Have you Customized your Bootstrap website?

Once you have built a few websites with Bootstrap, you may notice that your sites look too much alike. As a web developer, you want your websites to useful as well as attractive. How do you fix this problem? You can customize how your Bootstrap looks. By working with and customizing the design, you can create a Bootstrap website that doesn’t look like it was made with Bootstrap.

Have you customized your bootstrap website?

What web development techniques can you use?

  • Create a custom style sheet
  • Use Custom Fonts
  • Add Custom Photography
  • Use Font Awesome
  • Customize Bootstrap’s Buttons

Create a custom style sheet

You want to create a custom style sheet to keep your design customizations separate from Bootstrap. Nothing more annoying than upgrading and realizing that you lost all of your design work because you added them to the Bootstrap CSS and forgot what you did. If you use Adobe Kuler or COLOURlovers color scheme generators, you can create a Bootstrap theme with the color scheme to start your designs from.

Use Custom Fonts

Fonts as well as colors should be unique to your website. By using custom web fonts, you can change how your site looks quickly and easily. When you choose the wrong font, your site can look bad. Where can you get ideas for choosing the right fonts? You can use the following resources Top 20 Google Fonts and How to Use Them and 10 Great Google Font Combinations You Can Copy.

Add Custom Photography

With sites like pixabay.com or Death to the Stock Photo, you don’t have to be a photographer to add unique and interesting photos to your website. With tools like Photoshop, you can crop, add photo effects and more to make a photo unique to your website.

Use Font Awesome

With Font Awesome, you can incorporate these icons into your designs. You can use them on buttons, navigations bars or anything else that you need.

Customize Bootstrap’s Buttons

Bootstrap comes with default buttons for you to use. You can customize the way these buttons appear in your design. Use this Bootstrap Button Generator to create the look that you need.

With web development tools like photos, Font Awesome and CSS, your Bootstrap website doesn’t have to look like a standard Bootstrap website. You can customize it to look the way you want.

Mobile Design Typography

Content is the most important element of your website. With a wide range of mobile devices available to people, your websites and apps must be readable on all. To maintain the readability of your content, you need to consider the fonts you choose, size, contrast and line length. How do you use Mobile Design Typography to make your content responsive and readable?

Mobile Design Typography

Fonts

Not all fonts look good on a small screen. Display fonts like script fonts may look good on a desktop screen, but on mobile they can shrink down too small to read. A script font like League Font is fine for the desktop, but on mobile it can be unreadable.

League Font

What are your options?
You could increase the size of the font. At a larger size, your chosen font may be look better. Or you could replace the font with one that is readable on small devices. You have to decide if you really need to use this font in your design.

Size

Size is also important. Too small and your content is unreadable. People leave sites if they can’t read it on mobile. If you choose a size that it too large, it could dominate the content. It could take up so much space that you end up scrolling constantly while reading the page. You have to find a size that works well at that size.

Line Length

How long should a single line of text be? It depends. Readability is determined by the font, character and word spacing and the word lengths. Even the device that you are using can affect readability. A general guideline is 9 – 12 words per line. 9 – 12 words is a comfortable range for people to read. Line Length and Column Widths explains why your text should be about 9 -12 words long.

Contrast

What is contrast? Contrast is how every element in a design which includes font, size, color, line length and images works to create a good user experience. The easiest to learn is color. How do your color choices affect the design? With mobile design, you need to also think about size, font, line length, position and shapes. On Web Designer Depot, John O’Nolan explains how to fully understand contrast in design. He shows you how to use them for a better user experience.

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Summary

Your content is an important element of your design, especially on mobile. When developing for mobile, consider how the font type, size, line length and contrast can effect the readability of your site. If it isn’t readable, your visitors will leave. Keep them on your site by focusing on how fonts look on mobile.

For more information on Mobile Typography, check out these articles:

Building a theme based on a photo

Where do you get ideas for a theme? Do you start with a color palette, photo or website? I decided to use a photo to create a theme for my blog. I found a free stock photo and started design my new theme.

cropped-CurcuitBoard.jpg

How Did I Create the Theme?

  • Found a free stock photo
  • Generated a color palette from the photo
  • Start with an HTML Theme
  • Build the Theme in WordPress
  • Test and fix issues
  • Upload and apply the final theme

Generate Color Palette from Photo

I uses Adobe Kuler, now called Adobe Color CC, to create my palette. Here is my palette:

Curiosita Labs Color Palette Choices

Start with an HTML Theme

Using the color palette, I choose a color for the background, heading and more. Next, I built a test page in HTML. HTML makes it quick and easier to design in the browser. You can see your results quickly.

