Ira is doing 43 things including…

learn web design

6 cheers

 

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Ira has written 9 entries about this goal

Anyone reading this knows about the equal-height, variable-content columns with different background colours problem in CSS?

I think I may have found two good, new solutions to it, but I don’t get the impression they’re well-known or much in use!



After taking a bit of a break from it out of frustration

I’m back at it – and it’s going well, I think. I’m testing some of the basics here, and have reserved a much-recommended book on graphic design from the library that I’ll pick up as soon as it’s available.

Web design is still enormously frustrating – I think the technologies are still in their infancy, and while when CSS works intuitively and makes sense, it’s beautifully elegant, when it doesn’t… I spent about two hours yesterday just trying to work past this problem, which seemed like it should have been doable, but just wasn’t – for no real obvious rhyme or reason.

But I’m still going to continue learning it and working with it because there are a few web projects that I dream of building at some point in the future – and because the graphic design skills I pick up will be very useful for other creative things I want to do. But I’m not sure how long it’ll take for me to get good at it.

So I’ve also started learning Python – which is more traditional programming that also has use in web applications I understand. I have a little experience with C++ from my early teenage years, so am getting through Dive Into Python pretty quickly. I aim to learn it quickly – I hear it’s a great language – and try out Django, a web framework for it. These things are for both personal creative interests and, if I can become competent at them, will help me a lot in finding good and decent-paying jobs.

I’ll start updating this goal more often with useful links on web design and web programming that I want to share – here’s a great way of comparing fonts at a glance:

http://flippingtypical.com/

:)



The Essential Guide to CSS and HTML Web Design by Craig Grannell

It’s really not the best written book – he frequently leaves you trying to guess at what he means. And it’s not a beginner’s book, and often assumes knowledge that was never mentioned as a prerequisite – fortunately I’m just about at the right level of not-quite-beginner-with-a-little-knowledge-here-and-there to get it (it’s an under-catered-for demographic! Hmm – am I using the word demographic correctly here?) But, it’s 500 pages full of useful information – there’s so much to learn with web design, and a lot of it is here. So it’s all-in-all a pretty good book to start me off with.

I have realised though that I need to practise what I’m learning – otherwise there’s no way I’m remembering all the strange and arbitrary quirks of web design languages and browsers. So I need to build a website for myself. I just need to decide what to put on it, and lay it out on paper. And then get started. :)



Finally decided to invest in a book -

The Essential Guide to CSS and HTML Web Design by Craig Grannell – while the internet is full of free learning resources, the sheer amount you have to sort through is a little overwhelming. Plus, I find it much easier to learn from a book than off the monitor screen – better for your eyes. (I need to get a printer really, at some point.) So I did some research, and this book is supposed to be good. I’m quite excited actually, because now I may actually be able to speed through it – I learn much better from a book. I was getting frustrating with how unorganised, scattered and overlapping the free stuff on the internet were. The book means I can study when I can’t be at the computer too. All good. :)



The Samaritans bookshop I'm volunteering for

asked me to do a page for them, so I’ve restarted learning in earnest – they’re not exactly in a hurry to put together the material I need, so I have a bit of time. And it’s gonna be a fairly basic page – but it’s still good experience! :)



Have been spending quite a bit of time on this recently -

I’ve started building a website, as the only way I can learn is by doing. It’s only now that I’ve realised what an undertaking this is – there is so much I need to learn. Still doing it, but it’s looking like doing this self-taught would be very much a long-term endeavour. Of course, all web designers have to be always learning anyway, given how quickly all the technologies and standards change.

Been reading up on colour theory, and I think I get the gist of it, but it doesn’t seem to give any definitive answers on what are good colours to use. Useful for ideas though.

Have also been trying to decide whether it’s better to have light text on a dark background, or the other way round. A cursory google finds the internet debating hotly about it, but no authoritative conclusions. Black text on a white background, as on 43things here, is traditional (as in print), elegant and just plain looks good, but on a computer monitor screen all the white is like, as someone puts it, staring at a light bulb. It’s tiring on the eyes, especially over long periods of use. I personally prefer white text on a dark background – a good example is Metafilter – which is easier on the eye, but some people say that’s more straining on their eyes than black text on white. What do people think? Which one do you find easier to read?



Been using

HTML Dog to learn my HTML and CSS. The beginner sections are great, but the intermediate and advanced sections are less useful to me, at least at this point – they jump all over the place, and present a lot of pretty unnecessary information for someone just starting out.

I really like the way CSS separates content and presentation, in the same way I appreciated Object-Oriented Programming in C++ – it makes sense, is obviously a good way of thinking about it, and has a certain elegance to it. What I don’t like so much is having so many keywords and properties to remember – I suppose the only way to start remembering them is to make use of them, by building my own website. Which I will do.

On the design and presentation side of things, I stumbled onto the Before & After Magazine, which is more graphic design than specific web design, but seems excellent – I’ve only looked at the “What’s the right typeface for text?” PDF, which is great, but will look at the rest when I can.



I'm a little disturbed

by how I’ve just recently started getting spam offering me free versions of Adobe Photoshop. As if the spammers are READING MY MIND.



Another thing I'm interested in learning

Part of me wonders if I’m taking too much on, what with music (piano, guitar, and soon harmonica), french, the world map thing… But I like being able to dip in and out of all these things, and learn them for fun and at my own pace.

There’s more than plenty of tutorials on the internet for web design – the problem is knowing which ones are best, and in what order to take them. Started with the web design node at Wikiversity yesterday, but it looks like it’s not quite up-to-date, and there’s a lot of repetition in the material. Hmm.

But check out the designs at CSS Zen Garden! Some of them are absolutely beautiful.



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