Kathy Jacobs Design and Marketing

Resources for Website Development and Design

A friend recently talked to me about making her own website.  She has no experience and wanted to start at the very beginning.  She asked if I could recommend some resources to her.  As I started to send her a series of emails with detailed information about specific topics and suggestions for resources, it occurred to me that I might share this information with more people if I posted it on my website.  All of the resources that I am listing below I have used.  I attempted to provide a brief summary or a little background for some of the products or resources.

Online resources

If you are visually oriented, or if you have a hard time learning just from reading manuals and resource books, Lynda.com provides some very useful step-by-step video tutorials.  The videos include active screen shots as the narrator talks about each step so you can follow along.  The best thing is, you can pause things when you need a break.  No need to sit through hours at a time.  They also offer online courses.  If you want to take a trial run, you can peruse through their free sample training before signing up or making a purchase.  They have a lot of positive testimonials on their site which attest to the usefulness of their resources.

Webmonkey.com ® (part of the Lycos Network ®) provides useful tools, resources, and articles for web developers.  You can peruse information for your skill level (beginners, builders, masters) or just browse all reference topics and the how-to library that covers several categories including authoring, design, multimedia, e-business, programming, and backend. 

The Pew Internet and American Life Project
This research provides insights into the way Americans are using the Internet, who is using the Internet, their attitudes toward it, and how that has changed in the past several years. This is very useful information for anyone on the Internet. They produce PDF reports and articles that can be accessed on their website.

Jakob Nielsen's website useit.com
Jakob Nielsen is an expert in web usability. He writes a column about usability issues on a regular basis (about every two weeks), and you can sign up for his newsletter or just visit his website for new information regularly. He also produces reports and has written several books.

Protecting email addresses on web pages
A tutorial produced by Mississippi State University that uses javascript to encode email addresses to avoid spam.


“HTML the Definitive Guide" by Chuck Musciano and Bill Kennedy
I am sure there is a newer version of this book out there now, but this is the book that I originally read.  Now it is a little dull at some times, but that’s just because it’s discussing code.  And to me, that isn’t the most interesting of topics.  But it is very useful to know at the very least the basics of html, especially if you use a program like Macromedia Dreamweaver.  I suspect this book is more useful to beginners, but it may also serve as a useful reference for more skilled web designers/developers.

"Beginning CSS Web Development From Novice to Professional" by Simon Collison
CSS can change your life.  If you aren’t using it, start!  This book guides you through some CSS tutorials that teach you how to code specific tags to creating layout with CSS.  It is very clearly written with great examples included – both a visual and the code.  There is a CSS reference in the back of the book for those of us with poor memories.  My copy of this book is highlighted and has sticky-tabs sticking out everywhere. 

"Search engine optimization for dummies" by Peter Kent
Ok, I know that this will make me sound like a geek, but I really enjoyed reading this book.  Coming from the perspective of a designer, rather than a web marketer, there was so much useful information in this book.  Learning about search engines and how to make your website friendly to them is so important.  This book will give you insight into the SEO field and make you want to learn even more!

"Homepage Usability: 50 websites deconstructed" by Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir
A close friend gave me this book.  If you design a website but have never stopped to think about how people view and use websites and how your design affects their experience, this book is a must!  The authors give an in-depth analysis of 50 websites and provide comments and suggestions for each with detailed reasons behind their suggestions. 

"Don’t make me think: A common sense approach to web usability" by Steve Krug
This one is an easy read – it’s short, well designed, and easy to read.  The graphics really support the text and help you understand each concept.  He gives some excellent before and after suggestions that illustrate his chapters.  This book will give you a different perspective on website design – the user’s! 

Tools and Programs

Google analytics: https://www.google.com/analytics/home
A must for you if you want to learn about who is visiting their website, what they are looking at, and how to improve your site.  There are many other tools out there, but this one is free and provides a lot of useful information. 

Email obfuscator: http://alicorna.com/obfuscator.html
This helpful tool can provide your email address in code that you can place on your website so that you will be less likely to receive spam.

Check how your website appears in different browsers and versions. Visit the Browser Shots web page.