The beauty of working on the Web is that it serves up a wealth of resources at your fingertips, all just a click of a mouse away. Better still they’re all, for the most part, free. We’ve listed a number of recommended sites here along with short reviews, outlining what each site is about and why we think it’s worth a visit.
Rather than overwhelm you with a long, unstructured list, we’ve broken our recommendations down and organized them by topic.
We’ll be updating this list to take account of the Web’s constant evolution, check back for frequent updates and recommendations.
Organizations and Publications
The following organizations are worth bookmarking and checking into periodically as the Web evolves.
The W3C’s XHTML and CSS validators aren’t the only thing we have to thank our friends at the W3C for. They also maintain an extensive resource that includes the W3C A to Z (a comprehensive rundown covering everything you ever needed to know about web standards).
At first glance the W3C web site might seem a little dry; on closer inspection, however, it provides a wealth of information well worth tapping into.
Web Standards Project
The Web Standards Project (WaSP) is, in their own words, “a grassroots coalition fighting for standards which ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all.”
We have the WaSP to thank for the standards-compliant browser support we’ve now come to expect as a matter of course. Before it was established, standards support among browser makers was less than stellar to say the least, so thank you WaSP.
A List Apart
As their strapline states, A List Apart is “For people who make websites.” Its secondary strapline, in the web site’s footer, adds “From pixels to prose; coding to content.” Both cover it well. A List Apart features an excellent and diverse range of topics exploring all aspects of web development.
Better still, it has a writing team to die for: Jeffery Zeldman, Eric Meyer, Dave Shea, and Cameron Moll, to name but a few. A List Apart should be at the top of any self-respecting Web Standardista’s list of bookmarks, no question.
Digital Web Magazine
A great source of inspiration and web-related discussion, Digital Web magazine’s stated goal is “to encourage designers to be creative, developers to be innovative, information architects to be strategic, and overall [for all] to be well versed in the web environment.”
Digital Web magazine gathers a broad range of articles, reviews, and tutorials by a wide variety of leading writers. Covering everything from APIs to XML, Digital Web magazine is a fantastic resource for any aspiring Web Standardista.
Design and Inspiration
There are a wealth of design-related resources online. The following web sites are well worth a visit for inspiration and will help you develop a solid understanding of design.
Subtitled “Writings on Design and Culture,” Design Observer is a vibrant community-based web site gathering articles by an internationally respected collection of writers at the top of their form.
With articles on all manner of topics from, among others, Michael Bierut, Rick Poyner, Adrian Shaughnessy, and Lorraine Wild, Design Observer is an excellent resource you’ll want to tap into. Covering topics as diverse as the “Aesthetics of Wind Farms” to “What Design Schools Don’t Teach” Design Observer is the perfect source of design inspiration for web designers and non web designers alike.
The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web
Based on Robert Bringhurst’s excellent The Elements of Typographic Style (Hartley and Marks Publishers, 2004), Richard Rutter’s The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web introduces a wealth of typographic resources with a specific emphasis on how typography can be used to improve the Web.
Rutter’s personal web site is also well worth bookmarking.
A “publication about web design and standards,” Stylegala gathers together news and reviews about standards-based design including features on typography, design, standards, and style.
Stylegala’s gallery is more than a generic list of screenshots, with all its entries reviewed and rated. Stylegala’s CSS reference is also an excellent and comprehensive guide to CSS that’s you’ll come back to again and again.
CSS Zen Garden
Although now over five years old, Dave Shea’s CSS Zen Garden was one of the driving forces behind the promotion of CSS-based design and still provides inspiration today. With style sheets contributed by designers from all over the world, the CSS Zen Garden shows the power of CSS to change the visual presentation of a single, well-structured XHTML page in a multitude of ways, underlining what it’s possible to achieve with CSS.
Throughout this book we’ve underlined the importance of ensuring the web pages you create are accessible to as wide an audience as possible. One by-product of the Web Standardistas’ approach is the creation of well-formed, accessible web pages. The following web sites are well worth exploring to further your knowledge of accessible design.
456 Berea Street
Roger Johansson’s excellent web site places a heavy emphasis on accessibility and should be a first port of call for anyone wishing to improve their web site’s accessibility.
456 Berea Street isn’t just about accessibility, however; Johansson’s writing covers a broad range of web design-related topics. This, coupled with his excellent book reviews, makes 456 Berea Street an excellent resource.
Dive Into Accessibility
Although it was created by Mark Pilgrim in 2002, Dive Into Accessibility is still very much relevant today. Presented as a 30-day course which is free to take Dive Into Accessibility is essential reading for any aspiring web designer wishing to improve the accessibility of the web sites they create. Did we mention that the course is free?
Joe Clark’s excellent Building Accessible Websites (New Riders, 2002) is now available to read in its entirety online. An exhaustive introduction to accessible web design, Clarke’s book is required reading for anyone wishing to improve their understanding of accessible design.
Having written for a variety of publications, from Applied Arts to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Clark’s critical writings on design, typography, and a variety of other topics are also well worth reading.
North Temple Journal of Design
Subtitled “A collection of original design thought, commentary, and study,” North Temple is a web site created by a collective of designers from Salt Lake City, Utah.
On a mission to spread the good word about design, North Temple’s accessibility articles are both well written and well considered, and should inform any aspiring Web Standardista’s approach to the creation of accessible web sites.
The Web is all about people. We follow too many writers to list here (check the book’s companion web site for an extensive list). The following writers are not only extremely knowledgeable, but are also very good writers.
Dan Cederholm’s books have established him as a leading voice in the field of web standards-based design. His web site is equally inspiring, gathering together a wealth of articles and links to emerging trends. It’s also home to Cederholm’s excellent SimpleQuiz, which formed the basis of his first book.
Cederholm’s IconShoppe is also well worth visiting, home to a wealth of lovingly handcrafted royalty-free stock icons for the Web, all guaranteed to add a little sparkle to any web site.
Although not strictly focused on web design per se, John Gruber’s Daring Fireball is well worth bookmarking for a daily dose of well-founded hyperbole. With a focus on “Mac Nerdery, Etc.,” Gruber’s eye is well and truly on the technical pulse; highlighting emerging trends, his no-nonsense posts are entertaining and thoughtful.
Gruber is also the creator of the excellent Markdown, a tool that allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, and then convert it to structurally valid XHTML.
Jon Hicks, the creator of Firefox’s eye-catching icon and the excellent primate illustrations behind Silverback and MailChimp, gathers together a variety of writings on web development and design at his web site’s journal. His openness about his design process, in particular the way in which he shows step by step how he creates his excellent illustrations, is both inspiring and educational.
He also likes tea (and cheese).
The publisher of A List Apart and author of the excellent Designing with Web Standards, now in its second edition, Jeffrey Zeldman also cofounded the Web Standards Project in 1998. Zeldman’s writing on standards, design, code, and culture at the Daily Report (published since 1995) are inspirational and well worth following.
Zeldman’s role as an advocate for a web standards approach can’t be overstated; his extensive writing has helped to promote a huge improvement in the technical and visual design, usability, and accessibility of web sites through the careful use of XHTML and CSS.