Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > Adobe Dreamweaver

This chapter is from the book

PROJECT 4.1 Prototyping and Designing with Background Images

  • star.jpg ACA Objective 1.2
  • star.jpg ACA Objective 2.4
  • star.jpg ACA Objective 4.2

Chris has been hard at work and has provided all sorts of new information to work with. In the project files for Chapter 4, Chris has supplied a bunch of images and specific feedback on how things should look going forward. Based on the instructions and the materials he has provided, you can start getting content into place.

Examining Client Feedback and Requirements

Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the new files and folders that Chris provided.

  1. Open Dreamweaver and review the structure of the site and the new folders and images.

    The folders and files you created in Chapter 3 are still in place, but new images and documents have been supplied by the client (Figure 4.2). The images folder contains lots of new cartoon characters, and the source folder contains Photoshop and Fireworks files. Also included are two client feedback files.

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 The files and folders for the Chapter 4 website

  2. Open client-feedback.docx by double-clicking the file in Dreamweaver.

    The file opens in Microsoft Word. If you don’t have Word installed on your computer, you can open the client-feedback.rtf file in almost any word processor.

  3. Read through the client feedback from the client.

    Deciphering information from a client frequently involves a lot of detective work. What specific guidance does the client provide? What things are being left up to you as the designer? And most importantly at this stage, can you determine enough information to get a feel for how things should look?

  4. Open the client’s design comp by double-clicking wulvs-comp.png.

    This file opens in the default graphics editor on your computer (Figure 4.3).

    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 Major design elements in the design comp provided by the client

    A Header with character collage

    B Page background with textured image

    C Sidebar and navigation area

    D Character inserted into the page

    The design comp includes the major design elements that the client is requesting. The page is centered in the viewport and has a header, sidebar, footer, and main content area. You’ll also see design clues as to how the client wants images to be used. This is another good time to jot down some notes on what you discover in this document.

  5. Now open index.html.

    This is the same file that you finished at the end of Chapter 3. Compare this file to the client’s composition to see the differences.

  6. Open prototype.html.

    This is a file that you might have developed based on your detective work of the information your client provided. In the interest of time, the following tasks have been done for you:

    • The document includes the content that will appear in several pages of the website. You’ll find new Heading 1 tag sections for the Team, Services, Rates, and Contact pages.
    • The Team section has character descriptions, the Services and Rates sections have tables of information, and the Contact section has a spot for a form.
    • The sidebar area has text for two navigation sections and placeholder text for where advertising might go.
    • New CSS styling rules have been created to assign background colors and borders to the header and footer areas of the page.
  7. Open the CSS Designer panel. Select the Show Set checkbox in the upper-right corner of the panel, and examine the properties that have been applied to the #header and #footer rules in this document.

Once you’ve thoroughly reviewed all the changes that have been made and compared those changes to the index.html file, you are ready to move on to more styling. You can even close index.html. All the work you do from this point forward will be done in prototype.html.

Prototyping in Web Design

Working with a technical prototype is a very common method used by designers as they reach this stage in designing a website. By using a single document like the one you’ll work on in this chapter, all the individual images, text, tables, and other elements can be placed and styled into a single page. The CSS styling rules remain in the <head> of the page while this work is going on, making it easier to keep track of the rules as you create, troubleshoot, and modify styles. When the styling is complete and the client has given final approval to move forward, the CSS file will be converted into a separate, external file, and the contents of each section can be copied to the pages where they’ll ultimately reside.

This kind of workflow also allows you as the designer to take advantage of Dreamweaver’s automation features as final designs are converted to templates and library items. These templates and library items make it easier to generate new pages and update an entire site full of web pages when a revision takes place.

Using the Faux Column Technique to Style the Sidebar

The client’s design calls for a sidebar to extend down the left side of the page. That’s a very common arrangement, but it presents a challenge: How does a web designer style this area of the page in such a way that it appears correctly no matter how long the web page is? Let’s understand the problem, then see a common solution.

  1. With prototype.html open, place Dreamweaver in Design view. From the application bar, choose View > Visual Aids > CSS Layout Backgrounds. You can enable and disable this view as you examine the page.

    Dreamweaver will apply color coding to help you visualize the <div> elements of the page (Figure 4.4).

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 The Design window with CSS Layout Backgrounds enabled

    Notice how the main area content is longer than the sidebar content. You could insert your cursor into the sidebar and press Enter/Return to add a bunch of empty paragraphs until the sidebar is as full as the content area, but that’s a very sloppy way to deal with the issue. Instead you will use a time-tested method of styling with a background image. This method is known as the faux column technique.

