Learning Web Design
Web page design is one of the best technology skills you can master. No complex math is necessary, and you can learn enough of the basics to build beautiful sites in weeks instead of years. From there, you can expand your knowledge into the technologies that run sophisticated modern sites. You’ll also be able to gain more control over your sites, and often you’ll pay a lot less for hosting. You can also use your skills to build sites for others and create additional income.
Here are some excellent, free resources for learning more about web design.
Udacity’s Intro to HTML and CSS is a self-paced class lasts approximately three weeks, and will give you everything you need to start creating basic web pages from scratch. From there, check out the free courses that correspond to their Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree to continue building your technical knowledge and gain practice.
Even if you don’t want to learn the code behind websites, Open2Study’s Writing for the Web course can help you get the most out of any online platform. Generally offered in the Fall and Spring, it is free to enroll and lasts approximately four weeks. From there, try their User Experience for the Web self-paced course.
Codecademy offers a range of free, self-paced tutorials to learn how to code all aspects of the web, including modern frameworks and technologies.
Resources for Images
It can be difficult to find images that are legal to use on your own website, and even harder to find the original creator so that you can provide proper attribution. Resist the temptation to take the first thing you find off of a site like Google Images or Bing Image Search, and see just how impressive this range of free-to-use image resources can be; you’ll often find images that rival pay sites.
Unless it’s explicitly stated otherwise, all images on the web are considered to be owned and controlled by the original creator. That means you can get into trouble if you use images without getting permission. Luckily, there are many creators who generously give their work to the world for free. The terms under which creators choose how their work can be used are called licenses, and various licenses give you differing options for the use of the work.
Creative Commons is an organization that provides a simple, easy-to-understand set of rules that allow sharing of work while preserving the rights of creators to retain ownership of it. Creative Commons licenses include the following components:
- CC0 puts the work into the public domain, without any restrictions
- Attribution requires you to give credit to the creator
- ShareAlike requires you to keep the same license for any derivative works
- NoDerivs requires you to keep the work complete and in its original form
- NonCommercial prevents you from using the work for commercial purposes
Image Search Engines
http://compfight.com/Choose Creative Commons License
A simple interface to locate images on photo sharing site Flickr using tags and descriptions.
Another image search interface, this one specifically indexing Creative Commons and public domain works.
Creative Commons Search
Search for media directly on the Creative Commons site and have the option of including not only images, but also video and music.
Professional photographer Folkert Gorter provides the world with incredible and highly imaginative images under an Attribution Creative Commons license.
This site offers millions of free images for use in your work, and as a result the quality can be mixed, but there are often a wide variety of choices.
Ryan McGuire offers a wonderful array of striking and whimsical photographs from his collection, all with a CC0 license.
Can We Image
This is a custom-built search engine to find media released into the Wikimedia Commons, making it much easier to access media and determine available licensing.
Huge searchable database of Creative Commons CC0 (Public Domain) images, including illustrations, vector graphics, and videos. Quality can vary, as a result, however there are a lot of top-notch contributions that aren’t difficult to unearth.
Now that one of the most beautiful free photo repositories has a crowdsourced search interface, it’s one of the primary go-to resources for our own posts.
If you use WordPress, consider a plugin like ImageInject, which offers an easy way to search for and include free images in your posts.
Making Your Own Images
Canva is one of our secret weapons for making our own original graphics. With gorgeous templates, lots of free media, and the ability to bring in images from external sources (like the ones listed above, or pictures of your own), it’s easy to create customized graphics for any web site. They also have a large library of low-cost images that you can license in your work, some of which have few free alternatives.
Resources for Social Networking
If you’d like to get the most out of your professional social network, whether it’s finding the right people, staying in touch, or finding great things to share, here is a list of some of our favorite free tools.
Buffer is an online tool that allows you to schedule posts to social media outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Their free tier is enough for most purposes, with 10 scheduled posts per profile and one profile per social network.
Pablo by Buffer
This add-on for Buffer can also be used as a standalone service to create quick and easy shareable graphics for your social network. Compelling visuals provide more impact to your posts, and it couldn’t be easier to create the with this tool.
If This Then That (IFTTT) can do much more than simply help you with your social networking, so its worth exploring all of the “recipes” it provides. The power of IFTTT is in the connections it makes between different online services. You designate a trigger, and then determine what happens when the trigger occurs. For example, you have have it post to your Facebook page every time you put up a new content on your WordPress blog, or send to Instagram any time you tag a photo as a favorite. There are hundreds of fantastic combinations that will make your online life easier.
Moz’s Beginners Guide to Social Media
The Internet marketing gurus at Moz offer a comprehensive guide to getting the most out of social media from a professional and business standpoint. Take a fresh look at social media to see how business leverages these tools, and find out how you can take advantage of them to increase your own ability to let the world know how awesome you are.
Feedly puts together web site posts from across the web and displays them in an easy-to-use form so that you can find great content for sharing with your professional social network. Their free account is all most people need, and it integrates well with services like IFTTT (and hundreds more).
Resources for Inspiration
The resources below can help spark ideas, demonstrate concepts, and provide strategies that you can use for your own online presence. While some of them are from world-class web designers and large teams, others feature ordinary individuals doing the extraordinary.
Webby Award Winners
Browse through these award-winning websites in a variety of categories to see what the best designers are creating, and vote for your own favorites each year. In addition to discovering superb visual composition and exciting new possibilities, in many cases you’ll also find sites that deliver content that’s every bit as good as the design.
This collection features thousands of human-curated websites to provide fresh perspectives and show us all how the best designers create functional and aesthetically-pleasing sites. Browse by style, type, or subject.