We are experiencing the most exciting time to be web designers. Quality sites and applications are emerging so fast we can barely keep up. We are experiencing a transformation in the way we do business, share relationships, how we communicate, and live. The evolving nature of web standards with new technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 are making the web easier, faster, and more interactive. The astounding growth of the mobile/wireless web keeps us connected all the time, everywhere we happen to be.

But the boundless riches of our technologies also create issues with older browsers and some new devices that have limited or no support for current features. It is important to not only learn to create great websites and applications, but to learn the best practices that will assure our ability to evolve with our industry and always bring effective tools and processes to our practice.

Web standards provide a clear path to using the mark-up languages and scripting languages of the web as they are intended to be used. This path to the processes of design for the web, allows designers to avoid many of the issues faced by those who do their own thing regardless of what works best. In the book Designing with progressive enhancement: Building the web that works for everyone, authors Todd Parker et al., identify three conflicting objectives of web design. “We want to embrace all the exciting new technologies available to deliver compelling, interactive experiences. But at the same time, we’re deeply committed to ensuring that our sites are universally accessible, intuitive, and usable for everyone. And from a development perspective, it’s equally important to write the cleanest and most maintainable code possible” (Parker, T., Toland, P., Jehl, S., & Wachs, M., 2010).

Progressive enhancement is a process of responding to those objectives. It represents a comprehensive way of designing with care and responsibility for the outcome: websites that are available to everyone, with the most significant technologies available at any given time. It is not the only process that works to accomplish these objectives, but one that is recognized by many design professionals, and one that can be the basis of integration with any newer processes that may evolve along with other changes we will experience.

As learners beginning to engage in active study of web design practices, it is important that you work with web standards and recognized methods and processes of design, so that your employers and clients will know that you have the best of tools and training, to tackle the new problems being presented by clients in a changing world.

Parker, T., Toland, P., Jehl, S., & Wachs, M. (2010). Designing with progressive enhancement: Building the web that works for everyone. Berkeley, CA.: New Riders.

 


Looking for places to hang? Smashing Magazine offers “42 Design/Tech magazines to read”. I often have difficulty getting started on a project or writing assignment and I go to my aggregator and read until I find inspiration. I always start with some that I know consistently spark an interest, but I do a lot of exploring for new ideas and just to initiate the get-started juices flowing.

Sometimes you may need to find a community or a person who offers regular news, tips, design wisdom, etc. to get you started on new ideas or just to keep up with what professionals are doing. The Smashing article lists a lot of sites I haven’t checked out yet – so if any of you read one I haven’t seen, let the rest of us know it was of value to you and why – when you get a chance of course!

Some of my regular spots to hang include:
Digital Web Magazine, a solid edited work of many of the top designer/developers, with topics on everything anyone has felt important to write about.
A List Apart, sponsored by Jeffrey Zeldman, is also an important source of invited guest authors, some of the best in the business here also.
Boxes and Arrows is a serious journal approach to peer-reviewed articles about design, info architecture, and related topics. It has been an important voice in the industry since 2001.
Vitamin is a newer community oriented approach to zines, focused on the web design/developer industry. Good articles, job boards, community forums, etc.
9 Rules is also a community oriented site that collects the “best of the web” with articles, practical tips, and news of the industry.

A group of sites that are industry references, specialty areas, and news about the industry include:
Read/Write/Web, a no-nonsense place to keep up with emerging web trends, web 2.0, and general news.
Wired, online and print versions (AID library) is one of my must reads. My personal subscription to the print version is running on about 12 years now!
TechCrunch, is about technology issues affecting our industy – that stuff we absolutely have to keep informed about to do our work.
Mashable specializes in everything social networking, and it does it with flare and depth. Their reporters give live views of conferences about this exciting aspect of the industry.
.net is another online and print magazine with some of the top guys in the industry such as Andy Clark and Andy Budd serving on its editorial board. One of several outstanding British publications, I catch this one in our library every month.
Lifehacker is the tech workers answer to organization processes such as Getting Things Done. Useful and informative information about how to keep yourself participating in the information explosion and to many due date deadlines!
Digg and Slashdot bring us user directed news about the industry – each with its own unique process, but driven by its user community as to what is published, and important to be published. At least one of these may be a mainstay, depending on which you like.

With all of these resources, find the ones that are meaningful to you, and find out who is behind the effort. Get to know the names of people communicating about the industry, as well as noted designers and developers whose work you respect and admire. Build yourself a community within your domain of interest.


I really thought I had posted the links to everyone’s blog, but only now am I getting that done. My bad. But I hope all of you get into the spirit of having your very own website and put a little attention there. It is a great way to communicate with each other, and it is wide open as to what you can do with it. For now we’ll focus on learning HTML/CSS and how collaborating will help us all reach our objective.

If your name is not on the Fall07 blogroll, email me and we’ll get it added. If your name is there and the site is not working, catch me in class and let’s get it fixed.

For the energetic ones who would like to figure out blogging, there is an excellent article you may want to read. It is How to be Heard by Stephen Downes. It is a tad long, but a lot of good stuff in the first sections to give you an idea of what this is really about.


Welcome to the class blog for Introduction to Web Scripting. Please check this site for the latest news about the class, assignments, changes, and information related to learning about XHTML and CSS. Students are welcome to communicate with the instructor through the comments related to each post.


Welcome to Intro to Scripting Languages for the Fall ’07 quarter! A few new things will be added to the course this quarter to enable each learner to communicate with one another about class assignments, share project ideas, get feedback from one another, or just to share some new information you discovered about web scripting (or other topics you may be interested in). Everyone will create their on weblog (website like this one) and learn about blog based websites in the process. Some assignments will include blog related posting, but it can also be used however students wish to engage each other or the instructor.

Another new part of the course will be the opportunity to expand your learning about HTML/CSS by creating an online content aggregator. It can also help you become less dependent on an instructor for finding specific information you wish to learn about. An aggregator is free open source software that allows you to subscribe to as many websites with RSS feeds (other weblogs plus many other sites) and collect the ongoing communications from those websites in an orderly list that allows you to keep up with new posts automatically. So you can subscribe to a number of sites and read them all from one window – your content aggregator. You can also use the aggregator to link to a specific site you have subscribed to, simply by double clicking on the article you want to read more thoroughly.

We will be learning about weblogs and aggregators in the first class session, and everyone will have an opportunity to create their own weblog and aggregator.

I hope this begins a new opportunity for each of you, as you expand your “social networking” into your learning activities!