The current generation of web designers and developers do have things a lot easier than any previous generation – you don’t need to learn HTML, you don’t necessarily need to learn Photoshop and you only need a basic understanding of domain names and web hosting to get by.
Largely that’s because today, you can set up a brand new, brilliant looking website with WordPress, install a stylish pre-made theme and then personalise it to suit your own particular tastes or chosen company colour scheme. What you can have set up in just a few minutes is a virtually instant website that is ready for you to add your content and publish right away.
However, that doesn’t mean that people don’t want to understand how it all works and be able to personalise things on a much deeper level. Anyone can install a theme but not everyone can transform that theme to make it look truly unique. This means the desire to learn those basic web design and developer skills are still strong within a lot of people.
If you have the urge to learn more without actually going back to college to take a course, then you need somewhere to start. Here we present seven very useful sites for new webmasters that can help you in creating your first unique website.
If there’s a fountain of knowledge for all things WordPress, it is WPBeginner. This site covers everything about WordPress from the complete basics such as installing a theme and plugins through to complex coding issues. There are some 5,000 topics on the site with more being added all the time so if you do run into a problem, or you want to find out just how far you can tweak your site, then this is a great place to start. They even often offer different solutions for a single problem to help you find the right one to suit your needs.
There is a very comprehensive tutorial and guidance section as well as online tutorials and complete courses to follow. You can even buy some hard copies of books should you want to have something beside you to refer to later. In addition, there are screen-casts to help you see step by step how to do something – very useful for a visual learner or if you want to pause and copy the steps as you go along.
Perhaps the only complaint with this site is that the HTML and CSS topic area can be a little hard to sort from beginner to advanced.
This site is created by a company called Envato who are also behind the ThemeForest theme marketplace, one of the top places to find the right theme for your website. There are thousands of free tutorials and online courses to help you learn software development from mobile devices to web applications and everything in between.
The website is a combination of basic text tutorials, videos and even paid courses to help you to develop your skills further. You can search from complete beginners ‘how to’s’ through to complex professional level coding courses. It is a comprehensive site that will help you to find something to get the knowledge you need, from a choice of both free and paid courses.
Codeacademy is another online tutorial site and may be quite a familiar name to many because they have an active presence on social media, within schools and in more traditional press. The site does have something different to the others. Here you can walk through the steps to create the designs and elements in the tutorials but there is also a test at regular intervals to help ensure you have fully retained the information and mastered the topic.
The service is delivered in a more course based way rather than as a bunch of tutorials that you can follow at random, but this can be great if you want to learn in a systematic way exactly what you are doing and why. It also keeps going beyond basic topics into more complex subjects and higher level languages.
Material.io is a great resource as you begin your web designer career as it has many topics that you might not need immediately as you start but will quickly realise their importance. This site brings together theory, resources, and tools to help you understand the bare bones of web design. This includes learning about where content elements should be located, styling text and even working with colours. This can make all the difference between a complete amateur or more professional looking websites.
As you make your first start into the world of web design, you don’t usually start using a CSS framework from the very beginning. Instead, people tend to create their own core CSS elements to learn how it works, but the downside is that this can be a big drain on your precious time. Bootstrap is a framework designed to help you quickly develop a grid based design and contains a large element repository to enable you to get the hang of the elements you need. You can save time and simplify the process by just copying and pasting anything from buttons and tabs to forms and tables. All the elements found here are already mobile responsive too so there’s no need to redesign for smaller screens.
These seven sites are a great place to begin learning about web design. From learning WordPress through to graphic work and beginning with HTML and CSS, you should be able to cover everything from these great resources.
There are other sites that can help you master specific areas or more advanced topics but as you first start out in the industry, these sites serve as excellent places to create a foundation and build your knowledge.
Having a memorable and catchy domain name for your new website is also important. Find out why your domain name is crucial to the success of your site as well as how to secure a good name by reading our article: Unbelievably Easy Ways to Secure a Winning Domain Name
If you are looking to set up a brand new blog, then these elements can be just as important to you as if you were setting up a new website. Blogs are unique because they need to be fed regularly with fresh SEO content to enable it to establish and maintain a good ranking.
For those looking for some useful tips and guidance about blogging, see our article ‘Tips for Building a Better Blog‘ and also for bloggers and webmasters, see our article ‘Valuable SEO tools you should know about‘.