People often ask me questions like How do you get started in web design/development and what books and websites do you recommend?
I’ve been thinking about this and have put together my top 10 list of websites which I regularly refer to when working on technical web development projects.
1. For CSS and HTML reference my favourite site now is www.sitepoint.com they have a clean simple HTML and CSS reference. They also publish an excellent range of web development books and publish online articles etc.
2. Until recently www.w3schools.com would have been at number 1, but I think that Sitepoint has an edge now in the areas that they cover. Still, it can be useful to have more than one source of information and more examples.Â This site also has guides to a wider range of topics than Sitepoint.
3. Although in many ways we prefer Java for large projects, PHP has many strengths and is a very serious alternative to Java. The www.php.net is a great reference guide to the PHP language.
4. CSS is very powerful and I regularly turn to www.csszengarden.com for two reasons. Firstly for inspiration and secondly to demonstrate to clients and junior staff how CSS can transform a piece of marked-up content in so many ways.
5. For quality reference books I love www.safaribooksonline.com. I’m often on the road so online access to eBooks is much better than having a pile of books stuck back in the office.
6. When I’m driving around I often listen to Paul Boag’s podcast which is all about web development. They often mention useful tips, tricks and products and you can catch up later with the transcription which they publish at boagworld.com.
7. It’s important for IT professionals to stay up to date with developments in the field.Â I recommend that you make a point of reading the IBM Systems Journal which can be found online at http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sjindex.html
8. If you are serious about web development it won’t be long before you need to look at the HTTP response that you are getting back from your web servers.Â There are lots of ways of doing this but I often find myself using the free online viewer at www.rexswain.com/httpview.html.
9. Behind most of our PHP and Java applications you’ll find a MySQL database so the http://www.mysql.com/ site contains essential reading.
10. Coming back to the question, how do you get into web design? Well you need to read as much as you can on the subject. If you’re like me you don’t have much time these days and you have to be selective about what you read. I always find time to check http://www.alistapart.com/ at least once a week to see what new articles they have published on web design.
There were so many sites I could have listed here but many focus on niche web technologies. The sites I’ve picked will give you a good grounding in the current state of web design.