"PCM Freeware Page" - Artist Statement

The general design of the PCMech Freeware Page was something I had been playing around with for a while, but never had much use for.  Namely, a header banner and a side bar that were connected smoothly with rounded corners in a somewhat fluid manner.  That was the trickiest part of the whole page.

The point of the Freeware page was to enable members of the PCM community to upload and share any small programs they had written, such as automated batch files, tweak apps, and other helpful/useful scripts. So, all it needed to get off the ground was a place to host these files. Thus the design. I based it off of PCM's current design, but with a number of modifications.

The most obvious is perhaps the tables in the center and the smooth connecting banner and side bar as I mentioned earlier. The reason for the deviation was just to present something new and easy to navigate, as well as to avoid the use of banner ads found on the main site (since this was to be used for freeware, after all). The second large feature of the design is its complete compatibility with other browsers and dynamic properties for almost any resolution from small to big. All my pages are integrated with this dynamic feature (if you want to see how it works, simply hit "Restore Down" and drag and shrink the size of the window). I'm disappointed that not too many web designers try integrating it more. They often adhere to a specific resolution, such as 800x600 or 1024x768, forgetting that there are people using larger or smaller resolutions, and even resolutions not using the 4:3 aspect ratio, as found on Mac tops and some laptops.

Since the page is completely dynamic, the text "Freeware for the PCMech Community" can be changed at any time without having to change any images in Photoshop. The same thing goes for adding any number of links to the side bar; for it can expand, and expand, and keep expanding to accept more and more links or text to your heart's content.

The trick to dynamic webpages is the extensive use of tables. If you have a good grasp on how to manipulate tables, you can make any page dynamic. In addition, when laying out a template in Photoshop, you have to plan ahead and "slice" the image into pieces when you're done so you can stick the individual images into tables to keep everything dynamic. Anything that's a solid color or that repeats can be placed as a tiny background image and used to fill a large space without putting a strain a bandwidth or a delay on loading time.

You can also cut down on loading time, in addition to opening the door for lots of customization, by using CSS. What can be done in HTML can be significantly shortened using CSS. So, instead of having all those clunky text formatting strings appear over and over again, you can just have a few lines in a CSS file that can be repeatedly applied using a short tag. CSS can not only handle stylization of text, but links, scroll bars and mouse icons as well. And it doesn't end there.

Overall, the design had great potential. Unfortunately, the design was never used because of a plug-in found for the forum's vBulletin software. It however makes file management much easier, and not dependant on any one person for organization and maintenance. It's a nice design and I hope to use it in some other future project. If not, it makes a nice showcase item for the potential of tables, CSS and Photoshop integrated into a webpage.

~ Adam Deutschmann, November 2004