Many amateur web designers look up to the skills of other designers without knowing that many simple tricks exist in order to create some very nice looking web sites.
HTML is quite a difficult language for laying out text and graphics. The advent of Cascading Style Sheets made this a lot better, but a very simple solution to the problem of layout is to use tables that don’t contain borders. Within HTML, this can be done by adding the attribute BORDER=”0″ to the TABLE tag. Nevertheless, most HTML editors, such as Dreamweaver and FrontPage, will enable you to set the border to 0 as one of the table’s properties.
Perhaps the biggest problem some newcomers have to face is in finding suitable images that look fine. In most cases, images can be found through the use of a simple Google image search. More often that usual, these images will be used under copyright so their use risks potential legal action. One method around this is to buy royalty-free images on CD / DVD or directly from the Web. Obviously, you will need to take care to check the license agreement. For instance, the images might only be royalty-free for non-commercial uses. Another option is to take your own images using a digital camera (or scanning in your own photos). Once again, in order to minimize the risk of legal action you should try to get permission from people shown in the photos before putting them up on the web.
Even after you locate or create images, a good design might still be difficult given the ‘blocky’ nature of the photos that will typically be in a rectangular shape. This will lead to the major tip for improving your web site design. If you use stock photos, look for ‘photo-objects’ instead of photos. These are photos which have had the background taken away. Where the background should be is in fact transparent, which implies that you can put the photo-objects onto any background.
When you use your own images, you can very easily create photo-objects through the use of a ‘green screen’ behind the subject you are taking photos of. You can load the image into any piece of imaging software that has a magic wand tool. Then you can simply click on a section of the green screen and press delete in order to remove the background.
There is nothing ‘miraculous’ about a green screen. Any bit of material that has a consistent color and is fairly flat should be okay. Green or blue work best as these are very different from skin tones that don’t disappear when you make use of the magic wand. (Obviously, if they are wearing green clothes these might suddenly become transparent).
Backgrounds can be taken away through the use of a magic wand tool (and eraser for fine details) from photos with a normal background, but you can expect to take many steps and more time. Even if you cannot remove the background you can also add some spice to your images with simple steps such as adding a drop shadow or adding a frame such as a photograph.
With all these simple steps you should be able to develop web sites that look a lot more professional.
James Reid is contributing editor at WebDesignArticles.net. This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.