Unless your design education was specifically tailored to web design or front-end development, it’s likely that you did not come into contact with very much coding. Coding, programming, mark-up languages… these can be intimidating words for someone who comes from a predominately visual background. However, they don’t have to be. HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett is a book aimed at designers attempting to expand their skills into basic front-end development.
I’m a Designer, Why Should I Learn to Code?
About the Book
Let me just start by saying that this is a beautifully designed book. Although this alone is not a reason to buy it, for all you visual learners out there it certainly makes the process of learning easier. It features full-spread infographics explaining core concepts in more depth. These infographics are combined with code snippets and accompanying images on how they would appear on the web.
The book examines many aspects of HTML5 and CSS3, comparing these new methods to older methods and explaining when and why each is desirable. Because of the time required for the publishing and printing process, the book does not explore the most cutting edge developments in technology, but it provides what is necessary for designers who are new to HTML and CSS.
It includes plenty of useful design resources scattered throughout the text; there are links discussing web standards, free font libraries, color picking tools, and much more. Basic elements of typography, color, and search engine optimization (SEO) are discussed. It is certainly not a design book, but these sections create a clear link between design and development.
The only way to really learn something like HTML and CSS is practice. Although the book has a companion website with HTML files from the examples in the book, they do not have interactive content to really apply what you are reading about. A more participatory component such as Codecademy or CodeSchool could really enhance the learning experience.
Although it serves as an excellent primer, it lacks depth. There are brief mentions of responsive web design, but it does not delve into the process of actually creating responsive sites. Other complex topics also do not get the in-depth treatment that you would likely need to complete an entire website. You won’t be able to learn everything there is about HTML and CSS from the book, but it will show you the basics.
If you’ve been thinking about trying to learn front-end development this could be an excellent place to start. This book in combination with Don’t Fear the Internet, one of the many fun Jessica Hische side projects floating around the web, has inspired me to really begin digging into HTML and CSS. It may not be for someone that is looking to design complex, responsive sites or enhance a website they’ve already built, but it’s an excellent resource for a student designer trying to expand their skill set.
A wide variety of free resources on the web can give you an outline of the different tools in CSS and HTML, but the only way to truly learn these skills, like many other aspects of design, is through practice. Recreate your favorite website; look through source code of well-designed sites; try to build your own webpage. These are the only ways to completely understand how your design translates into the language of the internet.
Win a Copy
We are giving away a free HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites book! If you want to win, do one of the steps below:
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A winner will be randomly selected. Thank you and good luck!
UPDATE! A winner has been chosen. Kirsty Marr was the lucky winner. Thanks for all your comments and tweets