Sites a Web Designer Should Know (or ‘I wish I had thought of this first’) Part 2

They say patience is a virtue and absence makes the heart grow fonder, but you just want your links, right? So here goes:


  • Intensivstation – XHTML and CSS 2 templates that start you off in pretty much any basic design you would want to use.
  • Mollio – another set of basic templates that you can download and play around with. A good learning tool if you’re new to CSS and XHTML.
  • Layout Gala – the best of the three, especially if you have a grasp of CSS. Takes the same markup and applies different CSS similar to the CSS Zen Garden. Excellent for setting up how you want content and links to appear for SEO purposes.


  • CSS Beauty – excellent design of the site itself, lists of CSS sites, CSS jobs and news as well.
  • Stylegala – similar to CSS beauty.
  • CSS Vault
  • CSS Tux – labeled as the “best dressed” sites on the web, some nice designs – including the site itself
  • W3C Sites – sites that conform to the W3C standards – beauty and standards compliance hand in hand.


  • Ten CSS Tricks You May Not Know – some cool stuff that I hadn’t heard of at the time for simply didn’t use enough.
  • CSS Navigation Techniques – besides allowing users to navigate your site and improving your SEO, navigation can be a strong aesthetic part of your site.
  • Max Design – list of resources, including Listamatic.
  • Learn CSS Positioning in Ten Steps – everything you need to know about positioning
  • Position is Everything – for when everything you know about positioning doesn’t work. Hopefully, IE7 will make this site obsolete.
  • CSS Tools – another list of CSS tools, much longer then mine. Some redundancy but some really cool stuff I didn’t list.
  • css/edge – Eric Meyer doing CSS. Do I need to say more?
  • Stu Nicholls | CSS Play – I have mentioned I have a love/hate relationship with this site. It has dozens of cool ideas that I borrow (steal) and that cause me to expand my understanding and abilities with CSS. I hate it though because everytime I think I’ve come up with a new idea in CSS… I find he’s already thought of it and 3 offshoots. Highly recommended

I hope you found something you didn’t know before and something that inspires you to make the web a more beautiful, CSS enabled, standards compliant and semantically correct place. Comments, constructive criticisms and flames welcome. Spam can be directed here.

Random Tidbit: WordPress does not like Opera at all. Something in the Ajax or Javascript just hates it. I’ve tried identifying and masking as Firefox and even Explorer, still no go. Someone should work on that since it’s rather annoying. I like Firefox and it’s not that hard to switch over I guess, but I would think that it wouldn’t be that hard to get it to work in Opera compared to say Explorer. But it could be I’m just not that smart.

Sites a Web Designer Should Know (or ‘I wish I had thought of this first’)

Awhile back I did a post on my personal top ten sites. It was dugg and relabeled as sites a web developer should know. This was not my intention since there were many sites on it that have nothing to do with web design, CSS or SEO. But it was one of my most popular posts – probably not for my superb writing skills, more likely interest from the digg post.

I am still relatively new at web design but I thought I would share some of the sites I use regularly in the hopes that experienced designers might find something new and new designers might start out correctly – that is, building CSS based, SEO friendly and standard compliant sites. Since there is a relatively large number of things I want to list, this will probably be broken up over several posts.


  • See how your site looks to search engines – input your site, choose your paramaters and it will show you what order your content shows up in, your keywords and keyword density, as well as headers, title, meta tags and other SEO elements of your page. A good way to make sure your page is being read the way you want it to.
  • Getting your site indexed before you launch – this article brings up a good point. Many sites talk about how to improve your SEO after the fact, but as many designers know – by doing things right from the beginning, it’ll make your life and job a lot easier. This offers several simple ideas to be indexed before you’re even done.
  • Basics of SEO – 456 Berea St. offers an excellent list of things to do – keep your title (the most important SEO element) in mind and utilize it correclty, use real headings, write good content (and keep it fresh), use good (semantic and lean) markup, and keep in mind there are no shortcuts. It includes more information and ideas then I mention here – I highely recommend it even if you know a lot about SEO, you might learn something new.
  • Beginner’s Guide to SEOSEOmoz is an entire site dedicated to SEO and this beginner’s guide is actually pretty comprehensive.


  • W3Schools – a free online school of the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other web languages. Very basic, but a good resource.
  • Complete Guide to Web Design – An excellent, complete guide to building web pages. Easy to read and well written. Highetly recommended.