Test Theme In HTML

Once I had the page made, I evaluated the results. Do the colors look good together? Does the overall design do what I want it to do? I had some issues with the colors. They didn’t work well together. I changed out the colors and reevaluated the results. Once I got a design that worked, I started building the theme.

Building the theme

WordPress has starter themes. I wanted a theme that was responsive and simple to work with. At a WordPress meetup, they talked about using Underscores. This starter theme is recommended by local WordPress designers.

Next, I started adding my CSS to the starter theme’s CSS. I had to make adjustments to ensure that the CSS works with WordPress. If you don’t, your theme may have unexpected results. Then, I added my theme to WordPress and started testing. I had to make additional changes. A few tweaks to fix things that didn’t work that way I had planned.

What was the Result?

The result was ok. I went back to tweak the colors because the original colors didn’t work well for me. Working with colors from that photo was challenging. The colors work well in the photo. When interpreted to hex colors for CSS, they didn’t seem to look as good. The challenge was learning how to get the right mix of colors. Some choices worked better than others. The colors may look good in a photograph, but they make not work well in designing a theme.

This was an experiment. Not all experiments work out. From every experiment, you learn something. You learn what to do, what not to do and how to do better the next time.

Have you had success in designing a theme from a photo?

From Design Rules to Thinking Like An App Designer

Learning about Design? Design has rules, tips, tricks and techniques that you need to learn. As you learn, you realize that there is a right and wrong way to apply these. Some design rules can be broken. You need to learn when and how to break these rules.

20 Design Rules You Should Never Break

Canva’s Design School talks about 20 Design Rules You Should Never Break. When you are designing, you can break certain design rules. You first need to learn these design rules, so you can break them in a way that makes sense for the design. This article provides you with tips, tricks and rules on how to fix common design errors.
Thinking Like An App Designer

Why designers should never use fake text

Are your designs filled with fake text or lorem ipsum? Do you use it as a placeholder until the real text is ready? Jerry Chao explains why you shouldn’t use fake or dummy text. He suggests that you should write your own text. No matter how rough the text, you’ll see design issues that may not be found right away with lorem ipsum.

Flat Design vs. Material Design: How Are They Different?

Design styles change. New ideas on design can become popular quickly. Some are just fads that disappear. Anna Lisnyakn describes the difference between Flat and Material design. She gives you the pros and cons of each design style and helps you to decide which one works for your project.

What do you need to think like an app designer?

You want to work on mobile apps. How do you approach the design of mobile apps? Thinking like an app designer helps you to change your design thinking. To build mobile apps, you have to learn and unlearn new ways of designing. What works on a website, won’t work when designing a mobile app.

Summary

The more you design problems you solve the better you get at design. These tips help to learn what design rules you can break, why you need to design with real text and how to think like an app designer. What other design tips do you use?

Do You Need a Website Refresh or Redesign?

What do you do if your website is old or needs to change? Do you start over? Should fix what is not working for you? With a website, you have two options: refresh or redesign. Fix what you think needs an update or start over with a brand new site.
Redesign or Refresh?

Refresh or Redesign

What is a refresh? Fo example if your website was a house, a refresh would be like making over a room. To update your room, you may repaint the walls, replace a rug, curtains or even pillows and add new furniture. When you refresh your website, you leave the way the website functions and change how it looks. This may include changing the colors, fonts or even images.

What is a redesign? A redesign is where you start over. Instead of a makeover, you would tear the house down and build a new. With a website, you start over by building a new site.

When should I refresh my website?

Refresh or redesign? It depends on your needs. Why are you updating your site? Do you need to fix some small issues? Has your business changed and your website no longer reflects your brand? If you need to make small fixes, than a refresh will work for you. If you need to have it reflect how your business has changed, you want to redesign.

How do I do refresh my website?

  1. Decide what your goals for the website are.
  2. Look at your content and determine if you need to add, delete or update pages.
  3. Prioritize what you want to work on.

What are you site goals?

When looking at a redesign or refresh, you should reevaluate your site goals. Is it performing the way you expect? Does it reflect your current brand? Are there any pages that just don’t work?

Do you know what content your site has?

Audit your website by figuring out how many pages you have and what they focus on. Is each page current, out of date or needs a slight tweak? Decide which pages you want to work on, remove and update.

Prioritize

What do you want to work on first? Does your content need updating? Do you need to change the look and feel first? Decide what you want to work on and schedule how you are going to accomplish fixing or updating your site.

Summary

Your website should change to reflect who you are as a business. This means you may need to either refresh or redesign your website. What you choose to do depends on your goals. Sometimes, your may need simple fixes and refreshes your website is the best choice. Other times, you may choose to start over because it is just easier and a better way to achieve your goals.