Web design, standards, the universe, etc..
Ozcranes is a fully volunteer site. We wanted it to look good, but with fast enough loading and efficient navigation for all our users. Thanks to the amazing help offered by the Web Standards community worldwide, we discovered it's possible (in time) to learn good design, on no budget, and keep learning. Here's some of the outstanding resources that helped on the way, and (at the end) our ‘to do’ list of future tasks.
- Standards & Sites
- Why Standards?
- Outstanding sites
- No budget, no drama
- Coloured scrollbars
- It's fun (true)
Standards and sites
Web Standards offer just what Ozcranes needed – good usability with maximum design possibilities. Roger Johanssen says it all so well.
Outstanding standards sites Australian companies and designers making a difference worldwide – Max Design, Webboy, westciv, the Web Standards Group. Indispensable sites overseas include: A List Apart, Position is Everything and 456 Berea Street. Visit them to view superb and workable designs and discover why web standards matter.
Disclaimer: coloured scrollbars As mentioned, Ozcranes checks code with free validation tools, but the scrollbars are a slight exception to web standards. They're only visible in IE, but readers like scrollbar styling to match the site.
Coding is fun Hand-coding and mark-up really is fun: don't you always like to know what's under the hood? Why not, as a small (or one-person) team on your project, watch with interest the interaction and sometimes conflicts, between you the designer, you the client, you the perfectionist, you the web user, you the writer, you the artist, you the coder..experience the satisfaction when things work and look good, and when there's great feedback from users and contributors. Then, move on to improve it all..
Couldn't have started without..
- Wonderful free tutorials at key Australian sites with international web standards impact: westciv, Max Design (css, lists and layout) and SitePoint. Overseas, css and html articles from Your Html Source and Html Dog. (A person planning a career in web design would look seriously at westciv's paid on-line courses and StyleMaster program).
- Full standards documents from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), for xhtml 1.0 (xhtml1.zip), html 4.01 (html40.zip) and css2 (css2.zip): Total 1.49MB.
- Free online code validation service (W3C) for CSS2.1 and xhtml/html. Validation also available free at html-help. These checks are fast even at rural internet speeds. And how nice to get the ‘all clear’ message (except for the coloured scrollbars, of course)..
- Keep links up-to-date: The Web Design Group (html-help: Link Valet) offers free and absolutely invaluable link checking. We use them regularly to check the whole Ozcranes site for changed or problem links.
- Troubleshooting advice; advice; tips; and two sites with excellent forums, Site Point and the Web Standards Group. A third forum site css-discuss is again a key resource now they seem to have solved the spam problem.
- Accessibility sites starting with links from the Web Standards Group and Juicy Studio. Excellent: Joe Clark's book on-line, also search for ‘accessibility’ in the Lab at 456 Berea Street. And some good stuff from Trenton Moss, plus a range of advice at Web Style Guide, or at SitePoint, more detail here. Again the excellent Joe Clark on web accessibility and pdfs. And here's the WASP (Web Standards Project) with a business case for accessibility. Yes, shouldn't this apply to non-profits as well as business, eh?
- To make a favicon – from Chami (the Html-Kit people), a wonderful free resource. Make a 64px by 64px (72dpi) image for your favicon, then visit Chami's favicon page and they will convert it to your favicon, on-line.
Using every day..
- A Text Editor: Ozcranes started with Notepad (free with Windows), it's a clear and simple format for editing CSS files. All our html files are now coded and saved as UTF-8 with HTML-Kit. This excellent and customisable editor from Chami is free for personal use (download 2.8MB) and includes HTML-Tidy
- Essential browsers – IE7, IE8, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome.
- Great tools with Mozilla Firefox, add Chris Pederick's Web Developer extension (donationware, 145 KB)
- For IE: free Web Accessibility Toolbar with links to many tests, validations, text and screen resizing etc
- The Hex: Web colours (forget ‘safe’ but remember accessibility) eg from here
- Special characters and symbols (called ‘Character Entity References’) from the unzipped W3C xhtml/html standards or a helpful site
- 456 Berea Street and A List Apart – regular interesting articles
- Zen Garden – the same html file presented in hundreds of (stunning) different designs, varied by each designer's css and graphics
- The Web Standards Group ongoing ‘Ten Questions’ series: interviews with leading Web designers, accessibility experts and others, fully archived
- Veerle's Blog – graphic design blog with tutorials
Check these links for reviews, contents, and discussions on recommended books. And – in today's cost-cutting publishing world, where technical books routinely have a few errors in the first edition – links to errata are also listed, where available
- CSS in 10 Minutes, by Russ Weakley of Max Design (Sam's Teach Yourself). News, contents, errata from the author at Max Design
- Build Your Own Website the Right Way using Html and CSS, by Ian Lloyd (SitePoint) – reviews linked from the same page at SitePoint.
- Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm (New Riders). Contents, samples, errata at the author's site; review at 456 Berea St
- MathML (with a link for IE users to download MathPlayer from Design Science). And how to serve pages as xhtml+MathML, when needed for accessible html pages with stats formulae..meanwhile anything with lots of stats will need to be in pdfs
- Search function?
- A Contact form. Meanwhile, email or write to Ozcranes Contacts
- Alternative layouts: A Zoom – really large fonts; and something minimal for hand-helds
- Gazeteer: A list of places mentioned on Ozcranes, with their locations
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