Start Building Websites: 5 Books That Show You How

With Internet-based services and business ever on the rise, the demand for talented web designers has grown at an explosive rate, and with a minimal time investment you can develop the skills necessary to enter this exciting field. The following books will provide you with all the tools you need to start designing fully functional, standards compliant websites, so grab your library card and get ready to start designing!
Build Your Own Website the Right Way Using HTML amp; CSS

Hands down one of the best guides for beginning web designers, this book starts from square one, taking the reader from the basics of coding to more advanced topics, such as cross browser testing and form styling. If HTML looks like hieroglyphics to you, this book is a must read.

Starting with basic HTML syntax, you’ll learn how to create a simple HTML document and view the results in a web browser. No special software is required; if you have TextEdit or Notebook and an Internet connection, you’re good to go. From there, you’ll add Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to your repertoire, enabling you to change font styles, background colors, and other presentational elements, i.e. making your site look good.

To get the most out of this book, be sure to follow along with the exercises, and in doing so you’ll watch as your practice website develops into a fully functional site with an image gallery, a feedback form, and a stylish navigation menu. The latter part of the book is chock full of resources, providing instructions on setting up a web stat counter, using Blogger’s advanced set up features, and submitting your site to search engines.

(Note: Get free sample chapters of this, and other Sitepoint books, by visiting their website.)

Simply JavaScript

After learning the basics of HMTL and CSS, you’ll be eager to introduce more interactivity and animation to your website, such as rollover effects and form feedback, and JavaScript will give you the tools to do so. Another great title from the SitePoint folks, this book is an excellent way to develop your scripting skills through clear examples and exercises.

You’ll learn the basics of statements and variables (components of the JavaScript language) and how to use those components to build functions that will carry out specific actions. JavaScript can breathe life into a bland website, providing users with instant feedback as they fill out a form or creating pop up messages as users mouseover specific areas of a page, to name just a few of the many possibilities.

Designing With Web Standards

With a practice website in the bag, you’re probably ready to start designing, but before you print up business cards for your new venture, spend a little time reading over the basics of web standards. Standards are much like the grammar rules of the web world. By paying close attention to standards, you are helping ensure that your sites are accessible to a wide range of users, regardless of which browser they’re using or whether they are experiencing your site with the aid of an assistive device, such as a screen reader.

Web standards aren’t all about altruism either; compliance will drastically reduce the amount of time you spend testing your site in various browsers and ironing out any issues that crop up in, say, Internet Explorer versus Firefox. Tweaking is inevitable, but standards will save you many a headache while making your site more accessible to your users, so it’s truly a win-win.

Search Engine Optimization An Hour a Day

I won’t blather on about this particular book, as the title is pretty self explanatory, but suffice it to say that after you’ve spent all this time creating a fantastic site, you’re surely going to want people to find it. Don’t hide in the dark–learn how to climb your way to the top of search engine rankings and be seen!

PHP 5/MySQL Programming for the Absolute Beginner

PHP is an excellent, open source tool and an accessible way to get your feet wet with programming languages. Take, for example, a basic feedback form. With HTML you’re able to create the form itself; add CSS to the mix, and you can now control how the form looks, giving it a blue border, perhaps, or a stylish font. With JavaScript you can provide users with instant feedback, i.e. “Your password must contain 6 characters!” However, to retrieve the information entered into the form by the user, you’ll need the help of PHP.

This book walks you through the basics of programming by building gaming programs, like a roll the dice game or word finder puzzles. Author Andy Harris has a knack for breaking a complex topic into bite-sized, easy-to-understand chunks, and you’ll undoubtedly be impressed by how easily you’re able to master PHP. Again, follow through the exercises to get the most out of this book, and you’ll be well on your way to writing your own PHP programs.

With the above-mentioned skills under your belt, you’ll be able to build a wide range of robust websites with dynamic functionality, either for personal and professional projects, so start reading and have fun!

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