Where Can I Find Good Web Design Advice?
Article by Andrew Walpole
Learning web design can be quite confusing as there is such a myriad of different tutorials and learning hubs on the net.
Many of the top web designers have learned their trade not through formal education and degree courses, but because they are autodidacts, that is, they are self-taught.
Even at this stage in the 21st century, universities and higher education facilities are not geared up to teaching the new media, so those wanting to learn the necessary skills have had to find their own sources of education.
If you are just starting down the web design road you too may not have the option of attending a course and so are looking for alternative sources of information.
Web design classes aren’t a possibility for everybody as many out there work full-time and have neither the money nor the time to attend college.
However, many learning institutions run part-time evening courses and only charge a minimal fee so it is worth ringing them up and asking for a brochure. They are not the type of courses that will give you an in-depth understanding of web design, but they will at least give you a basic grounding.
Several years ago I attended an evening course that was teaching Dreamweaver and Flash basics, and I came away with at the least the fundamentals of how these pieces of software work.
Most web designers will advise learners to stay clear of Dreamweaver because it is a WYSIWYG editor (WYSIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get). This means it writes the code for you, whereas learners really need to know how to write the code themselves.
However, by using the WYSIWYG features of Dreamweaver it really is possible to quickly build a basic but visually stimulating website. It’s the quickest way for the novice to create something complete rather than just writing lines of code.
Today, I still use Dreamweaver because I like its layout although I don’t use its WYSIWYG features – I write the code myself; and the code you need to learn in order to be a efficient web designer is Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
HTML was created by the creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Burners-Lee, at the turn of the 90s, with CSS following a few years later.
The idea behind CSS was the separation of style and content. Today, aspects of a web page such as layout, fonts and colour are controlled by CSS and not by HTML as they used to be.
After my brief evening course I sought out other sources of information on the net and in the bookshops. In particular, there are two series of books I would recommend.
The first is Hands-On Training, produced by Lynda.com. Their guides are written by the world’s top web designers and often come with an accompanying DVD-ROM. Lynda.com also has a whole host of online video tutorials too that are well worth purchasing. The second recommendation is O’Reilly Media who have been producing technology learning resources since 1978, although perhaps it is best to tackle their books after you have a little knowledge of HTML and CSS under your belt.
As for the net, because of what you are studying, you’ll find an abundance of quality material on the web!
There are many, many different sites and online communities that pump out good, solid tutorials and advice for free. Google, truly, is your friend here and will help you uncover those illuminating design and code hubs.
One place in particular, Sitepoint, has proven to be an invaluable resource to me over the years, both as a novice and still today as a professional.
You will always find a polite and genuinely helpful response to any question that you ask on the Sitepoint forums; and, because it has existed since 1999, there is a huge reservoir of old threads for you to swim through.
Other sites are w3schools.com which is a good reference source with detailed sections on HTML and CSS and alistapart.com which is the best place to learn about web standards.
When you start to learn HTML and CSS it can all seem a bit daunting, but if you have the time to spare and the determination to apply yourself I can guarantee that you will succeed.
About the Author
Andy Walpole is a web designer and developer and can be found at Suburban Glory Web Design