Some Places to Go For More Information.
If you feel like you know quite a bit about web design now, but you’d really like to explore the details a bit more, then this is the article for you. As web designers are, by their nature, very likely to be web users and website owners, there’s a wealth of information and discussion forums on the web, all free to read or participate in. I’m going to give you a few websites that are my first port of call when I have a problem or I’m curious about something, in the hope that they’ll be useful to you too.
W3Schools (www.w3schools.com). A great resource, with free tutorials on everything from HTML to CSS to ASP. It offers a ‘try it yourself’ editor that lets you edit example code and see the results straightaway, as well as comprehensive language references. I go to W3Schools first when I forget the name of an obscure CSS property or wonder if there’s an HTML tag suitable for a certain purpose – they’re all there.
A List Apart (www.alistapart.com). A web magazine for web designers, it’s very good for ‘how to’ articles covering more complicated subjects, especially when it comes to CSS. The writers at A List Apart are very good at working around CSS’ shortcomings and offering practical workarounds and solutions that you can take and use on your own website.
Digital Web Magazine (www.digital-web.com). Weekly pieces on issues relevant to web designers, with a focus on web design and accessibility. It tends to be especially good for reviews of the latest web design books, and analysis of current trends.
The Web Style Guide (www.webstyleguide.com). If you’re a writer, you need to read The Elements of Style, and if you’re a web designer you need to read the Web Style Guide. It is, essentially, an online book, giving best practices for many different aspects of web design. If you’re looking for general strategies, it’s a very good read.
Webmaster World (www.webmasterworld.com). An excellent place to watch for the latest news relevant to webmasters – if something is going on with a search engine, or there’s a new advertising service out, then Webmaster World will have the news, as well as lots of comment and analysis from people who run big, successful websites. Well worth checking daily.
About Web Design (webdesign.about.com). A resource that mostly sticks to the basics, but covers all of them, and covers them well. If you’re trying to do something that seems like it should be quite simple and you’d like a step-by-step guide, About Web Design is a good place to go.
Web Design Bits (www.webdesignbits.com). Web design tutorials with a focus on those big, difficult to use programs, like Flash and Photoshop. Especially good if you’re trying to achieve advanced effects in Photoshop without having to learn it inside out. The tutorials linked to are off-site, making it a good way to find other useful web design websites.
Web Design Forums (www.webdesignforums.net). A pretty comprehensive set of forums about web design, and a very good place to go if you’re having a problem that you haven’t been able to solve for yourself. As long as you take the time to find the right forum to post your question in, you should find the people there helpful and knowledgeable.
The Site Wizard (www.thesitewizard.com). This site has a sprawling, categorised set of web design articles – if you want an article about something, you can probably find it here. It tends to be especially good if you’re looking for a guide for how to do something with a specific program.
SitePoint (www.sitepoint.com). Although it can feel advertising-heavy, SitePoint is a good resource for articles about web design. The articles tend to be slanted towards online business and other ways of making money online, although there are plenty of design tricks there that would be useful to anyway. They also have a very active and useful set of forums.
The W3C (www.w3c.org). Finally, it’s worth giving a mention to the web’s official standards body, the W3C. They have the authoritative copies of the specifications for open web languages like HTML and CSS. You can also take a look at the working groups, who are working on the future of the web right now.