5 Strategies for Mobile First Design

Do you develop your website with a mobile responsive or mobile first design strategy? How do I know which one that I am using? Mobile responsive uses CSS to adjust the design to look good when viewed on different devices. Your design may have started out for desktop and updated to work on mobile. Mobile first focuses on designing for mobile users and their devices first. With the numbers of people who use the Internet through a smartphone or table, you want to make sure that your site is usable and fast for them.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

What mobile strategies can you use?

1. Keep your content short
Use writing tools like Grammarly and Hemingway to help you write better and keep it short.

2. Keep your site simple
Review your website. Look at the number of pages and links in your navigation bar. You may have too many. Consider getting rid of old and unnecessary pages and links. Are your pages cluttered? Do they have too much information crammed onto them? Use white space to add breathing room between different pieces of information. Can you reduce the number of columns you use to two or one? On mobile, you want to limit the number of columns used. Two or less is recommended.

3. Use Mobile First Design practices
Use white space, vivid colors, bold shapes and strong typographic elements in your design. Do you need to use photos? You can use a mix of stock and real photos to create a unique brand. Remember to optimize the photos for the web. Photos with large file sizes can slow your site down.

4. Make your site fast
Your site needs to load fast. People will leave a website with performance issues. On mobile, it is even more important. What can you do to speed it up?

5. Test and get feedback
How do you test your website without access to different devices and users? You have to test as best you can.

  • Test your website with an online testing tool to see how it works on different devices.
  • Test on many real devices as possible.
  • Ask your co-workers or staff if they like how the website works.

Whether your visitors use a phone, tablet or desktop, you want to make the experience a good one. By designing for mobile first, you can make design decisions that help create a good user experience.

Making a Dark Mode For Your Website

Do you use dark themes or dark mode in your text editor? You can offer website visitors a choice of dark or light modes. Some people prefer using the dark mode because it is easier on their eyes.

Making a Dark Mode For Your Website
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

What do you need to create a dark mode?

The only tools you need are HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You can use a button to allow your visitors to select between modes or use media queries that check their operating system for their preference.

Toggle example

Ananay Negoi uses CSS Variables and a button to toggle between light and dark mode. She demonstrates how to build the Dark-Light mode switch.

Level 5 Media Query

Level 5 Media Query checks your operating system for your preference for a light or dark mode. You can use this query to automatically set the mode for each visitor.

Designing for dark mode

When you create a dark mode for your website, it involves more than switching the colors to darker ones. You need to consider how color, fonts, images affect the readability and usability of your website. Your website reflects your brand. You want to think about how a dark mode can affect your brand. Andy Clarke walks you through the steps he took when he created a dark mode version of his website.

Dark Mode Resources

If you want to implement a dark mode design of your website, refer to these resources on how to do it.

5 CSS Frameworks For Your Next Project

What CSS Frameworks do you use? A framework like Bootstrap can be customize to suit your needs. Sometimes you have override the standard styles to get the design to work. You may want to use a framework that is flexible and doesn’t make design decisions for you. Here are 5 frameworks that you can use in your next project.

5 CSS Frameworks For Your Next Project
Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

Pure CSS

Pure.css is small, responsive CSS framework. It allows you to easily create your own styles while providing responsive layout and common UI components. Pure.css is flexible that you can use it with other frameworks like Bootstrap without any issues. Monty Shokeen explains how you can start using [this framework] (https://www.sitepoint.com/introducing-pure-css-lightweight-responsive-framework/) in your next project.

Mini CSS

Mini.css is a minimal and responsive framework. You can quickly change the CSS file to make a custom design. It relies on CSS for the styling, so it won’t conflict with any JavaScript library that you need to use.

Bulma

Bulma is a CSS framework that is based on Flexbox. It is responsive, modular and free. Bulma is easy to learn and customize. You don’t need JavaScript to get started using this framework.

Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a different from other CSS frameworks. It provides utility classes that make it easy to rapidly build custom user interfaces. Tailwind doesn’t make design decisions for you. You can create a completely custom design without having to overriding a bunch of pre-built classes.

