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WindyHill Design

resources for experienced designers

If you're doing web design and need help, or want to join a supportive Internet-based group with a web design focus, here are a few resources for experienced designers...

Design communities:

Evolt.org: a web-based organization for intermediate to advanced web designers and developers, with great resources, articles and a mailing list.  There's lots of knowledge here, from coding to standards to server issues.  The articles are great, and you can search the "tips harvest" for technical tips big and small, all of which seem to be accurate and well-written.

AListApart.com: a reborn resource web site for experienced designers and developers.  There's no mailing list in this incarnation of AListApart, but the site is filled with interesting and ever-changing resource articles, opinions, and discussion forums. 

Design concepts

Useit.com: Jakob Neilsen's site, that focuses on useability and information technology (IT) issues.

Graphics and Flash

The Flashpro mailing list: A mailing list for people who are very, very serious about Flash.

Typography

FontSeek.com: for when you need to find that typeface now.

Standards and Initiatives

W3C.org: the site for the World Wide Web Consortium, where web standards are discussed and formulated.  Research the standards for HTML, CSS, XML and more.

W3C's WAI: the site for the World Wide Web Consortium's Accessibility Initiative, where accessibility standards are discussed and formulated.  Read the most up-to-date information about accessibility.  It was a moral imperative before, and now it's becoming a legal requirement in web design.

Aware.org: the Aware Center is an accessibility resource site suported by the IWA/HWG.  The current Aware Center director is Kynn Bartlett of Idyll Mountain Internet.

Professional Organizations

AIGA: the site of the American Institute of Graphic Artists.  Professional artists, graphic arts teachers and graphic arts students can join the Institute.

resources for beginning designers

IWA-HWG

The HTML Writers Guild If you're a beginning web designer and you plan to teach yourself web design, IWA-HWG, is a good place to start.  (In 2001, the HWG merged with the International Webmasters Guild (IWA), creating IWA-HWG.)

IWA-HWG runs a number of mailing lists which give you a chance to engage in dialogue with other people who are still learning as well as those who know their stuff.  Even if you're teaching yourself from the best books, and looking at the best examples of others' work, there are issues that can only be worked out by sharing and discussing your ideas and concepts with other people.  The IWA-HWG's mailing lists are perfect for this. 

In addition, IWA-HWG runs online eClasses year-round.  Some of the classes are for complete newbies, and others are for people working at a more advanced level.  The online classroom experience that the IWA-HWG offers is a fertile ground for learning, as it involves everyone posting their work for the rest of the class to view and the teacher to review, so you're exposed to others' solutions to the teacher's assignments, which broadens your approach considerably.

Other Help for Beginners

Are you just starting out with web design and find that you love to do it, but it's frustrating lots of the time?  Remember that there's nothing like the experience of trying different things and trying to make them work, for teaching you what you can and cannot do.  When you're in learning mode, you'll get more in-depth knowledge from your failures than from your successes, so keep at it!

Also: design in general is a complex things to learn.  It requires lots of "cross-training" of different areas of your brain!  You'll need to learn about and combine elements of visual arts, culture, useability, interface design, interactivity, and so on.  How long would it take you to become a good basketball player, tennis player, golfer, footballer, rider, skater, or snowboarder?  How much time would you devote to that sport if that were your goal?  That's the kind of commitment you need to make in your journey to become a good web designer.  At the begginning, you'll be so full of questions that you'll feel at sea.  As you learn, you'll put your questions behind you, one by one, until you have real competence.

Here are a two technical and design resources you'll find helpful:

Webmonkey: this well-known resource site was recently redesigned, and is now organized in sections for beginners, "builders" and "masters", so it will be easy for you to find the information you need at the right level of ease or difficulty.

About.com's Web Design Section: though not as technically rich as Webmonkey, it's a good place for the beginner to get oriented, participate in discussion forums, and ask questions. Sign up for their web design newsletter, by joining this site.

If you need stock photos, illustration, sound or type, try Eyewire.  (It was recently bought by Getty Images, and will be merged.  It's still open for a short time now, though.)  You can license individual items via download, or collections via CD or download.  Eyewire offers Adobe, ITC and Agfa Monotype type libraries, amongst others.  We've used Eyewire for type and stock photos, and our experience with them has been excellent to date.

Inetis Ltd. makes a great freeware tool, DotColor, which sits in your Windows Tasktray as an eyedropper icon until you double-click on it to activate it.  Once activated, DotColor follows your mouse cursor around the screen, magnifying whatever you're pointed to, displaying the hexadecimal and RGB color values of the pointed-at item. To deactive, go back to the eyedropper in the Tasktray, and double click on it again.

The Tools We Use

What tools do we use to create sites?  Our development platform is Windows PC's. 

For coding, we use Allaire's Homesite, a great HTML editor.  When we need a WYSIWYG editor, we use Macromedia's Dreamweaver, which we use to get working models of pages up fast; we also use DW's templating function, to make it easier to change page layouts site-wide, and create content within a layout without disturbing the layout.  We use Ipswitch's WS_FTP Pro for easy management of FTP publishing functions.

For graphics, we use Adobe's Photoshop, Imageready, Illustrator and PageMaker, as well as Macromedia's Fireworks, and Freehand.  For Flash animations, we use Macromedia's Flash (what else!).  We have also used, and been happy with, Jasc Software's Paintshop Pro.

And we love our Wacom Intuos graphics tablet for vector graphics and pressure-sensitive bitmapped texture, blending and line work.

 

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