an idea down from the clouds and translate it into an experience. While practice will certainly make you a better web designer, there are things you can start doing right now that will immediately help you improve your designs.

1. Take out a pen and a pad of paper.

Web designers spend a lot of time building things in applications such as Dreamweaver and Photoshop, but sometimes the best way to hash out an idea is the good old-fashioned way. Don’t be afraid to write notes and organize information on paper beforehand so you have a better idea of how to approach the design later. Drawing or sketching your ideas can help you pull together concepts, layout ideas, and experiment with styles, all while simultaneously allowing you to see your designs through the lens of a different medium. And if you use smart technology like the Creative Cloud connected notebook you can save time by importing your sketches directly into the program using an app.

Is Flat Design a Web Design Standard That’s Here to Stay? 10 Designers Chip In

These days, the number one thing that’s required of web designers working on anything (that’s anything) is to make sure that their creation “has this flat feel about it.” In other words, the term “flat design” has become almost synonymous with “good design.”

But is flat design just a temporary trend, or is it here to stay and we’ll be designing flat websites for years to come? Can it be, perhaps, the new standard of web design?

Let’s find out.

To help me solve this mystery, I’ve invited 10 designers and web design experts to share their input on one big question:

  • Is flat design something that’s here to stay, or will it fade to make room for another, completely new trend?

Leverage Creative Cloud Files For Your Dreamweaver Code

Creatives create files, and files take up space. Luckily, Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers are covered. With Creative Cloud Files, subscribers have access to 20 GB of file storage that can be used for backups, link sharing, folder collaboration, and more.

In this post, I will show how you can upload your code to Creative Cloud Files and sync to it from anywhere – work or home – with ease.

Get started:

  1. Locate the ‘Creative Cloud Files’ folder on your computer.Creative Cloud File
  2. Create a folder inside the ‘Creative Cloud Files’ folder. Let’s call this new folder ‘SampleProject’.
  3. Copy all source code (HTML, CSS, PHP, JS, etc.) to the ‘SampleProject’ folder.
  4. Create a new Site in Dreamweaver with Local Site Folder path set to ‘SampleProject’ folder.New Site Dialog
  5. Your project files and subsequent changes will now automatically be synced in your Adobe Creative Cloud Files.

Your Questions Answered: How do I create a horizontal, center-aligned CSS menu in Dreamweaver?

We have received a number of requests from Dreamweaver users about creating menus, and we’re here to help! In this ‘Your Questions Answered’ post we’re tackling the basics of creating a menu in Dreamweaver. We’ll get more advanced in later posts, exploring how to create drop down menus and responsive menus, but for now let’s get started with a solid foundation to build off of.

If you are new to Dreamweaver, see our previous ‘Your Questions Answered’ post which walks you through setting up a site in Dreamweaver. Once you have a site set-up, you’re ready to rock this tutorial.

Let’s get coding!