Build a Website With CSS Grid Starter Template

The best way to learn a new coding technique or design framework is to build something with it. I chose to build a website with CSS Grid. I wanted to take a book and make it a website. On Grid By Example, you can find a CSS Grid starter template that makes it simple to begin. The template has a simple two column layout: left-hand sidebar and right hand column for content. Plus, it uses an existing CSS Framework called Skeleton. I have used Skeleton to create WordPress themes.

Build website with CSS Grid Starter Template

What steps were needed to build the website?

  1. Choose and download a public domain book from Project Gutenberg
  2. Download the CSS Grid Starter Template
  3. Step up the new website with the CSS Grid Starter Template
  4. Modify the sample page with content from the ebook
  5. Create new CSS classes and modify existing ones to create the look I wanted
  6. Test and modify the CSS for mobile

Choose a public domain book for this project

You can download a public domain book from Project Gutenberg. I picked I chose Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett because I wanted to build a science fiction themed site.

Getting Started with the CSS Grid Starter Template

When you first install the template, your website looks like this:
Grid By Example Two Column Template with Skeleton

My next steps were to replace the template’s content with my own and start to add new CSS to start building a simple design. Then, I downloaded images from Pixabay.com for the website. I wanted a photo of Mars for the header and a better photo for one of the chapters. It had an illustration that didn’t go with the story. The final result looks like this.
CSS Grid Template with Black Amazon of Mars

Does it work on mobile?

CSS Grid is mobile-first. I had to make changes to the CSS for the additions that I added to the website. The CSS Grid part worked beautifully on mobile.

Summary

CSS Grid Starter template helped me to get started quickly. The template did most of the work. I didn’t have to figure out the layout from scratch. I spent most of my time creating the pages, adding the content and adding design elements to make the site look better. The starter template made my first attempt in building with CSS Grid simple and easy.

Customize your command line interface in Mac OS X

When you use you the MacOS for a development environment, you will have to use a command line interface to get some things done. With MacOS, you get the default command line interface tool called Terminal. You may notice that the Terminal window is a bit bland. What can you do? You can customize it.

Customize Your Terminal Window in MacOSX
Photo By: joffi

When you use you the MacOS for a development environment, you will have to use a command line interface to get some things done. With MacOS, you get the default command line interface tool called Terminal. You may notice that the Terminal window is a bit bland. What can you do? You can customize it.

Customize Terminal

When you first open Terminal, it looks a bit like this.

terminal macosx

To make it look better, you’ll want to change the appearance by changing its colors. It comes with 10 different profiles or themes: Basic, Grass, Homebrew, Man Page, Novel, Ocean, Pro, Red Sands, Silver Aerogel and Solid Colors.

To pick a different profile:

  1. Open the Terminal
  2. Choose Preferences from the Terminal menu
  3. In the General tab, choose a new profile from New window with profile
  4. Close Terminal and relaunch

Not sure which profile to pick. You can open a terminal window with the selected profile. In Terminal, click on the Shell Menu, choose New Window, scroll over to the drop down menu and select a profile. A new window opens in the profile theme that you have chosen.

terminal window themes

You can also tweak a profile by changing fonts, colors and much more. Open the Terminal’s Preferences and click on Profiles. In the Profiles window, click on the + button to create a new profile. Then, change the settings as desired.

terminal profile window

After working with the Terminal window for a while, you may want to change how it looks. You can choose to change the fonts and colors, pick a theme or create your own. What if you don’t want to use the Terminal Preferences window, you can edit the .bash_profile file. Whether you customize by using the preference window or edit the bash file, you can make the Terminal window look the way you want.

Tips for UX Writing

What is UX Writing? It is the practice of writing copy that is used in user interfaces to guide the user and help them figure how to use the website or app. You write your copy to ensure that everything matches the tone and style of your brand. Microcopy is the small pieces of copy that helps the user get stuff done. These little pieces are typically error messages, button text, helpful hints, notifications and more.

Tips for Ux Writing
Photo by Sarah Pflug

Why UX Writing?

It affects how the users interact with the UI. Good copy makes the user interface easier to learn and to use. It guides the user on what they need to do and doesn’t interrupt them. Bad copy ruins the experience for the user. It makes it harder for the user to learn and use the UI.

Tips for Good UX Writing

  1. Have a conversation. Talk to your users. Avoid writing robot-like messages. Use words like “you”, “we” and “our”.
  2. Keep it simple. Be brief and avoid complex technical jargon.
  3. Don’t be too quirky. Trying to be fun and cool can backfire. Use it sparingly.
  4. Test your copy on a variety of users. If they are having trouble understanding or using the UI, you need to change your interface or simplify the copy.
  5. Reflect your brand. Make sure your copy matches your voice and tone. Refer to MailChimp’s Content Style Guide for tips on writing for your users.

Copy is an integral part of your UI. The copy should guide the users and be unnoticeable. Good copy improves the usability and functionality of the UI. It helps a user to intuitively understand what they need to do. If you have to explain your UI, it isn’t done right.

More Posts on UX

CSS Grid Starter Projects

What is CSS Grid? CSS Grid is a CSS Grid layout method. It is designed for creating two-dimensional layouts for websites and applications.

CSS Grid Starter Projects

How to learn more about CSS Grid?

CSS Grid Starter Projects

You can learn CSS Grid with starter projects. They can help to build basic layouts. For most of your projects, you’ll need to build two, three and more column layouts. You can use starter projects to learn how to make these layouts.

Two Column Layout

Start building a two column layout. Two column layouts are quite common on the web. You’ll find them on most websites from blogs to startups.

Three Column Layout

After building a two column layout, you will want to be able to add more columns. Three columns is another common layout that you will need for your projects.

When learning a new layout technique, start small and build more complex layouts as you learn how to do it. By building with starter projects, you can see how you would use it in your real world applications. Not all of your projects will be simple. They may require more columns or additional features like a hero image or even a carousel. Build on your new skills by creating a production ready CSS Grid layout.

Photo by meisjedevos

Find Design UI Inspiration

You are working on a new UI. It isn’t working out. Where do you find inspiration? How do you make it unique to your design?

Find Design UI Inspiration
Photo by Matthew Henry

You find inspiration from live websites, design collections and design inspiration articles. Use these tools to help you create unique and better UI.

Why Design Collections?

Design collections can are curated by other web designers and developers. They submit the designs that they are working on and are their best work. From these collections, you can see what others have done and apply new ideas to your designs.

Design Inspiration Articles

You can use articles that discuss design inspiration on a specific UI feature. Like best sign up forms, call to action forms or newsletter sign ups. These small collections can help you to solve a specific problem.

How do you incorporate these ideas?

1. Analyze what inspires you

What do you like about the design? Do you like the fonts? Look at the type, size and line spacing used. Try changing your font sizes and spacing to create a similar effect.

2. Get inspiration from other sources

Look at print magazines layout and graphic ideas. Find book covers with color schemes and fonts that you like. Analyze what elements you can use for your design.

3. Pick an element

You may like the fonts, color scheme or even photos used. Choose one of these elements and adapt it for your design.

Summary

Design is about solving problems. It is about learning what works and applying different elements to your design. You can find inspiration from a variety of places. Draw inspiration from the designs you like, don’t copy them exactly. Take what you need and adapt it to make your design unique. It should look like it belongs there naturally and not somewhere else.