Where to Go from Here - Appendixes - Creating a Website: The Missing Manual (2015)

Creating a Website: The Missing Manual (2015)

Part 5. Appendixes

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix A. Where to Go from Here

By this point, you’ve taken a long voyage across the Web. You began by learning the fundamentals of site building, first by considering the HTML markup that structures every web page, and then by using the CSS styling language to transform the appearance of those pages. After that, you explored a range of web-based services for your site, from search engine optimization and visitor tracking to social media promotion and ad sales. Finally, you dipped your toe into the deep waters of web programming with a bit of JavaScript.

So now that you’ve explored so much, where should you go next?

The obvious answer is “To your computer!” To get the most out of your new skills, you need to practice them—starting with the tutorials in this book, and then by building websites on your own. That’s because there’s no substitute for experimentation. The hours you spend fiddling with your markup, changing the design of a page, and building a menu will give you a practical understanding of what works in the web world and where the traps lie.

Another reason to take to your keyboard is to check out the websites mentioned in this book. Using them, you can dig deeper into specialized topics and see more examples. Don’t worry, you don’t need to search through chapter after chapter to find these sites; they’re listed and linked on this book’s companion site at http://prosetech.com/web.

If you’re more ambitious, there’s plenty more to learn. Here are a few other resources you might use to make the jump from competent personal website builder to expert web designer:

§ Master CSS. The styling language of the Web offers plenty of advanced tricks for creating slick sites. You can find many of them in the latest version of the standard, CSS3, which is only now gaining widespread browser support. For a gentle review of all things CSS, including an introduction to many of the newer CSS3 features, check out CSS3: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly), or read one of the many other books on the subject.

§ Learn to program with JavaScript. When the Web was new, JavaScript was little more than a quirky gimmick. Today, JavaScript is where all the action is. Fancy-pants designers adorn entire pages with sliding, swooping, expanding, and fading effects powered by JavaScript. Hardcore programmers build apps, like browser-based versions of solitaire, using nothing but JavaScript. And many of the newer features in CSS3 and HTML5 can’t shine without at least a bit of JavaScript. Learning JavaScript is no small undertaking, but it unlocks worlds of possibilities. If you’re curious, check out a book like JavaScript & jQuery: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly).

§ Brush up on HTML5. Every page you’ve seen in this book is an authentic HTML5 document. Even so, you haven’t covered all the features and frills of the latest version of the standard. In particular, you haven’t learned anything about the many JavaScript-powered HTML extensions that let you tap capabilities like geolocation (finding where a visitor is in the world), web storage (saving personal information between site visits), and browser-based drawing (to paint shapes, text, and pictures onscreen). If you decide to learn more about JavaScript, you might also want to explore more about these features of HTML5, which are covered in HTML5: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly).

§ Optimize your site for mobile devices. Thanks to tablets and indispensable smartphones, mobile browsing has exploded. But your desktop site will look like little more than a tiny version of itself if you don’t dynamically refashion your pages for the small screen. A Few More Layout Techniques introduces this issue, but you can learn how to truly make your site mobile-friendly in HTML5: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly). Or, for a more thorough and technical discussion of web design in the mobile world, check out the Smashing Magazine book The Mobile Web Handbook (learn more about it at http://tinyurl.com/mobile-web-h).

§ Try out a content-management system. Understanding the standards that underpin a page is only part of the challenge of site building. To create a beautiful, content-filled, frequently updated website, you need to juggle a lot of details. That’s where content-management systems and blogging-and-more platforms like WordPress come in. With WordPress, you pick a layout and write the page content, but WordPress combines the two into a flawless site. Of course, it’s up to you to decide if you want to give up that much control to get the sort of features that WordPress offers. If you do, you’ll find that your understanding of HTML markup and CSS styling still comes in handy when you customize the templates and style sheet that govern a WordPress-powered site. To step off in this direction, check out WordPress: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly).

And no matter which path you take, happy travels!