Design With Crackers

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

For beginners: next steps

Now, assuming you've already read “Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity” and studied all of HTML Dog tutorials and examples. Assuming that you've read at least 30% of what is available at Web Design From Scratch (by the way, it's been beautifully redesigned since the last time I linked to it), these are the next things you ought to do:

Read “Prioritizing Web Usability” (by Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger) and “Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” (by Steve Krug).

Learn to touch-type, it will pay off before you notice! There are plenty of tools around that will help you to learn it in no time, some are even web based!

Study these resources that will help you to master CSS layout techniques and other key web concepts and technologies:

  • Dev.Opera lovely Introduction to The Web Standards Curriculum - It's a comprehensive course on the basics and a definitive can't miss for beginners.
  • CSS TRICKS All about Floats - Read it and you'll "get it".
  • Matthew James Taylor wonderful Website layouts - Those are pure gold, study them with care, take them apart, build them again.
  • BlueRobot's Layout Reservoir - Those are a bit old, but they are great nonetheless, study them and feel free to ignore the references to browsers no-longer used.
  • Alessandro's Layout Gala - Old too, study them, don't forget to test them with care in newer browsers before using one of them.
  • Blueprint.CSS and CSS Frameworks - Take your time to study those two very carefully, even if you don't plan to use them at all, since you can learn a lot by figuring out how they work. I'll be posting a list of the best available CSS Frameworks along with some commentary about each one of them, I just don't know yet when I'll do it, so keep an eye out!
  • Dave Shea famous CSS Zen Garden - There's a lot to learn here!

Don't simply copy & paste from the layout galleries and tutorials! Study them thoroughly and then try to redo them without looking at their code! Be careful with the temptation to keep using pre-made CSS Frameworks indefinitely, you'll never be a pro if you don't bite the bullet and go all the way through CSS layout techniques learning curve!

Study these resources about design principles and start learning to use a Vector Imaging tool, I recommend Inkscape and it's on-line tutorials are an excellent place to start! Inkscape is available for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows!

Have fun with what you're doing! If you should become bored then probably this area is not for you, since you'll be competing against lots of people which are very enthusiastic about what they are doing.

And don't forget to come back here (preferably subscribe to my feed) to discover what to do once you have completed these steps!

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