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Is your skin horrible to look at or a pleasure to behold?

Feb27

Written by:
2009/02/27 07:50 AM RssIcon

Your skin displays to the rest of the what you look like and conveys who you are. A horrible looking skin will turn people away, a skin that is appealing will entice people to look longer and derive pleasure form what they see. Of course I am talking about a website skin. What were you thinking?

Many websites today scare away visitors never to return because of a horrible looking website, bad design, non functional navigation, and inconsistencies between pages. They lack the professionalism that will convince people that they mean business and that they are credible at what they do.

As people, CEO's, Directors, Company Owners, Webmaster, we take great pride in our looks. Spending large amounts of money and time on grooming, fashion, and appearance. Yet when it comes to our websites, we expect miracles to happen. If we would just give  our sites the same amount of attention that we give our own faces, our website face will attract and hold more attention.

This is where website skins come into play. It is no wonder that the analogy is drawn from our natural and biggest organ, our skin. Website skins, often termed, templates or themes is part of Web 2.0 design and integration. They help with consistency in design, as well as well as bringing down development and upload time. Because you design one skin and apply that to all the pages of your site, whether you have 10 or 10 000, a skin will help in making your site look and feel the same across all pages. You also do not have to design all 10 000 pages individually.

So what is a website skin?

A skin is a set of files that defines how a web page on your site looks. You can assign a different skin to every different page or assign one for the whole site. You can define multiple skins per site. Skins can define just about any aspect of how the site looks. The files that can make up a skin include but are not limited to:

  • At least one ASPX (windows), or PHP, or HTML file defining the layout of the page (Needed).
  • A Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) file example, skin.css
  • Graphic elements for visual display of site. Jpeg, PNG, Gif, Flash(optional)
  • An XML file to merge with the HTML files for extra functionality and properties properties (Optional).
  • JavaScript files, for clients side functionality, example menu actions and animation (Optional, but good to have).

Most Content Management Systems and Dynamic websites make use of skinning now a days. Sites like WordPress, Blogger, Joomla, Drupal, Dotnetnuke  all make use of some sort of skinning or templates or themes for their sites and applications. This site, Integralwebsoltuions, is a Dotnetnuke site. The current look and feel is just a skin applied.

The beauty of a skin is that it makes changing the look and feel of your site so much easier. In Dotnetnuke for example, you can change the look and feel of your site with the simple click of a button, no matter how many pages you have. You can also make small changes to you whole skin like changing colour or graphics, eg logo's, banners, by making changes to styles sheets, and perhaps uploading one or two graphic elements.

Check out our DNN Skins page for an example of tons of skins available for Dotnetnuke.

If you want your site to look professional, and you want more control over the look and feel of your site, get into skinning. But remember a bad skin, can still make a good site look bad.

So how do you skin your site?

Well the answer to that questions is a whole series of tutorials on their own. But suffice to say that there are tons of skins, themes and templates available for you on the internet. Depending on you website platform, you should be able to find a skin that suites you and your business. Whether that be a WordPress theme or a Dotnetnuke Skin. If you don't find what you're looking for, you could always hire or pay someone to design and develop a skin for you.

Also there are many skins available for free, if you just have the patience to do the extra leg work when it comes to searching. A lot of these free skins are just as good as any paid skins, so do not be put off by that.

So to answer the question first posed, Is your skin horrible to look at or a pleasure to behold? Hopefully you can answer, yes it is a pleasure to look at, but more importantly if it is indeed horrible, you now have the knowledge and power to change that.

Happy skinning.

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