Can you learn to beautify websites?
August 2, 2013 7:45 AM   Subscribe

I have been through a few HTML and CSS online courses and am able to build basic websites, but how do I learn to decide what I want them to look like? I am currently learning JavaScript online and from books but are there any online tutorials that can help me become more confident from a design point of view?

My background is in music and I have also done a lot of editorial work for music publishing companies, so I am fine as far as content goes. I am also able to confidently choose once I have been given some options, but how do I learn what will look good on my own. Do I need to do a graphic design course?
posted by joboe to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
This book by Mark Boulton is design focussed yet all about web design.
posted by wolfr at 7:52 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

The old saw "Less is more" is the best advice anyone wanting to understand attractive and effective design can learn. Fewer bells-and-whistles, and more emphasis on the actual message.

What websites do you consider attractive or well-designed? Perhaps you can learn to understand what makes them work in your eyes?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:58 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

The 960 Grid system helped me lay out my sites for different browsers/devices. It's a little daunting at first, but you pretty much just put the grid under your prototype before you start designing.
posted by Biblio at 9:16 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

24 ways has a lot of stuff to mine.
posted by adamrice at 9:36 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: @Biblio - I've been playing around with Bootstrap and LayoutIt quite a lot and 960 was mentioned by someone in passing, but I still feel like it only gets me as far as a 'not-ugly' website at the moment.

Once it's laid out and I have the functionality, how do a train my brain to work out what will make it look awesome? I've always been able to rely on designers in the past, but now I'm having to diversify my freelancer skills so feel like I should at least have an idea of what I want, even if I can't do it all on my own immediately.
posted by joboe at 9:42 AM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: I have this problem too, and here's what I'm using at the moment: Hope this helps!
posted by fix at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]

Learnable has a bunch of stuff on design, including a book called The Principles of Beautiful Web Design that I found worth skimming. It is specifically aimed at developers wanting a quick and practical grounding in design.

Btw, while the book is listed at $29, if you sign up for their newsletter, which is probably needed anyway to be allowed to download the sample chapters, you'll get all kinds of offers from them that bring the prices right down.

I'm only giving them a try because of a $9 deal that included 2 book downloads plus a month of access to everything they have online.
posted by philipy at 11:37 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hack Design is a nice little semi-interactive web course on design for programmers. Free, and you can get a lesson in your inbox each week if you like.
posted by duien at 12:11 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

CodeSchool just started the free Fundamentals of Design course (haven't taken it yet but their other classes are of good quality).
posted by humph at 1:57 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've found The Non-Designers Design Book to be very useful.
posted by jeri at 12:04 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

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