Today’s topic is web design.
Just like typography, web design can seem like a pretty complex subject. But there are so many awesome (and non-techie friendly) options for learning the basics and beyond. Making a badass, user-friendly site that represents your brand is only a few clicks away. Let's do this.
When I made my first attempts at web design, I was in design school. I was clumsy with the tools and the thought of learning HTML deeply frightened me. Since then, I've learned that these feelings of terror and bewilderment are totally normal, and kind of a web designer's right of passage. It's definitely one of those fake-it-'til-you-make-it situations, and diving right in is key.
Choosing a Platform
First, decide on your level of commitment to the design and maintanance of your website. There are different platform options, or ways to build your website, depending on your level of interest and prior knowledge in web design. (This is assuming you don't want to code your site from scratch, and let's face it — there's really no need for that anymore).
Rundown on the biggest names in the biz:
Wordpress - Great for beginners. The simple interface and ample user support makes this a good jumping off point. There's a free and paid version of the platform. The free version hosts your content for you (but is more limited design-wise), and the paid version makes you host the site yourself (but is much more versatile design-wise). This is what I started designing with and continue to use today.
Typepad - Another oldie but a goodie, also great for beginners, from what I hear. There's no free version of this platform — accounts range from $8.95 - $29.95 per month. It's a popular platform, and some of my favorite sites use it.
Tumblr - Arguably the little hipster on the block. Started as a site for posting endless streams of photos, but has evolved into a legitimate genre of website. Might be best for image-heavy sites light on varied sorts of written content or e-commerce needs.
Squarespace - Probably the most robust in terms of variety and flexibility. This is becoming a top choice among small business owners for these reasons, but is also a bit more pricey than the other nearly-free options out there. The templates are highly designed and very lovely. Free plug – Redress runs on Squarespace.
Learning the Basics
Even if you choose a content management system like the ones above, sometimes knowing a little code can be really helpful. Being able to fix glitches in the back end of your site or customize your CSS will keep you sane and happy.
- W3Schools - Great site for beginners (and experts) looking to learn HTML and CSS or brush up on their skills.
- Codecademy - Another free space for learning to code through interactive lessons.
- Don't Fear the Internet - A site developed by several major players in the graphic design world that cut through the jargon to tell you the basics in plain english. Great resource specifically targeted to "non-web designers."
Lastly, here are a few classes video-based tutorials for you visual learners and hands-on people.
- Lynda.com - A trusted, establish site with paid video tutorials on web design basics and beyond.
- Fundamentals of Design: How to think like a designer - Learn some web design basics and build a home page for your portfolio
- Introduction to HTML: Build a Portfolio Website - A class with emphasis on learning HTML. Would be a good starting point.
- All Skillshare web design classes...