Design - Untame

How To Build A Responsive Lightbox Gallery With Twitter Bootstrap

Posted by | Tutorial, Twitter Bootstrap | 7 Comments

Integrating Twitter Bootstrap with PrettyPhoto


Images are a driving force of the web. Compelling images can bring visitors to your website, and exciting displays can keep them there. Over the past few months we have delved into the possibilities of Twitter Bootstrap. At times, however, Bootstrap alone does not contain every component that we may need for a project.

Today we will discover how to complement a Twitter Bootstrap-powered image gallery by implementing the PrettyPhoto lightbox plugin! The end result will be an excellent template to build out image galleries that are simple to put together and incredibly easy to manage. Read More

Twitter Bootstrap Part 3: Design a Responsive Contact Page

Posted by | Design, Tutorial, Twitter Bootstrap | 4 Comments

Twitter Bootstrap is a cutting-edge front end framework designed to make the lives of developers and designers a little easier, as it provides a semantic and responsive starting point for real world projects. Today we are going to take a bit of time to focus on a very real world project, the always important contact page. Contact pages should be simple and easy for a visitor to understand. Therefore, we make use of good visual hierarchy practices to add both balance and flow to the page.

If you are new to Bootstrap, it may be a good idea to get an understanding of what Bootstrap is and how you can use it, as featured in part 1 and part 2 of our series.


Check Out The Whole Series!
Twitter Bootstrap Part 1: What is Bootstrap Anyway?
Twitter Bootstrap Part 2: Design a Responsive Homepage
Twitter Bootstrap Part 3: Design a Responsive Contact Page

View The Demo

Let’s Get Started

Let’s take a look at what we will be building today.

Download the Source

The idea is rather simple. We begin using the Bootstrap Hero Unit to anchor the page and convey our initial message and purpose of the page. Next, we split the page into two sections, offering a Bootstrap powered contact form in the left hand side, while we offer our embedded google map on the right hand side.

Bing maps work just as well, if preferred. Simply use the same technique as featured in the video.

Our “Contact Us” page is filled with bootstrap functionality:

Hero Unit:
A lightweight, flexible component to showcase key content on your site. It works well on marketing and content-heavy sites.
Bootstrap Forms:
Individual form controls receive styling, but without any required base class on the < form > or large changes in markup. This results in stacked, left-aligned labels on top of form controls. Bootstrap doesn’t supply form functionality as much as it nearly perfects the User Experience or UX. Valuable hover states and built in validation are a huge help when coding a site.
Bootstrap icons:
140 icons in sprite form, available in dark gray (default) and white, provided by Glyphicons. If you need a bit more functionality you could also use the incredible Icon Fonts provided by Font Awesome
Well:
Control padding and rounded corners with two optional modifier classes (“well-large and well-small”).
Bootstrap Buttons:
Button styles can be applied to anything with the .btn class applied. However, typically you’ll want to apply these to only “a” and “<button>” elements for best rendering

Thanks for checking out our tutorial on how to get the most out of Bootstrap for your website. We have some exciting Bootstrap-related projects coming up here at Untame so stay tuned for future updates!

Top 10 Responsive Design Tips and Tricks

Posted by | Design, Showcase, Tutorial, Twitter Bootstrap | No Comments

Responsive design is changing how we view the web, literally! Whether you are getting started with responsive design or are a seasoned responsive pro we have a few tips that just might help with your next mobile project.

Choose A Great Framework


When beginning a responsive design, it is important to start with the selection of a solid foundation. Since the framework will inherently inform many design elements, you will want to carefully consider your needs. Will you choose a bare bones framework like Skeleton? Or does the scope of the project that you are working on require something with a bit more meat to it like Twitter Bootstrap or Zurb Foundation?

If you would like to know more about Bootstrap and Skeleton we have covered them several times in the past.

Minify Your Scripts & Stylesheets


It’s not rocket science but it is very easy to forget. Do you want your pages to perform to their maximum potential? Yes? Then get started with minifying your CSS & JavaScript.

Minification (also minimisation or minimization), in computer programming languages and especially JavaScript, is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from source code, without changing its functionality. These unnecessary characters usually include white space characters, new line characters, comments, and sometimes block delimiters, which are used to add readability to the code but are not required for it to execute.

Every website a user visits is downloaded in some form to their local computer. So, if you were downloading a large amount of files from a site, wouldn’t it be preferable if the content providers were to place all of those files into a single zip file? Minification essentially does the same thing, cutting out everything except for what is absolutely necessary. So be kind! Minify!

