In no particular order, here are the people, things, sites, and teachings that helped to launch the latest PodShop web site.
Without them, life wouldn't be as sweet as it is. Thank you.
Bulletproof Web Design
Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS
Author: Dan Cederholm
After Googling my way to SimpleBits, I discovered that I had not only found a great blog, but a great resource for all things Web design. This book was the first investment to enlighten myself in the ways of XHTML, CSS, and Web standards, and I was definitely not disappointed.
Just cracking the book open is inspiring; initially leafing through it, the book seemed more like a catalog than an instructional book on Web page development and design. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be buying stuff in this thing or learning from it. After digging in, I found that Dan breaks things down in a nice structured format; the screen shots and images really help out with the flow of the material he presents.
Every chapter provides a run-through of an example page/site that is not bulletproof, why this is so, and then proceeds to slice and dice: carving and sculpting like Edward Scissorhands on a fat Thanksgiving Day turkey, Cederholm reintroduces it, serving up a nice platter o' standards-based, lean and mean XHTML and CSS code. As if that wasn't enough, now he's even got some wine to help wash it all down.
I knew nothing of Web standards - nor the inroads and advantages of CSS and XHTML - before embarking upon the updated PodShop.com adventure. This book is like having a master there to help you every step of the way, from the beginning chapter talking about flexible text, straight through to the end where everything is put together in a sample site trafficking pretzels.
This book is a must have.
Advanced Web Standards Solutions
Authors: Andy Budd, Cameron Moll, Simon Collison
I discovered this gem on Cameron Moll's Web site, and it was ordered within minutes (a pre-order, none the less).
The wait for CSS Mastery to arrive was crushing. I was so ready for this book, yet it wasn't even released. The previews and sample chapters flaunted on the book's site had my credit card dancing before I even knew what was happening.
A week or so later, the agony intensified after reading Andy's site, and then Simon's site; the books were starting to trickle in to their purchasers, and mine had yet to fall into thine grubby mitts. In due course, patience paid off and the package from Bookpool was tore open, revealing the treasure I had waited so long for. It was absolutely worth waiting for.
Just as brilliant as Bulletproof Web Design, CSS Mastery proved to be more than worth the price of admission, as the schooling from this text added to the roots of Web standards lore previously soaked up.
CSS Mastery goes into great detail on a range of topics, including how to build forms and how to work around browser bugs, the latter a true source of frustration for any Web developer - especially those new to the game of Internet Explorer's Web-standards deficiencies.
Another must have.
Stylin' with CSS
A Designer's Guide
Author: Charles Wyke-Smith
Charles Wyke-Smith's work has also proven to be a great addition to the growing CSS and Web-standards library.
Stylin' with CSS was a constant reference point during work on the updated PodShop site, especially the book's appendix, which contains a listing of all CSS properties and values.
The Zen of CSS Design
Visual Enlightenment for the Web
Authors: Dave Shea, Molly E. Holzschlag
Ahh yes. The Zen Garden. This is the site that really opened my eyes to the power and versatility of CSS.
What a great concept to showcase these powers: The same information and material (HTML), yet presented (CSS) through the eyes, minds, and souls of numerous different Web designers.
I became aware of the Zen Garden site first, then realized there was a book that presented and showcased the different strategies and ideas the designers had implemented.
The book is a great read and reference, and also an invaluable source of inspiration when it's time to get your CSS on.
Don't Make Me Think
A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Author: Steve Krug
Published: 2006 (Second Edition)
This is a must read for any Web site developer, and here's why:
Krug lays everything out here that should be obvious, but often falls to the wayside once the meat and potatoes work of building and designing any Web site takes place.
All Web developers start off with good intentions, but as things get added and subtracted from a site's design, and the overall direction of the site begins to spring to life, the simple things that make a site usable often fall victim, or get pushed aside, often unintentionally.
This book is a great starting point for any site development work, whether a site just started or part of a redesign or realign.
The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc.
Author: Owen Linzmayer
Published: 1999 (First Edition)
I haven't sprang for the second edition of this book, but the first edition was phenomenal.