Materialize CSS

Materialize is a modern, responsive framework based on Material Design. You can choose to use the standard version with CSS and JavaScript or the SCSS version. With the Standard version, you can get started right away. The SCSS requires a Sass compiler.

When choosing a framework for your next project, you may want a small and minimal one or something that works with your existing styles. These 5 provide you with different options to help create a custom user experience.

5 Ways to Organize Your CSS

How do you write and organize your CSS? Do you prefer to use a structured method or not? With CSS, you can choose to use an existing method or develop your own. Some CMSes like WordPress have their own styles. When you use them, you need to follow their rules and guidelines.

5 Ways to Organize Your CSS
Photo by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Your styles can get big, messy and convoluted over time. It can be hard to maintain. You don’t know what you can delete or change because you aren’t sure what problems it will cause. Without a method for organizing, it may get harder and harder to keep things straight. You can choose to use BEM, OOCSS, SMACSS, Atomic CSS or build your own.

BEM

BEM is a way of writing CSS created by Yandex. It is a very structured style of writing CSS. BEM has a component-based approach. This approach divides the user interface into separate components. BEM uses the structure of Block, Element and Modifier. It makes development easy and fast to update.

OOCSS

OOCSS (object-oriented CSS) applies principles of object-oriented languages to help you write CSS. It encourages code reuse and makes it easier to maintain. OOCSS uses the object-oriented principle of abstraction to make the code reusable. It helps you to separate visual elements like color, fonts and borders from the content. This separation makes your code easier to update. Especially when you need to change colors, fonts or other branding-related items.

SMACSS

SMACSS is more of a style guide than a CSS architecture. Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS provides guidelines for writing CSS. This style guide helps you build CSS that is flexible and maintainable. With SMACSS, you create your own rules for writing CSS.

Atomic CSS

Atomic CSS focuses on small, single-purposed classes. You build well-structured HTML templates, so that your changes doesn’t break your design.

Your Own Style

When you build a website on your own or part of a small team, you can choose how you write your CSS. You may combine methods to help solve certain design problems.

How do you choose a method?

It depends. When you are working on your own project, you can choose which one you want to use. When you are working on a project that uses a CSS framework, it may be easier to use the method that the framework uses.

The best way to learn which one you like is to read the documentation and build a project with it. Then, you’ll know when to use these methods.

Add Simple CSS Animation to Your UI

When you create a web page, you use tools like fonts, colors, photos, illustrations and shapes to draw attention to important parts and guide the user on how to use your page. Another tool that you can add to help convey information is animation. Animation allows you to add movement or motion on your page. People are hardwired to respond and react to movement. By adding animation, we can use it as another technique for communicating with our users.

Add Simple CSS Animation to Your UI
Photo by: Image by Ambady Sasi from Pixabay

Why use animation?

Animation helps you to draw people’s attention the part of the page that has changed, show users where to look next or highlight the arrival or removal of important information. You can use it for telling a story, branding and improving your user’s experience.

What do you need to remember when adding animation?

  • Don’t animate everything. Use it sparingly. Animation should help guide people on using your page not distract or confuse them.
  • Make sure it fits with your style or brand. If you are playful and not serious, you can use animation that has a playful aspect. If you are more serious, you want your animation to be simple and functional.
  • Don’t assume that your animation will work on all devices. You need to test, test and test again.

What kind of animations can I use?

You can add animations to a dashboard, web app or mobile only features. One popular method is to change the hamburger menu to an X. This change lets the user know that the menu can be closed. You can add animations to images on hover or in a gallery.

Hamburger Menu changes to an X

See the Pen
Animated – Hamburger Icon (spans)
by Steven Roberts (@matchboxhero)
on CodePen.

CSS Animation on Hover

See the Pen
Playing a CSS animation on hover
by Val Head (@valhead)
on CodePen.

Accordian Image Gallery

See the Pen
Accordion Image Gallery
by Stefan C. (@stefcharle)
on CodePen.

How can I learn more about animation?

CSS Animation Rocks
A CSS Animations Tutorial
CSS Tricks – Animation
Create Cool UI Animations in CSS