Squish Your Images


A majority of the time, the culprit for large download times is the ever-giant image size. So, why do we need to take care of image sizes? The very same reason that we minify CSS and Javascript. It is only to the benefit of our server and our users if, as a rule, we serve up the smallest file sizes possible that still serve to preserve the integrity of our vision.


Original size: 2.0mb

New size: 161kb … Which would you rather download on your phone?

Consider a Preprocessor


We have talked about CSS preprocessors in the past, and if you have not tried them yet, then please do yourself a favor and give a preprocessor a shot today! Once you begin to preprocess styles, not only will you have access to amazing mixins and in-stylesheet calculations but also automatic organizing and minification of your stylesheets.

Want to get started working with a preprocessor? It doesn’t matter if you use a Windows PC or a Mac, here are some helpful tools to get you started.

Develop For Mobile First


Perhaps you have caught on to the general theme of this responsive design roundup. So much of what constitutes responsive design can really be summed up in responsible design. Bob Dylan said that “the times, they are a’changing” and he was right! Mobile ready websites are no longer a luxury. If a brand wants to engage with its customers or if a restaurant wants to attract new clients on their night out, a consumer better be able to engage them from his or her phone!

Mobile-first design would dictate that the design of your site no longer has much to do with the layout of your site. Mobile-first design would suggest that a web designer must look to communicate a brand image through the use of color, graphics, fonts and design elements first. So, don’t think of the phone or tablet as a hindrance to your artistic brilliance. Start designing on the phone first, then with every iteration simply enjoy the extra canvas that larger screens allow for.

Get Testing


Does your site look great on the desktop, and pretty rad on your iPhone? Congratulations! However, I suggest that designers and developers take a look at the other screen sizes just in case. Not only can new electronics be cool, but they are also useful for testing! So go for it, grab that Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 that you have been eyeing.

Ensure Touch Friendliness




If you are using an awesome jQuery slider within your responsive design, it may be a good idea to double check that it is touch friendly. After all, having to mash around for little nav points on a slideshow is never fun. Engage your customers by integrating touch friendly elements.

Use A CDN (For Free)


Content delivery networks help to serve up files to your viewers in a responsive way that is likely closer to them than any single server company that you may host with. What’s better? Often, a good CDN will take care of image optimization and CSS/JS minification automatically for you.

Learn more about why we use CDNs by checking out these posts:

Use FitVids or FitText If Applicable


If you also serve up a bunch of videos on your site then maybe video size has become a problem. It can be hard to deal with video on responsive sites, especially since exact device widths can be unpredictable. We can fix that! The very kind folks over at Paravel and CSS-Tricks.com have created a few simple and lightweight scripts that will take care of large videos or even giant text for any screen that you can think of!

Be Inspired!


Responsive design is really cool! There are thousands of designers and developers that are learning how to morph their workflow to compensate for all of the new requirements that should be taken into consideration. So, take a look around! Check out cool sites like Dribble.com or Codepen.io and see how other pros are doing it! It is certainly cool to be inspired by the work of others and find ways to contribute as well.

Responsive Design: 15 Free & Awesome Tools

Posted by | Design, Showcase, Twitter Bootstrap | 2 Comments

Here at Untame, we focus our design and development strategies around a holistic approach to the web, across any web-ready device. After all, web usage on phones and tablets is growing more every day; that’s why a highly responsive internet is so important. We want to deliver great web experiences to as wide a swath of visitors, no matter how they access the web.

Featured below are just a few incredible resources that may just help web designers or developers solve a few tricky responsive design problems.

FitText


FitText makes font-sizes flexible. Use this plugin on your fluid or responsive layout to achieve scalable headlines that fill the width of a parent element. FitText provides a responsive solution to text size. No more fussing with 52px headlines on the iPhone version of a website, pretty sweet!

Fitvids


Flash video can be difficult. However with FitVids responsive flash video can become a problem of the distant past. Simply activate a bit of JavaScript and videos will bend to your every need.  (A very special thanks to Paravel and Chris Coyier for FitVids and FitText)

Skeleton


Perhaps the single most simple solution to developing a responsive website or project. Skeleton is a small collection of CSS files that can help you rapidly develop sites that look beautiful at any size, be it a 17″ laptop screen or an iPhone.

