More help for the newbie designer

Hello again, fellow Netizens. For the last couple of weeks, we have been going over how to create a Web page and how to create images for that page. For our final installment, we're going to deal with some actual sites that can help you with your style so that any visitors to your site will be happy to return.

For overall good tips on site design, I recommend David Siegel's amazing Creating Killer Websites Online at www.killersites.com. Siegel is considered by many to be the guru of good Web design and, after having written many books about the Web, he has taken that knowledge and passed it along to the common designer. This site, a companion to the best-selling book, is packed with helpful tips, some great examples and a simple approach to Web design.

On the same plane is Hotwired's Webmonkey at hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey. This site, a spinoff of the Wired magazine franchise, has more advanced tips and tricks, so as your knowledge progresses, you can still find something new to explore. Also, leading Web developers are constantly showcased, so that you can see what the hottest Web studios are doing and how you can incorporate some of the design into your own site.

When you finally feel comfortable about doing some hardcore site design, take a look at Free Site Tools at www.freesitetools.com. This great collection of free stuff has all the things a budding webmaster needs to include some really nice interactivity. Plus, what's even better, as the name implies, everything here is totally free.

Now if you want to really get geeky and learn the basic language of the Internet, there are a number of places that you can go that have fairly good Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, primers. However, one of the best is HTML Tutorials for the Complete Idiot at www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Campus/1924. A good, solid resource, written in plain English, it allows most anyone to be able to tell a image tag from a plug-in tag in no time at all.

Another good primer for HTML is NCSA's Beginner's Guide to HTML at www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/General/Internet/WWW/HTMLPrimer.html. This vast compendium, written by the people responsible for the creation of the Internet, has everything a beginning Web developer would need to code with the best of them. What's more, with both of these sites, instead of paying money for a book, they're absolutely free.

Now you've got a handle on your images and you can set up basic pages in Wordpad (no mean feat). How do you know when you're doing something wrong? Besides the lack of visitors or the really nasty e-mail messages you get (you did remember to put a contact e-mail address link on all your pages, didn't you?), there are some sites that can help you find out what all the newbie pitfalls are and how to avoid them.

One such site is 10 Top Mistakes in Web Design at www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html. This site shows you exactly what not to do. It's even been updated to take into account the ever-changing face of the Internet.

Finally, I have found one of the coolest sites for creating text for your page and, again, it's absoultely free. It's called CoolText.com, and it allows anyone to create great-looking rendered image type that is totally customizable. You can pick your font, type in your message, choose your colors, then pick from one of several neat text effects. The server renders your type, and you then just have to save it to your computer.

Ric Barrick has been up for almost 24 hours straight, and is so wound on caffeine that you could use his blood as a triple espresso. You can reach him at webmaster@missoulian.com.

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