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Nice software company web design templates?

I'm looking to build a basic web site for my software company, but we need something that looks very professional.  The samples that come with Front Page and Dreamweaver don't cut it.

What I really want is a piece of software that can automate button creation for me - I'd choose a background, font, and style, and then it would take a list of words and create normal, highlighted, and selected images for me and put them into a directory, with names like high_search.gif, etc.  If this product came with a set of nice templates, so much the better. 

I don't need any kind of WYSIWYG HTML markup tools, as plenty of those exist already.

Any ideas?

plasma
Friday, February 07, 2003

IMHO graphical buttons does not give a "pro" impression to begin with. They increase the serverload and load times for no good reason.

You can do ALOT with stylesheets and it usually end up looking cleaner and more strict. Remeber that you can hook background images to blocks and controll them via script or pseudo-selectors. That way you can have a spiffy look for your buttons with rollover effects etc, but the stylesheet makes them on the fly because you hooked it to the anchor-tag.

Layout-wise there are only two ways to structure a page these days. Menu to the left, or menu on the top. Or possibly both if you have a lot of content. Avoid getting to creative if you want your site to be accessible and easy to use.

Eric DeBois
Friday, February 07, 2003

I'm button creation ignorant so I'm all ears.  On most sites I feel like somebody wasted a lot of time doing buttons or they have the tool you are looking for.  So, I'm not a great appreciator of graphical menu buttons; but once in a while they turn out great.

I just redid a site because the original web guy went AWOL.  The first thing I did was to dump the buttons because I needed to add stuff to the menu and had no way to create more of the same buttons.  Nobody misses them.

tk
Friday, February 07, 2003

A word of advice: don't use graphical buttons or -God forbids- applets that draw a button that changes its color when the mouse hovers over it.

Take a look to some nice corporate web pages. Oracle, Sun, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, MySQL, are good examples. Nice graphics, but the key is "layout."

Anon when dumb
Friday, February 07, 2003

I also despise graphical buttons -- they scream "Beginner!"

That said, the app "Buttonz & Tilez" is probably the closest you'll find to what you want, for free: http://www.b-zone.de/software/bt.htm . It won't do them all at once, but you could generate all your regulars at once, and all your depressed buttons at once.

I did once see an app that did what you want, but I can't remember what it was called. It was by one of the big boys, like Adobe, and was kind of expensive.

Troy King
Friday, February 07, 2003

While I'm not a big fan of image buttons, I think everyone is kidding themselves if they thing they are in any way amateurish. In fact, you will not find many professionally-designed company sites without them. You can definitely get some good effects with DHTML these days but that is a fairly rarifed world (e.g., zeldman.com, boxesandarrows.com, stopdesign.com).

There are lots of outfits that sell inexpensive, well-designed tremplates. For example: http://www.templatemonster.com/

pb
Friday, February 07, 2003

No, pb, I'm not kidding myself. The template sites appeal specifically to beginners and amateurs. There's nothing wrong with being a beginner or an amateur, but it shoudn't be confused with professionalism. Image buttons take away from useability, period, and nothing you can say will change that.

On the very page you posted a link to, I had to study the page and move my mouse over things to determine whether they were clickable or not. That's way more thought than I want to put in to "show me some pretty templates and I might even buy one."

Except for the top-level use of graphical tabs, which are time-tested easy-to-use devices, sites like Microsoft, Amazon, and Yahoo make links look like links -- underlined text, usually blue. Tell me this -- without putting your mouse there, what does the image at the top left of this very discussion page do when you click it?

Maybe you think graphic buttons should have text on them, and that makes it okay, but that's a whole other can of useability worms that better informed people than me have written about. This kind of discussion never goes anywhere, though. Some people think the appearance of a page is more important than its useability, style over substance. Others think useability is king. I'm of the latter -- if I have to fiddle with a page to figure it out, I'm history, and so is any money you'd have made from me.

Troy King
Friday, February 07, 2003

To quote David Ogilvy one of the greatest advertisers:

"What you say is more important that how you say it".

Worry a lot more about what you will say that how it will look.

Matthew Lock
Saturday, February 08, 2003

> To quote David Ogilvy one of the greatest advertisers:
>
> "What you say is more important that how you say it".

70% how you look, 20% how you sound, 10% what you say." - Eddie Izzard

Pay attention to the content *and* the look.  The world is neither as fair nor as rational as we want it to be.

Hardware Guy
Saturday, February 08, 2003

I hate buttons.

I hate them as a user, and I hate them as a webpage builder. They are so 90s darling (if you live in SW London you will get the joke :)

I am not a web designer professionally, but I have done about five or six site redesigns in the last year or so for friends, and friends' businesses and the first thing I always get rid of is the graphic buttons, and the unnecessary java/javasrcipt.

I feel I have been successful if I create a site with only 1 graphic, for the logo. Still I am just a simpleton so .... ...

A lot of sites out there remind me of the time when word processors really took off... people would use ten fonts and a couple of clip art pictures in their documents, because they had them.

Still, there was a package called Net Objects Fusion which is a wysiwig html editor. It created buttons for you when you generated you website.

tapiwa
Saturday, February 08, 2003

I just wanted to add that using images restrict your layout to a certain size, which makes it harder to get it to work with different resolutions.

Eric DeBois
Saturday, February 08, 2003

plasma,

Do yourself a favour, hire a company to design your website professionally.  Have them to the HTML, the graphics, etc to your specifications.  Don't spend more than a few grand on it.  Don't pay for maintenance, do that yourself.  You can probably stretch the basic design to your needs pretty easily.  Don't use Frontpage (Dreamweaver is good for WYSIWYG).  If you need some new graphical element, go back to the company and get them to design it.

Good luck.

Wayne Venables
Saturday, February 08, 2003

Troy, go back and re-read the original inquiry. This has nothing to do with usability.

pb
Saturday, February 08, 2003

pb, it does pertain to usability when someone uses graphical buttons. And in case you didn't notice, I did point plasma to some software that did what was asked.

Troy King
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Your favourite scripting language combined with your favourite graphics library is a good combination for generating bespoke graphics. Try:

ImageMagick (http://www.imagemagick.org/), with bindings to Perl, Ruby, Python, etc. Recommended.

GD (http://www.boutell.com/gd/) with bindings to PHP, Ruby, Perl, etc. Functional but not as good as ImageMagick.

The GIMP is scriptable (http://www.gimp.org/), but I've never scripted it. It does come with a program for generating web page buttons, though.

For the record, I hate image buttons/mouseovers with a vengenance. They are a real pain on my dial-up connection, and the dumb webdesigner often hasn't tested them on anything but IE (I use Mozilla). I've used the above tools for generating graphics on demand from databases.

Tom Payne
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I just witnessed the rollout of a corporate site that changed from .gif buttons to ... Flash buttons.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, February 21, 2003

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