A tale of two Steves and the company they founded this is, and it's a great narrative and timeline of all things Apple Computer, Inc.
One of the best Steve Jobs quotes ever:
"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?"
The Missing Editor for Mac OS X
Author: Allan Odgaard
Function: Text Editing, Coding and Markup.
I did a lot of looking digging before finally settling in on this superb piece of editing software.
Yes, you can use just about anything to code Web pages and style sheets (TextEdit, TextWrangler, BBEdit, etc.), but TextMate makes things simple and even fun to do these tasks.
There is a lot of power under the hood of TextMate - and I definitely have not tapped into all of its benefits - but even for an amateur like me, this program makes things really easy to do, and can be automated to the hilt.
The use of different themes is especially nice, and there are a lot of users always implementing new themes and plugins to make this application even better.
TextMate is the work of Allan Odgarrd, who from what I have gathered is TextMate. He's the brains, muscle, heart and soul of this program, and I was more than willing to pay the licensing fee to support a fellow small business owner. This program is updated very frequently, as Allan implements a lot of suggestions from the program's loyal users.
It sounds like Allan's work is paying off, as I have been reading about more and more people trying or switching to TextMate. Yeah!
P.S. A much more proper, thorough review of TextMate by users who push the app much harder than I do can be found here.
Mac OS X FTP to the Next Level. Again.
Function: File Transfer Protocol.
Like a great text editor, a just as proficient FTP program to get your luscious, freshly coded files onto your web server is an indispensable tool for all Web jockeys.
And as in the realm of text editing applications, there are also a plethora of programs out there waiting to deliver your hotly-coded pages to their destination. I've loaded a few FTP apps in my day, but for me, Panic's Transmit is the program to use to get bits flowed across Internet wires.
Panic's latest Transmit release has some really nice integration with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, including Automator, Dashboard, and Spotlight interminglings. There's even tabs for multiple server connections. Nice!
Apple Hardware Icons
Apple iPod Full Set.
Author: Iiro Jäppinen
Function: Iconography and Web Design.
In search of some nice graphical representation for iPod on the site, and not wanting to draw up my own, I found the work of Iiro Jäppinen.
Iiro's Apple hardware icons are fantastic - as is the rest of his work. I humbly emailed him in regards to using the iPod icons on the site, and he obliged.
Thanks, Iiro! Keep up the great work.
Webdesign - XHTML CSS | Graphic Design.
Author: Veerle Pieters
Function: Creative and Web Design.
Wow! If you want to see how they do it in the professional ranks of graphic and Web design, look no further. This is the pinnacle. I don't think that anything can top this.
When I stumbled across Veerle's blog, I couldn't believe my eyes. This experience (yeah, this is not just a blog, this is an experience) had me near tears for two reasons:
- This is the most creative, fun, and cool looking site that I have been lucky enough to mouse upon.
- I was about halfway through the PodShop website refresh, and I thought the new site was looking pretty good. Uh...no. I have a long way to go.
The typography, the colors, and the ticket system for comments! Brilliant!
Amazing work, Veerle. You've set the bar pretty high for the rest of us.
Print + New Media.
Author: Jon Hicks
Function: Creative and Web Design.
Hicksdesign was a site I uncovered some time back - in early 2005 I believe - which is about 20 years in Web time.
I had just made OmniWeb my default, full-time browser, and was Googling for any tweaks or add ons for it.
Jon Hicks' site came up with a lot of great information re: all things OmniWeb. He's a big OW enthusiast, and offers many tips, tricks, and even themes for this browser.
Once I had Jon's customized theme loaded, I relaunched OW and spent many hours going through many different posts on the Hicksdesign site. I knew nothing about Web design - and still don't - but this site was added to my "Apple" workspace in OW that day, and I have been an avid reader since.
In fact, this site was the early motivation for really digging into and exploring the power of CSS, XHTML, and standard-based Web design. It would just take me a lot more reading and understanding until I was ready to even think about taking on such a change for my own site.
Thanks Jon...and oh yeah...I like your new site design just as well as the leaf-flavoured one.