What’s next?

Some final thoughts for my beginning HTML class.

Hi Everyone:

First I want to say it was a pleasure having you in class this semester. As I’m reading through the final reflective writing assignments I’m seeing common threads so I thought I would address some of the thoughts in this blog post so everyone has access to it following the close of the course.

This class has been an introduction to several different technologies. The objective was to give you an overview of how the different languages work together to create good content for today’s user agents (browsers). Here are a few summarizing thoughts:

  • Define the purpose of your site. What are the 1 or 2 primary focuses of the site?
  • The content should support the goal.
  • The media, images, features all should support the goals of the site. If the goal is to sell and you aren’t selling anything, then the site is not doing what you need it to do.
  • Organize the content, i.e. all media, images, forms, sections, articles, whatever so you know how the site should be layed out. How easy can you make it for your audience to get to the meat of the site? Don’t make them hunt.
  • All of the languages used to create a web site are plain text. The symbols, tags, brackets, parenthesis, etc are the instructions that tell the browser what the plain text means. Google semantic markup and read a few articles. Here’s one, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_presentation_and_content
  • HTML puts an element on a page. It gives structure to the content. Choose the right HTML element (tag) for the right job.
  • CSS contols layout and formatting. It contols the properties of the HTML elements; i.e. it controls the presentation of the structure.
  • JS is the client-side scripting language that we use to change or modify the HTML elements and their properties, based on events or conditions that exist; i.e. click a button – something happens.

Now you have the basic overview. You have a growing vocabulary and sense of what does what. Learning scales does not make you a musician. Knowing how and when to apply them in context does. Now you are ready to start practicing what you have learned.

Build web sites. Start building them for fun. Look at an ad in a magazine. How would you build it using HTML and CSS? Try it. You learn by doing. Following are other good resources to take you to the next level.

  • A list apart: One of the first online magazines dedicated to people who build websites for a living. (http://alistapart.com)
  • Codeacademy: A very well respected site where you can learn scripting by doing. It’s free. Great place to learn Javascript (http://www.codecademy.com/tracks/javascript)
  • W3schools.com: Good reference for HTML tags, CSS properties and values, JS basics and basic coding examples. I use it all the time (http://www.w3schools.com)
  • Mozilla Developer Network: Another good resource for learning how the technologies work. (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/?icn=tabz)
  • stackOverFlow.com: Good resource to getting answers to your coding issues. How do I do this? Stack Overflow probably has the answer. (http://stackoverflow.com)
  • Web Frameworks: You are not the first web designer to solve this issues. Many designers have build up a series of pages, CSS files, and supporting technologies that they use again and again to build their web sites quickly and reliabiltiy. They have made their systems avaiable to the community for free. Learn them and you’ll speed up your design time and your sites will look great. No need to re-invent the wheel; i.e. you want to. Twitter Bootstrap, and Foundation are popular ones. There are more coming all the time. Just do a Google search on HTML frameworks.
  • After you leaern the basics of JS, learn jQuery. It makes JS more accessible for non-programmers.
  • Get familiar with WordPress. It is an entry level CMS (Content Management System). Most web sites are created with CMS backends so the end user doesn’t have to code to post an article, blog, marketing info, create a portfolio, etc. If you want to work for an agency, they’ll want you to be comfortable with WordPress.

That’s it. Now. Go forth, learn some more stuff, and create.

Dale R Rogers, M.Ed.
Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator, Multimedia Design
Nashville State Community College

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eLearning and Instructional Designer. Web Designer. Assistant Professor for the Multimedia Design Concentration at Nashville State Community College. Eleven years with Nashville State. Seven years as a corporate trainer, teaching CAD, design, and office applications. Developed Associate in Applied Science degree program in Multimedia Design and teach web-standards, Flash, html, CSS, web animation, and design courses. Teach in both classroom and online environments. Education: M.Ed. in eLearning Technology and Design B.S. in Mechanical Drafting and Design Technology