Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

My new web design book out in April!

Friday, October 24th, 2014

web design start here

Hi,

I just handed in the last chapter to my new book ‘Web Design Start Here’ last week. I am told it should hit the stores in April. Yep, print is slow!!

Nonetheless, the principle work is done for me and it marks the first time in years that I am in print. Last time I wrote, was for Web Designer Magazine … I would say about 4-5 years ago! Time flies …

As we get closer to publication date, I will be releasing new video tutorials that are meant to support and accompany the book.

Thanks,

Stefan Mischook
KillerSites.com

Fullscreen Background Videos in Web Pages

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

icon-fullscreenbgs

Hi!

Using video as the background for a webpage was once only a nerds dream – no more! Check out our new standalone video lesson on how to do this:

https://webmentor.org/lesson/fullscreen-background-video

In this video, you learn about HTML5 and cutting edge CSS techniques. As long as you know basic HTML and CSS, you should be good to watch this video lesson. And yes, all the modern web browsers support this.

… At the same time, check out our new training site: webmentor.org.

Thanks,

Stefan Mischook
KillerSites.com

Is Dreamweaver still Relevant in Web Design?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

I like to start my articles with the conclusion – saves you time:

Dreamweaver is not relevant in modern web design. Why?

  • To make good websites, you need to understand the code behind the sites. You need to learn code.
  • Dreamweaver does have a code editor but there are many more capable code editors out there that are free or at least much cheaper than Dreamweaver.
  • Because you need to understand code, Dreamweaver’s point-n-click tools are becoming relics of the 1990’s when web code was so bad, that tools like Dreamweaver were a godsend.
  • The code behind web sites (html, css, javaScript) is so well structured now, and so much more powerful (HTML5 and CSS3 rock!) that you can easily put out great websites with relatively little coding – as compared to what is was like in the past.

Let’s elaborate on the last point. Web design in the past, when the languages (HTML, CSS) were not as mature, the process of coding a website was rote; it was repetitious and mechanical. You had a lot of crappy tinkering to do, just to get a website up. In that environment, tools like Dreamweaver were welcome because they wrote the code for you.

These days, with the much better browsers (that read and process code properly) combined with highly effective web design frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap and JQuery, apps that try to hide the code from you (like Dreamweaver) are not that useful. In fact, they are counter productive because often times, the code they generate can get in the way of building a clean effective website or web application – it’s just too thick.

Browser Developer Tools Put another Nail in Dreamweaver’s Coffin

All the modern web browsers have a very powerful set of developer tools that allow you to see exactly what is going on in your pages codewise; you can even change (for example) your CSS on the fly and see how it effects the page without touching your underlying code. This makes for ultra fast development.

developer-tools-chrome

Dreamweaver has these sort of tools but you have to be in Dreamweaver to use them and they are not necessarily 100% accurate in terms of what the web browsers will display – you might as well test in the web browser since people visit sites with web browsers and not Dreamweaver!

browser-tools

Click the attached images ->

Conclusion

There is nothing wrong with Dreamweaver if you largely ignore the point and click tools, and stick to the code editor. But if you do that, why bother forking out the big money for Dreamweaver, when you can find more effectively code editors like Sublime Text or Notepadd++ for free or for much much cheaper than Dreamweaver?

Stefan Mischook
Studioweb.com

High School Web Design

Friday, August 1st, 2014

k12 web design

Many K12 teachers are now being asked to teach web design for the first time. This presents a challenge since few teachers have professional web design and development experience.

I was approached about two years ago by a couple of schools who needed a way to more easily teach web design. Luckily, I had been working on an application that would more than just help: Studioweb is an interactive web design and programming training system that automates the teaching process:

  • automated quizzing
  • automated scoring
  • automated hinting

All based around a proven turnkey curriculum that I’ve been training people with for years.

The Key to Modern Web Design

Web design has evolved a lot over the last 20 years, the way websites are built today is nothing like the way we did it back in the early 1990’s. It is so different in fact, that web designers from that time would almost have to completely retrain themselves!

Today, web design is about:

  • HTML 5 … NOT XHTML
  • CSS and CSS3
  • Responsive web design – Bootstrap
  • WordPress
  • JQuery
  • JavaScript

You might have noticed that I did NOT mention Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash or even Dreamweaver. These tools are still used a lot but they are no longer central to web design. In fact, many web professionals never touch them!

The Recognition of the Importance of Code

One of the biggest changes in the last few years, is the world’s realising that code is now as important as reading, writing and math. When kids learn to code, you give them a practical skill set along with problem solving experience … all the while, you reinforce logical thinking.

Studioweb focuses on teaching real-world web design and programming techniques as well as the key fundamental concepts. Students come away with demonstrable skills that can be applied in the real world on real projects. The aforementioned cognitive benefits come as a bonus.

If you want to learn more or if you are interested in trying out Studioweb, feel free to contact me.

Stefan Mischook
Killersites.com

Learn one thing at a time when learning web design.

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

List of things

Hi,

I recently got an email from someone who felt overwhelmed with all the apps they were trying to learn – learning Photoshop, Fireworks and Dreamweaver all at the same time can do that!

Do one thing at a time says I!

