This is part two of a three part series documenting the resources that helped me through my first year. In this list you’ll find web apps to help with your process, podcasts to get you caught up on new technology, and resources that will help get you that perfect job.
Dunking the Crotch
Part 1 might have felt a little short but that was intentional. There was an abundance of resources within each item and the point was to explore them all. In this stage you’ll get resources to help you answer some more advanced questions, learn about key players in the field and their story, and web apps that will make development and design a bit easier.
Dunking the crotch in the water is always the most difficult part but once it’s in you can enjoy the pool. This stage might feel like you have no idea what you’re doing and maybe feel uncomfortable at times but once you pass it you will not regret it.
Stop what you’re doing. Right click and select inspect element if you’re on Chrome or Firefox and get ready to have your mind blown! The great thing about web design is that you have the ability to go behind the scenes on every site you have access to. Forget about view source which essentially shows you the code but it doesn’t break it down like these tools do. These tools were meant to do this.
You can use this to recreate any site or to see behind the curtains when you find something amazing. You can do more powerful stuff once you get more familiar with these tools but that might be a little beyond this list.
Treehouse and/or Code Academy
It’s a good time to go over the basics to really have the concepts and semantics ingrained it in your head. Taking online courses will be a great way to solidify what you already know and give you a confidence boost when you realize you’re flying through most of the courses. Once you get to topics that don’t go by as fast then you know you’re hitting new terrain which is also good. There’s also the added bonus that some companies have started hiring people through these websites.
I use Treehouse and have been very happy with the quality of the content but it does require a subscription. Code Academy is free.
Whether you’re coming from a design or especially a development background it’s always good to have a tool to help you sharpen your typography. Typedia is like the Wikipedia of fonts.
Shop Talk Show is an hour long Q&A podcast about front end development. I can’t count how many times questions I’ve had have been asked and answered on this show. I recommend starting from the beginning and working your way up. Once you get about ten episodes in you’ll be able to answer some of the questions submitted. You can also submit you’re own questions and have it answered.
The Big Web Show is a podcast about everything web that matters hosted by the one and only Jeffrey Zeldman (Godfather of web standards if you don’t know since this is for beginners). The show features amazing guests telling their story and discussing their philosophy.
Some times what you need when you’re starting in a field like this is to hear how other people rose to the top. Some times their beginnings match what you’re currently experiencing. The Great Discontent (TGD) is a collection of interviews with artists, not just web designers, which tell their journey. TGD not only has great content it is also a great example of beauty through simplicity in web design. This would be the perfect site to explore using the element inspector.
HTML5 for Web Designers is the first book in the series and was also in the part 1 of this list. The rest of the series is as good and as quick to read. I recommend picking up a copy of the monumental book Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte.
If you’re looking for a site that has more content that focuses on UX and user research then UX Magazine is what you want to be reading.
If you’re going to be working in a team with a designer, whether its you or someone else, it would be a good idea to learn some photoshop etiquette. This is a beautiful site that goes through the do’s and don’t’s of photoshop when it comes to working in a team. Each point is expanded and gives you a clear visual of what things should and should not look like.
Method & Craft is a collection of advanced design tutorial videos that teach specific techniques that experienced designers have developed throughout their career. Learn how to use state and layer comps in photoshop to creating unique vector shapes in Illustrator.
You will want to bookmark this site. Subtle Patterns is a collection of, well, subtle patters that you can use on your designs. You can filter to show only the dark patterns or ones with stripes or maybe patterns that look like paper to help keep your sites from looking bland. Subtle Patterns is also coming out with a Photoshop plugin that will facilitate the use of their patters in mockups.
Have you ever been in a situation where you had the perfect color but you needed to find the perfect shade or a different tone? Colllor is a web app that can help with choosing the right colors and the right shades. You give it a hex value or choose from the color picker and it returns shades/tints, tones, a mix when you specify a second color, and similar colors.
Assuming you’re in a place where you’re confident enough with you’re new Web Dev skills you’ll need to find a job that can put all of that to use. Authenticjobs.com is the place to find jobs specifically in the Web/Design/UX/Frontend/[Whatever the new term is] field. Started by Cameron Moll, Designer himself, and used by the big and small companies. You can sort by specific position, filter by city, or search for remote jobs only.
If you’re searching for jobs then you’ll need to know how to answer some interview questions. This is a list of questions compiled by people in the industry specifically for front-end interviews. I don’t expect anyone to know the answers to every single question but being able to answer some and finding the answers to the ones unknown could be very beneficial.
Yes this list is longer than the previous one but at this point you should consume resources at a much faster rate. Just reading through this list will do you no good if you aren’t actively building or designing. Make up a project or recreate something but do something that will require you to put these tools to use.