Twitter Bootstrap


We’ve professed our love for Bootstrap more than a few times on the site. However, did you know that Twitter Bootstrap does not only include the ability to design a fixed width responsive site. Bootstrap also includes a Fluid grid layout designed to fit any screen at all.

Zurb Foundation


To say Zurb is advanced would be like saying that Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson is only kind of smart. Zurb provides not only a responsive framework in order to layout a design. Zurb also includes just about every Javascript or CSS element that a responsive project may need.

The 1140px Grid System


The 1140 grid fits perfectly into a 1280 monitor. On smaller monitors it becomes fluid and adapts to the width of the browser.

Beyond a certain point it uses media queries to serve up a mobile version, which essentially stacks all the columns on top of each other so the flow of information still makes sense.

Golden Grid System


Golden Grid System (GGS) splits the screen into 18 even columns. The leftmost and rightmost columns are used as the outer margins of the grid, which leaves 16 columns for use in design. If you require a folding grid system. Golden is a great place to get started.

Now 16 columns sounds a bit much for anything other than huge widescreen monitors. This is where the folding, inspired by the DIN paper system and Unigrid, comes in. The 16 columns can be combined, or folded, into 8 columns for tablet-sized screens, and into 4 columns for mobile-sized ones. This way GGS can easily cover any screen sizes from 240 up to 2560 pixels.

Flex Slider


FlexSlider is an awesome, fully responsive jQuery slider plugin that is being cared for by the WooThemes crew. FlexSlider is easy to use. Even better, FlexSlider provides or hardware accelerated touch feedback where available.

Nivo Slider


The go-to slider for web developers and designers around the world is now fully responsive. It very simply just does not get any more simple than Nivo.

Style Tiles


Often responsive design simply does not mean exacting PhotoShop design placement. Styletiles provides a method in which a designers can communicate the “atmosphere” of a design.

Semantic grid system


If you are a LESS or SASS user, then you might want to take a long look at the Semantic Grid System. Tired of using unsightly layout classes throughout html markup? Semantic provides for pre-processed methods in which to apply relevant styles to semantic elements.

Spritepad


Being responsible about responsive design can mean cutting down on download times at every corner. A great way to cut down on HTTP requests is to place commonly used images within a sprite image. Spritepad makes it easy to create a sprite and even helps provide the relevant CSS code to render your sprite correctly.

Responsive Images


The Filament Group is at it again, delivering on a quick and simple method in which to query the relevant pixel density of a device and serve up a perfect image.

Retina.js 


When your users load a page, retina.js checks each image on the page to see if there is a high-resolution version of that image on your server. If a high-resolution variant exists, the script will swap in that image in-place.

TinyNav.js


TinyNav.js is a tiny jQuery plugin (362 bytes minified and gzipped) that converts <ul> and <ol> navigations to a select dropdowns for small screen. It also automatically selects the current page and adds selected=”selected” for that item.


As you can see, the responsive web is growing every day. Choosing the correct tools can make a web crafter’s job a whole lot easier. Take a look at a few of the resources above and let us know what your favorites are in the comments below.

15 Incredible Sites Built With Twitter Bootstrap

Posted by | Design, Showcase, Twitter Bootstrap | 2 Comments

Here at Untame we have a special place in our hearts that is only filled by one thing – responsive design and smart design (okay, okay: two things). Twitter Bootstrap is a flexible front end framework that provides developers and designers an incredible set of tools that they can wield in as large or as small a capacity as needed. In any number of uses, there are tons of great sites that benefit from the Twitter Bootstrap framework and we want to highlight just a few!

The Pink League


Improvely


Discoursehq


leanix


CodrSpace


BreweryDB


Opencooks


NoteSurf


Resource Guru


Gusta


Cup Trek


Bagel Hint


Percentage Calculator


Sweet Soundtrack


NameVine



Well there you are! As you may be able to see purely from these examples, Twitter Bootstrap is no one-trick pony. One of the things that makes Bootstrap so simple to use and beneficial to designers and developers is its ability to become modular. Want to use just the javascript plugins that Bootstrap offers and could not care less about the grid based framework? No problem! Just head over to the Customize page on the Bootstrap site and weave a web of awesomeness baked fresh just for you.

Just can’t get enough of Twitter Bootstrap on Untame? Check out a few of our recent posts.

Twitter Bootstrap: How to Load Sites Faster With BootstrapCDN

Posted by | Tutorial, Twitter Bootstrap | 3 Comments

Hello and welcome again to our ongoing series focusing on Twitter Bootstrap. By now we have covered in detail what Bootstrap is as well as how to design a unique and responsive homepage using the front end framework.

