When I began working in the web industry (1998) things were very different. Every web site was designed with the use of tables. At the time, tables were a wonderful thing for designers, giving us control over every aspect of the page. Now however, tables are a big no-no.
The new preferred method of design layout is CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets. If you are a web designer and you don’t know CSS then you better learn! I’m not going to explain why, instead I’m going to point you in the right direction because many people have already explained it much better then I can.
Here are several articles on the topic:
- Web Page Reconstruction with CSS
- Converting a Page to CSS
- Effective Use of Cascading Style Sheets
- Keep It Simple: Keep CSS Simple
- A List Apart
- Good book – “Designing With Web Standards” by Jeffrey Zeldman
CSS, as you will quickly find out in the above mentioned articles, goes hand in hand with usability. If you don’t know what usability is, then you better learn that one as well because going forward the web is going to be much more focused on being usable by all types of people. In short, usability means that you are making the web site user friendly and accessible by all people, whether they are blind or incapable of using a mouse.
Here are some helpful articles on usability and accessibility:
- Three Ways to Improve External Search Engine Usability
- Flash Usability
- IBM Web Accessibility Checklist
- Usability and the Web
- Usability Basics
- A Business Case for Accessibility
Being a web designer today means staying at the front of web technology and web standards, not just making a site look pretty. The sooner you learn about CSS and usability the better off you will be, and the more desirable you will be as clients begin to learn about the importance of these things as well. Good luck!