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Adding life to your designs does not necessarily mean using animated GIFs or dynamic HTML. Master the dynamic power of static objects and learn to direct the user's eye through your pages for a seamless experience

Design compositions is a complex and challenging topic. You may think computer animation is all there is to it, but this concept is in fact much more versatile. This time I will focus on a not so showy, but very important aspect of perceived dynamism in the "still life" of elements that do not resort to explicit animation or interactivity.

Yes, static photos, text, and even geometric primitives may carry a strong implication of movement, both by themselves and in the context of other elements. An ability to recognize these implied motions, adjust and organize their directions and forces is an essential prerequisite for professional design. As for animation proper and its use in multimedia and Web design.

Motion can be thought of as a direct opposite of balance. A moving object, be it an explicitly moving cartoon character in an animated banner or an implicitly moving (but actually static) photo of a jumping athlete, makes us feel that not only this element is about to be repositioned, but also that the entire composition is about to go from one state to another.

This instability, when obvious, adds a unique dynamic flavor to a design. However, "dynamic" not always means "unstable"; hardly any composition can be successful without subtle yet important bits of motion spread over the page. Only a perfectly symmetric figure, such as a circle taken in isolation, can be said to be absolutely motionless - and, as a result, lifeless and dull.

The article starts with a discussion of design elements capable of adding realistic dynamism to a composition, such as photos or artwork depicting objects in motion. Much more important, however, is abstract dynamism of common geometric shapes, of which perhaps the most important is a straight line. Another aspect is how elements interact to create dynamic eye flows, and the big picture of dynamism in the composition.

The idea of purely logical markup and separating content from presentation may sound simple and promising---until you ask yourself, what to do with the huge pile of existing HTML material?  Can it be painlessly adopted to XML syntax and, more importantly, to XML's ideology of generalized markup?  Read on for some practical answers to these questions...

To summarize, here are the main rules to be observed in modular HTML:

  • There should be as few module types as possible, and once the site design is more or less settled down, introducing a new module type must be an exception justifiable only by emerging an essentially new type of content which wouldn't fit into old templates.

  • Instances of the same module must be identical verbatim except for insertions of variable content (for example, heading text in a heading module).

  • There shouldn't be any "orphan" tags left outside the modules, except for a minimum tag set needed for marking up plain text (e.g. <P>, <STRONG>, and <EM> tags).

  • Each module type must be marked by its corresponding comment label in order to facilitate identifying the module type both in manual editing and in automatic processing.



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