I’ve been there, where it seems there is so much to learn, that it becomes overwhelming. First, don’t make the mistake of believing the tools (Photoshop, Fireworks etc) are the goal – they are not. In fact, once you understand web design (development), you will likely being using 10% of Photoshop’s features … as an example.

That said, it is best to concentrate on one thing, get functional skills and then move on to the next. Jumping around and learning bits of this one day, and a bit of that another day, will just cost you time because you will be constantly shifting gears when moving from one subject/app to the other.

Stefan Mischook
killerSites.com

The Design Process in Web Design

Monday, June 16th, 2014

design skills

Hi,

So I’ve cracked out my designers brush (mouse,) and started to work on a new website that we are setting up to log our adventures in Swift programming – Apple’s new programming language for both iOS and Mac OSX.

The Web Design Process is Iterative

You can watch the video below … but here’s the summary:

  • design/layout ideas should be explored by creating many versions and variations as quickly as possible.
  • don’t try to fine-tune your layouts when you are just working on basic themes and ideas.
  • once you’ve picked your basic style, then you can get into polishing it up.

Bonus tip: you want to leverage web frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap – it will make your life as a web designer or developer about 356.23 times easier!

Check out the video:

I hope that helps,

Stefan Mischook
killerSites.com

The Web Design Process in 4 Steps

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Hi,

Web design and development keeps evolving and in the last few years, they’ve been in fact merging! Yes, if you do web design these days, you have to learn:

  • Coding: HTML, CSS, HTML5 and CSS3
  • Basic programming: PHP, JavaScript
  • Web design frameworks: Bootstrap and JQuery

That all said, the web design process can be distilled into the following 4 simple steps:

  1. Sketch out a design, choose structure, choose colors. You would use Photoshop here a little.
  2. Slap it into bootstrap.
  3. Add behavior with PHP, JQuery and JavaScript.
  4. Deploy

You are done and so am I … for today!

Stefan Mischook
killerSites.com

Burnt-out Web Developer – and his return.

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

stefan mischook

Hi,

Web development can be an exciting game but it is also all-consuming – you cannot casually code. You cannot casually write good software while listening to tunes. You must be 100% there or your code will suck. Burnt-out developers are not uncommon … and I was one.

How to Burn Yourself Out

I loved to write software, it was something I would do even on Friday nights! It sounds really bad now but at the time, exploring a new Java library or building out a new module to some app, was exciting to me. The weekdays were for writing commercial code and the weekend was for playing with new code.

I still remember seeing the first members on my dating site posting profiles and sending messages. It was great fun. You start with few messages here and there being exchanged, then hundreds and (to my amazement) soon thousands!

… I eventually shuttered that growing dating site because I was not interested in making big money with it; it was just a hobby site for me, a vehicle to learn with. Maybe I should have left it running!? I think all the swingers posting profiles on there made me shut it down … not sure now, it’s been 15yrs.

I could tell you about many other similar projects/sites … but I think you get the idea.

The burnout Formula

You get burnt-out when you go too deep, too long and too fast into something. After years of code, code and more code … I was burnt. So for several years after, I did everything/anything but technology. It was sometimes almost painful for me to even pay attention to KillerSites, KillerPHP or any of the other sites/communities/apps I developed. The people were great but I just didn’t care what was going on in the tech world.

Interest slowly builds again

I don’t know why but starting a few years ago, my interest in technology slowly started coming back. Slowly. Psychology is a strange thing and any number of hidden variables can play into your mood. So for whatever reason(s), my interest is coming back and for the first time in years, I find myself learning a new language … it just seems like fun to me again.

Stefan Mischook
Killersites.com

Web Hosting Company Paying for YOUR Web Developer Training

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Hi,

About once a year we run a deal with Fatcow hosting, where Fatcow will pay for 80% of your web programming training and slash 60% of your hosting cost!

Why?
They hope that you will renew next year.

Some details:
Basically, you have to cough-up $23.15 (one time) + $3.15/month (60% discount from their normal price) for the first year of hosting. You are not obliged to renew. This deal gets you the hosting package + the Complete Web Programmer package – this normally goes for $99.

If you want to learn web development, this is as good a deal as you can get!

Check out out:

http://www.killervideostore.com/killer-offers/

Thanks!

Stefan Mischook
killerSites.com

Top 10 Web Design Teaching Tips!

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

lightbulb

Hi!

This blog post is for teachers teaching web design and programming … but if you are learning HTML and CSS (or any other language) many of these tips will be helpful to you too.

Let’s start with a teaser:

1. Start with an Easy Language:

Don’t use hard to understand languages like Java, C#, C++ to teach beginners programming or code! Stick to simpler languages like  HTML and CSS and then move to say PHP or JavaScript. Once your students have a grasp of basic coding and programming concepts, then you can move into the more complex languages … if you need to!

2. Don’t teach A to Z:

Teaching people to code has a lot more to do about leaving out the non essentially elements of a language. Don’t cover every nuanced aspect of the HTML link tag, don’t cover all the ways a method can be created in PHP … leave out the less often used aspects of a language and save it for later. Just expose your students to the key aspects of the language, just enough so they can move forward.

If you want the other 8 tips, follow this link.

Thanks,

Stefan Mischook
killerSites.com

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