Today, let’s take some time to talk about a great new way to access bootstrap for any of your projects. Content Delivery Networks play an important role for the global web. Instead of downloading website files from a single hosted location, a CDN allows for users to quickly access site files from a large distributed system of servers deployed across multiple data centers around the world. This type of distribution leads provides for easier access to common files, increased security for your site as well as speed.


Twitter Bootstrap is already a great front end framework and it is increasing in popularity among web developers and designers. So it starts to make sense that we begin treating bootstrap like some of its CDN hosted bretheren like jQuery, jQuery UI, Dojo and more. So the very cool people at NetDNA decided to do us all a favor and provide a Twitter BootstrapCDN platform.

Using BootstrapCDN developers and designers can access the vital Bootstrap CSS, JavaScript and image files over a high-powered CDN that even includes SSL access.

To get going, simply link up your CSS files in the same way you normally would in the hea of your document like this.

It is a good idea to link up a local stylesheet after the BootstrapCDN link in order to provide a semantic method of modifying incoming bootstrap styles.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://netdna.bootstrapcdn.com/twitter-bootstrap/2.0.4/css/bootstrap-combined.min.css" />

Then, in the foot of your document simply link up the JavaScript portion of bootstrap like this.

<script src="https://netdna.bootstrapcdn.com/twitter-bootstrap/2.0.4/js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>


Now that we have successfully linked the CDN files to our head and foot areas of a webpage. Let’s discuss a bit more about why it is a good idea to obtain common files from a Content Delivery Network like NetDNA or Cloudflare.

The advantage of using files hosted on a CDN include:

  1. It increases the parallelism available.
    (Most browsers will only download 3 or 4 files at a time from any given site.)
  2. It increases the chance that there will be a cache-hit.
    (As more sites follow this practice, more users already have the file ready.)
  3. It ensures that the payload will be as small as possible.
    (CDN providers can pre-compress the file in a wide array of formats (like GZIP or DEFLATE). This makes the time-to-download very small, because it is super compressed and it isn’t compressed on the fly.)
  4. It reduces the amount of bandwidth used by your server.
    (CDN providers are basically offering free bandwidth.)
  5. It ensures that the user will get a geographically close response.
    (CDN providers have servers all over the world, further decreasing the latency.)
  6. (Optional) They will automatically keep your scripts up to date.
    (If you like to “fly by the seat of your pants,” you can always use the latest version of any script that they offer. These could fix security holes, but generally just break your stuff.)

Credit: John Gietzan


Start getting that extra little performance boost by using the CDN versions of Bootstrap and other common files.

Web Design: The Z Layout

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Let’s take just a minute and think. Why do we create web sites at all? The web is a vast ecosystem of resources that span a near limitless level of purposes. However, one thing that almost each and every site has in common is its desire to spark something in its visitors. Take a look at some of your favorite sites, I bet that you will find some pretty common patterns to the way that each site lays its content out. This is for good reason, over the years designers, developers, ad agencies and more have performed studies called usability tests. Usability tests exist to inform content creators on how users interact with specific pieces of design. By in large, usability centers itself around the idea of encouraging a user to take action! So, through understanding gathered by these tests a few “best practices” have been shared amongst designers that tend to encourage users to do exactly that. This is where the “Z” layout comes in.

What is the Z Layout?

Take a look at the figure above. The Z layout is a design understanding that attempts to get ahead of the user, abstracting any distraction and presenting encouraged action as quickly as possible. Let’s walk though the steps of anticipated interaction a user will have with a site properly laid out in this manner.

  • Step 1: Brand or Logo Recognition
  • Step 2: Relevant Links Related to the Page, Company or Product
  • Step 3: Information gathering – What is the immediate benefit of this product or service?
  • Step 4: Action – Allow for the visitor to take immediate action related to the product being shown.

How about I prove it to you? Let’s take a look at a few popular sites that maintain a “Z” layout.

Untame


Spotify


Rule.fm


Facebook (a smallish social network… these guys just might make it!)


Take notice, in each of these pages the layout has been customized for users to follow the steps of “Z” in an organized and logical progression. There are some cases, such as news sites, that the “Z” layout may not be totally appropriate. However, if you are creating a website wherein you want to encourage your users to take action, then this design method is a proven way to encourage visitors to convert to customers.