  2. Double-click the container-bg-gold.png file inside the images folder to open it.

    The faux column technique is perfect for a fixed-width page like the one you’re working on. To create the illusion that the left column is filled up, a background image that matches the width of the container is used for the background. In this case, the #container <div> is set at 960 pixels wide.

    The #sidebar <div> is 180 pixels wide. The area of the image that will provide the background color or pattern needs to be set to a matching width. Figure 4.5 details how this image is laid out.

    Figure 4.5

    Figure 4.5 An image for use as a faux column

    Notice that the image is only 20 pixels high. A background image like this one doesn’t need to be any larger, because it will repeat vertically inside its container.

  3. Open the CSS Designer panel, and select the #container selector.
  4. In the Background section, locate the background-image property, click inside the field next to url, and then click the Browse for File icon to locate the image.
  5. Browse to the chapter-04/images folder, and select container-bg-gold.png. Click OK/Open to set the image as the background.
  6. To control how the image repeats, or tiles, down the container, set the background-repeat property to repeat-y. This will restrict the image to repeating only down the page and not across.
  7. Compare your settings to Figure 4.6.

    If everything looks good, it’s time to preview your work in your favorite web browser.

    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 The CSS Designer panel set to the Background category

Using Images in Page Backgrounds

The second client request to address is for an image that displays on either side of the content area of the web page. Chris has provided several different images for you to try. You might not actually use these in the final design, but it’s a good opportunity to see the different background-repeat settings that CSS provides and to see how images may be used to style the entire visible window in a web browser display.

This process uses the same tools and techniques you just used on the #container selector, except this time you’ll work with the body selector.

  1. Open the CSS Designer panel, and select the body selector. This selector was created previously to “zero out” the page margins and to set a temporary background color.
  2. Click the Background category, and float your mouse over the background color setting, as you see in Figure 4.7.

    You’ll see two buttons appear to the right: a button that allows you to disable a setting temporarily and a trashcan icon for deleting a property.

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 Background color settings in the CSS Designer panel

  3. Click the trashcan icon to delete the background color setting.

    Web designers frequently use tiny images set to repeat across and down the page to create a wallpaper effect.

  4. Click the Browse icon next to the background-image url field.
  5. Browse to the chevron_bg.png file in the images folder. Select the file, and click OK/Open.

    The background-image setting will appear (Figure 4.8).

    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8 Background image settings in the CSS Designer panel

  6. Set the background-repeat option to tile across and down.

  7. Click the Preview in Browser button ( browser.jpg ) in the lower-right corner of the document window. When prompted, choose to save and view the file in your favorite browser.

    You’ll see this one small image tile across and down the page.

  8. Click the Browse icon in the background-image settings area, and switch the file to diamond-bg.png. Preview your page in a browser again to see tiled background images in action.

    The design in Figure 4.9 might not make the final cut, but you should have a good idea of how this kind of image can be incorporated into a design.

    Figure 4.9

    Figure 4.9 Background images are tiled inside their container when set to repeat.

    Another common background image design technique is to use a wide image with gradients or other visual properties set on either side of a blank area of the canvas.

  9. From the source folder, open either gradient-bg.psd (a Photoshop file) or gradient-bg.fw.png (a Fireworks file) (Figure 4.10).

    Figure 4.10

    Figure 4.10 Background images are used in some designs to create a gradient border effect.

    Note that this image is quite wide—2200 pixels—but only 20 pixels high. You’ll also see that the center portion of the canvas has been filled with a white rectangle that matches the width of the #container <div>.

  10. Return to Dreamweaver, and use the Browse for File icon in the background-image setting to switch the background image to gradient-bg.png.
  11. Set the background-position setting to 50% left to place this image in the center of the viewport. You can drag your mouse to apply this setting, or click inside the value field and type the value.
  12. Click the repeat-y icon in the background-repeat area, and compare your settings to those in Figure 4.11.

    When you preview the page in a browser, or switch to Live view, you’ll see that the area on either side of the page contents has a gradient background that fades to white. This is another way the client’s requirements might be met using background images.

    Figure 4.11

    Figure 4.11 The effect of using a background image that repeats vertically down the page

In this project, you’ve learned how you can use background images as a layout technique where a column on the page is visually defined using a background image, and you also have seen how the entire viewable area around the page contents can be styled by applying a background to the <body> tag.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020