Buttons with navigation code
Hoover Web Design has no fewer than four button design pages, moving from simple single images through to elaborate user-specified graphics for rollovers. Working through these is a good way or users to acquire a sense of the options that are available and the kind of code that will be required in order to display them.
Hoover Animated Buttons uses a variety of predefined animated GIF file backgrounds. The background file is downloaded rather than the button image, and again an tag with some CSS code is used to place the animation on the button behind the user’s selected text. A color reversal is applied to the button’s borders when the button is clicked, to give the impression that it is moving inwards.
Finally, the Hoover Rollover Buttons Maker allows the user to select or specify two similar images, one to represent the unpressed state of the button and the second to represent its pressed state. The resulting images are stored remotely on the Hoover site, but a user can substitute their own images and modify the code if they prefer.
Buttons as image files only
ButtonBoost gives users a huge range of free options for creating single button images, but only paid subscription holders can download automatically generated button sets with navigation scripts. Unbeatable for sheer power.
Buttonator is less powerful but more user-friendly: having chosen a design, users can download up to ten button images with that design, just by specifying the text to appear on each button. Subscribers also get access to rollover buttons and navigation scripts.
CoolArchive is less flexible still, but it has some funky designs.
CoolText has a wide range of fonts, though the number of shapes is limited and rendering is very slow.
GlassyButtons is a very simple but elegant page which produces a downloadable set of rollover buttons in a variety of file formats, along with a record of the user’s settings. Ambitious users can upload not only their own images, but also their own fonts to use on the buttons.
ButtonGenerator has a huge range of funky button styles, but not all are free to use. The output for non-subscribers is a single downloadable image file.
Makebutton.com is a simple but quick static image generator.
Almost as simple is The Free Web Stuff, although this does supply rollover images.
TomaWeb is simpler still, but it does give the option of having the button caption run vertically.
Flash button generators
Another approach to buttons is to use the Adobe Flash animation package to create ineractive graphic files which are then ‘embedded’ into the web page. There are several websites which use this approach:
FlashButtons uses a different approach: the user enters a list of up to 30 button captions and the same number of hyperlink destinations, and specifies a Flash animated button style from a set of around 50. The site then generates a complete Flash-based navigation bar, along with the accompanying navigation text, which the user can download and add to their web pages.
FlashVortex has a limited range but some very attractive button designs. The resulting code can either be downloaded as a Flash file or run remotely off the FlashVortex site; but since the site is quite slow to respond this may not be an ideal solution.
DynamicDrive offers an online tool for creating images based on the familiar two-coloured RSS feed buttons, though the settings can be modified to produce other kinds as well. No code is available here – just a downloadable image file. There are many similar sites including BlogFlux and Ekstreme.
Advance Software has a page specifically for creating sets of eCommerce-linked buttons, although some of the captions such as ‘Edit’ and ‘Delete’ may be applicable elsewhere. Only one button of each type is created and no code is attached, but it supports several eCommerce packages.
DevDude is a neat tool for generating the tag CSS code to produce simple but attractive buttons.
In addition to all these, of course, there are many freeware and shareware programs for producing buttons, and some ‘buttonizing’ capability can be found in most good graphics programs. Among the specialised programs are Trellian Button Factory, 3D Button Creator Gold and Antssoft Ultra Button. Most major bitmapped graphics programs such as Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro now also come with some ‘buttonizing’ capabilities built in.
No shortage of options, then, for the designer who wants to incorporate some exciting button designs into his or her website!