The Z method is so usable due to its inherent practicality. Think about it; when you read a book, do you start at the bottom of the page and work your way to the top? This design layout takes advantage of the way that we have been taught since childhood to interact with content, and if it isn’t broken there is no reason to fix it.


Thanks for taking the time to read through this article on web design theory. We sincerely hope that it will help to inform you in your web design or development journey. We would love to design an incredible website for you or your company. Do you need to increase conversions? Get in touch with us and we will help create a custom solution specific to your needs.

Twitter Bootstrap Part 1: What is Bootstrap Anyway?

Posted by | News, Tutorial, Uncategorized | No Comments

Here at Untame we love to build websites for incredible clients, moreover we love to build those sites using cutting edge tools that provide functionality that help our clients stand out from the herd. Behind the scenes we have been working with a fantastic front end web framework called Twitter Bootstrap. Like you would think from the title, it was made by an incredible group of developers and designers employed by Twitter (you may have heard of em… little social network sort of site, may catch on one of these days).

Bootstrap was created by Mark Otto (@mdo) and Jacob Thornton (@fat) and handed over to a thankful world in August of 2011. Their goal was simple: to empower front-end developers to kickstart projects more efficiently and effectively.

Consider this the beginning of a larger investigation of the power of Bootstrap and how we use it (you can too) to create awesome web apps.

What is it anyway?

If you are reading this article (thank you by the way) you are likely a very attractive and powerful web designer or developer looking to spruce up your workflow. Well you are in luck. Using Bootstrap, you can create dynamic and fully featured websites quickly. Why? Because Bootstrap is a front-end framework in it’s truest form. Twitter Bootstrap delivers immediately useable simple and flexible HTML, CSS, and Javascript for popular user interface components and interactions.

Built on HTML5


Ahh the future of the web. While it may be the future, HTML5 is great because it simply allows us to write more semantic, readable code. Bootstrap is packed with HTML5 best practices to help make sure that you are creating future-proof projects for your clients.

 

CSS3 Integrated


If you would like to get started with CSS tricks like box-shadow and gradients Bootstrap is a great place to get started. Better yet, they have taken the time to provide excellent fallback support for older browsers.

 

Bootstrap is Open Source


Would you like to shell out some cash to get your hands on Bootstrap? Too bad! It is completely open source. In fact there are already some great projects built upon forked versions of Bootstrap that integrate even more awesome features.

What Does Bootstrap Do Exactly?

The Grid


If you are familiar with using grids in your design process Bootstrap will be a great place way to improve your workflow substantially. Making use of a twelve column system, layout is as simple as declaring a row of content and them simply adding appropriately sized columns until you reach twelve… rinse and repeat. Best of all, Twitter Bootstrap offers several different kinds of grids that may prove useful with a wide range of projects. Including a fluid twelve column grid as well as a centered “more traditional” grid. Both however have been designed to maintain responsiveness, view-able on a wide range of devices.

Helpful CSS


“On top of the scaffolding, basic HTML elements are styled and enhanced with extensible classes to provide a fresh, consistent look and feel.”

Bootstrap bundles in a host of pre-styled elements perfect for immediate integration in a project. Best of all, the creators chose to build Bootstrap upon the lesscss.org preprocessing engine (a personal favorite of mine) making global changes to base styles as easy as editing a single line of code at a time! Ranging from immaculately styled Typography, tables, forms, buttons and built in icons, Bootstrap integrates enough style to fit just about any project. Not finding the right fit? That’s alright, Bootstrap is wildly extensible and scale-able to keep up with your needs.

Built in jQuery Plugins


Javascript is what makes much of Bootstrap so unique and useable. Many plugins that I use in my projects every single day are baked right into the framework from the beginning.

Each plugin combines to provide a consistant user experience throughout any project. However, it is understandable if you find yourself looking through this list of plugins and saying “Hey, my project will never use that plugin”. That’s okay, you may download your own customized copy of Bootstrap including only the files that you require for your next project using their Bootstrap Builder.

What’s Next?


Now that we have an understanding for what Twitter Bootstrap is, we can begin to take it to the next level and use it in a practical application. In upcoming posts we will review how to create a beautiful website using the power that Bootstrap offers. I hope you have enjoyed this first post in our series on Bootstrap. Is there something specific that you would like to learn about? There is still time to let us know and we might just cover it specifically in a later post.

Start planning your project today. Get Started