There is a site-let in frogans*lab that shows you how content can change the shape of a Frogans site. It’s called “Things That Morph” and the things that morph on this site-let are:
- “Monarch Metamorphosis” – A chrysalis morphing into a monarch butterfly,
- “Building Le Tour Eiffel” – The gradual construction of the Eiffel Tower from August 1887 through March 1889, and
- “Arctic September” – The size and shape of the arctic polar ice cap in the month of September from 1991 to 2016 (the scariest Frogans yet).
In each case, the content affects the shape of the slide, sometimes in unexpected ways. This can make the slide more cool, but sometimes it can get in the way of its usability.
Frogans sites are distinctive in that they can take on any shape. On the desktop, for example, Frogans sites float above the other objects and windows on your screen and so what you see behind the Frogans site depends on its shape.
So you have to be careful if you want to your site to work well for all users. Since you can’t really control what appears behind a Frogans site, particularly on the desktop, you need to focus on making sure that your sites stand out against all backgrounds imaginable.
Your safest bet is keep your shapes simple, as long as you can keep your sites interesting. Another thing you can do is to use a lot of flat colors and hard edges. The “Monarch Metamorphosis” slide shape is about as simple and flat as I could make it while allowing for a big, empty zone for a growing butterfly.
You can also apply outlines, if you’re not worried about making it look too cartoonish. Shadows or halos around the edges of your shape can be useful, too. The Eiffel tower slide uses a lot of outlines, which also adds to it’s 1880’s poster look.
Semi-transparent zones can be useful, too. “Arctic September” shows the upper part of the globe in which the ocean is transparent and the polar cap is semi-transparent, depending on the thickness of the ice. But this makes for a very complex shape that is problematic over some backgrounds. I added semi-transparent halos on the lower right and left to mitigate the effect. You don’t see the effect over flat white surfaces, but it looks kinda cool over dark ones.
As you can see, text and photographs can make for contentious backgrounds, especially if your Frogans sites have complex shapes and graphics. But they can do so even for the most placid of Frogans sites, so don’t let that entirely stymie your creativity. Keep in mind that users might often manage their windows to best accommodate their favorite Frogans sites. You just don’t have to make it overly challenging for them.