General Question

shared3's avatar

Best place to learn website design?

Asked by shared3 (921 points ) June 27th, 2009

I’m a beginner, so obviously not looking for the really advanced topics yet. I’m mostly looking towards actual html and other script coding, rather than just WYISWYG like DreamWeaver or FrontPage. Price is not much of an object. Understandability is key.

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22 Answers

bonus's avatar

I just read through the tutorials at w3schools.com and it went very quickly. I spent less than a day at it. My understanding has increased manifold. Go through the HTML information, then the CSS will make more sense.

jrpowell's avatar

You don’t really want to piece this together from tutorials on the Internet. Just get a good book on HTML and CSS. Work through that. I find that if I just copy and paste code from the Internet I don’t actually learn why it is doing what it does. If I have to type it in I examine it more.

There are tons of good books about HTML and CSS. After you get that down work on Javascript and PHP.

shared3's avatar

@johnpowell any suggestions on specific books?

wenn's avatar

run through the w3schools html and css stuff, and here is a nice book on CSS. jsut download and unrar it winRar(PC) unRarX(mac).

I recommend NOT using Dreamweaver…ever, its crap. to actually learn coding and remembering it, if you have a mac try and get Textmate or Coda, great editors and you HAVE to write your own code so you will learn it.

shared3's avatar

@bonus and @wenn do you guys recommend getting those certificates w3schools.com offers. is it it actually respected or is it just for them to make money? Is it fairly easy to pass them with only their website as preparation?

Bri_L's avatar

I am just finishing a class with a guy who has been doing it for years and he gave us “The Essential Guide to CSS and HTML Web Design.”

wenn's avatar

@shared3 getting those certificates… umm i dont think so. but who knows, i am in my final year of getting my bachelors in web design and interactive media so i wouldnt waste my time with them. but if you dont plan on doing any schooling…maybe?

Bri_L's avatar

@wenn – Hey Thanks for that link. That looks like a great book!

I have a BS in Graphic Design, Illustration with 7 years animation and video effects but I thought it was time to stop preparing it all for the web and be able to put it up there myself. I used to code for Director and Flash 6 years ago. Didn’t help. hehe.

StellarAirman's avatar

I recommend learning online over a book, or in addition to a book at least. The web is constantly changing and you need to be able to learn and adapt with it very quickly. Books are too slow and technology books are outdated by the time they are published. Learning to learn online is important and will allow you to keep learning as you progress, rather than sitting around helpless while you wait for a book to be written and published on a certain topic. Learning to teach yourself is a very important part of web design in my opinion.

I wouldn’t waste your time with certificates. A strong portfolio will say a lot more about your skill than a little certificate that you took online.

jrpowell's avatar

This book is really good. I have read it. And you can get a PDF in minutes and they send you a paper version in a few days.

jrpowell's avatar

@StellarAirman :: I’m still using books on HTML and CSS I bought 5 years ago. The basics don’t move that fast. Techniques move fast, but the standards don’t.

bonus's avatar

@shared3 I can’t answer to the certificate as I am a complete novice. However, I have had friends in the I.T. racket in the past who mentioned that certificates for various things were looked down upon. I am no part of that culture so I have no idea what that was about.

I think the internet and the book can be a great combination.

Link's avatar

I like w3schools.com like anyone else. But I like yourhtmlsource.com just a little more.

-Link

noyesa's avatar

There are loads of great sources on the internet, although w3schools tends to be sparse. My favorite resource for HTML topics is yourhtmlsource.com. w3schools has a tendency to present only a brief example of each element, and in my opinion doesn’t really hammer home the concepts of choosing elements for semantic purposes, which yourhtmlsource.com goes into great detail about. Web Standards Solutions by Dan Cederholm is an excellent book which explains using the standards-based approach to web design. There are piles of HTML books out there, but few of them really push semantic web, standards-based design, and the importance of not just having a structure, but a readable and semantically appropriate one, which will help you immensely when you begin learning advanced CSS layouts or JavaScript/DOM scripting. Bulletproof Web Design is another book by Cederholm which studies a few common web design problems and proposes standards-compliant and semantic solutions for them.

It’s impossible to stress just how important Google is in learning something like this. While there is a lot of crap on the web, there are also some great solutions that you won’t find in any book. Being able to see multiple approaches to a problem and comparing the rationale and strengths of each is key in learning how to write good HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. CSS is a simple enough language (although don’t be quick to underestimate it) that you can learn it without a definitive book on the subject. Most HTML books, like Web Standards Solutions, cover a basic introduction to CSS. At this point, you’re ready to move on to more complicated CSS and standards-based topics. For this I recommend CSS Mastery by Andy Budd.

The next step for you is JavaScript. This is the part where I usually see people really grasp the concept of semantic HTML and standards-compliant coding, since you start viewing your HTML from the other side of the fence. DOM Scripting by Jeremy Keith is a great place to get started, and its “sequel” Bulletproof Ajax (also by Keith) is the simplest way to learn the basics of Ajax. From here you can look at any number of the myriad of scripting books out there.

shwetank's avatar

Please goto http://opera.com/wsc/ The Opera Web Standards Curriculum designed by Opera in collaboration with Yahoo!

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Babbage's avatar

All of the websites presented here have good information / tutorials on them, but you may want to also consider using a WYSIWYG editor just so you can understand the structure and the tags. For example, start a new blank project, and then flip to the source code. See what tags they have and how it is structured. Then add some text and see what changed. This is what I did when I first got started.

Of course, using this method won’t allow you to learn all the standards right away, but it will help you grasp how tags should be placed in your code. Learning the standards however, is the best thing, as it massively increase the chance of your website being cross-browser compatible (which you may or may-not care about at this point).

As far as books are concerned, I would recommend HTML and XHTML for basic web design, CSS: The Difinitive Guide for CSS design, and JavaScript: The Definitive Guide for cool information regarding JavaScript.

(Note: The version of the books I’ve listed may not be the latest editions)

Finally, checking out the source code from other websites is an added bonus. If you see something cool on another website, look at the source, and see if you can figure out how they did it.

Trueday's avatar

If you want to have a web design career WYSIWYG is not the best way to begin with. Yes it is useful, but you must understand coding at first. Try HTML Tutorials to learn HTML Basics, Introduction to CSS, PHP Basic, MySQL , Ajax. And don’t forget about SEO

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FreddiLee's avatar

I’ve actually written a series of articles on this very subject that help to serve as a guide from the beginning stages of web design up through designing sites to help you make money online.

1.) Part 1 Covers learning the web languages, like HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL, etc., as well as some great free and paid resources to help you get started.
2.) Part 2 Covers the steps involved in publishing your website. Includes tips on, choosing your type of website, hosting, site design and planning.
3.) Part 3a A guide to attracting traffic to, and making money from online storefronts and business websites. Begins discussing affiliate marketing and maintaining customer loyalty online.
4.) Part 3b A guide to attracting traffic to, and making money from Blogs and Social Networking sites. Provides a more in-depth look at affiliate marketing, as well as a guide to advertising, referrals, backlink building, and much more.

Hopefully this will help you on your way!

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