Web Standards

  • W3c Validator – the official validator. You can’t have standard compliant code unless it’s valid (ad servers, CMS, etc. aside).
  • 9 Ways to Misunderstand Web Standards – Some common misunderstandings that still go on today.
  • Why Tables for Layouts is Stupid – An online slide show from Seybold 2003. Simple and easy to understand. A great list of resources near the end. Included because it’s amazing to me how many table based layouts there still are out there – including many of those free template sites or page builders you find. Tables have their uses – but bloating markup and killing SEO is not one of them.
  • Designing with Web Standards – another great 456 Berea St. article. A comprehensive guide to designing standard compliant sites. A little hard to understand for beginners, but a source I highely recommend.

That’s it for today. Next time: CSS, Inspiration and Template sites and color/graphics sites (most likely – subject to change). A great, and much more extensive, resource list can be found at the web developer’s handbook – some of the sites listed here are on there and I have mentioned this site before. My only complaint would be that no descriptions are provided. However, on a list that large, descriptions would make it almost unreadable.

Random Tidbit: Sticking with the list theme – here are three great links:


Because of the craziness of moving back home – including packing, cleaning, etc. – my blog has been, and will probably continue to be, dormant until next week.  I should be in MA early in the week and have several posts planned for that time.  Until then, those few of you that read my blog regularly, apologies.  You can still view my to see what has caught my current interest.  The changes to IE have got me excited – I think IE 7 will actually be something worthwhile based upon recent information.  With that in mind, two interesting IE links:

IE Blog – you can link to the main blog from here, but this post talks about the fixes coming.  Now, hopefully they will make IE 7 a mandatory update so that it won’t take 2-3 years for people to adopt it.

Why IE sucks – a rather humorous blog about one developer’s frustration with the current generation of IE.  Some of the challenges he faces I’m sure we all have.  Hopefully, IE 7 will shut this blog down – in a good way.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for your support.

A collection of random tidbits

I usually try to include one or two tidbits at the end of my postings that I’ve found during my travels.  Today I found enough for practically a month of posting so I figured I’d burn some.  Hopefully, it won’t come back to bite me later.

vi search – So what’s so good about a plain, text based, command line operated search engine?  Well, nostalgia aside, it does have some nice features like being able to move quickly through the listings using the keyboard, the ability to add comments to listings and finally to delete listings from your search and save the results.  Overall, very useful it seems. – A website served up by a computer almost as old as me.  If that wasn’t cool enough it seems – according to the author at least, I was 3 when these came out and had never heard of them until seeing the site – this system was pretty forwards compatible allowing you to upgrade and maintain, relatively, with the times.  Makes you wonder what those 5 year old towers in your basement are capable of huh?

3spots –  A site dedicated to Digg tools.  Digg, besides being the very essence of Web 2.0, is a very useful site to not only share cool sites you stumble across but also to market your own neat tidbits.  It’s a fine art to not appear slanted and I hope to get the hang of it enough someday to not only offer sites I find but also to get some exposure for my web ventures.

Online Alarm Clock – Not even sure how useful this is, especially if you lose connection frequently, but I thought it was a cool idea.  Maybe if you’re on the road with one of those hotels that have free WiFi?

Party Animal? Don’t blame your genes – An interesting article about genes and how they affect who you’re going to become.  One of the more interesting facts is that they account for 51% of your height and body shape but only account for 19% of your personality traits.  It also says that siblings average 50% similarity while cousins only about 12.5%.  Not sold on that one, although I could be the one pulling down the curve.

Random Tidbit: None, didn’t you read the title of the post?  Come on now.

Stylish – the best Mozilla Extension

So I know I’ve been harping on Opera a lot lately, but I figured I would devote some time to what has recently and quickly become my favorite Mozilla extension – Stylish. Now I make regular use of – and highly recommend – both the web developer’s toolbar and the IE tab extensions. If you don’t already have those and you do any sort of web designing at all – get them. The IE tab lets you open an Explorer tab in Mozilla for testing – so less windows open in your system – and the web developer’s toolbar has all kinds of neat tools, only some of which I’ve mastered, including outlining elements, giving image information and a built in ruler.

Going back to Stylish though, it is an extension that allows you to create page specific style sheets for sites you visit a lot. Why would you want to do something like that? Well, for one, you can find styles that remove the ads from Digg – allowing you to browse ad free. Another allows you to modify – which, though one of my favorite sites, is kind of plain. I have posted my stylesheet – feel free to steal, modify, claim credit, etc.  You will have to open it and save it as a .css to use it in Stylish since WordPress does not allow uploading of that file type.  Mine is just a modified version I found on a site dedicated to user styles. There are some nice MySpace and Slashdot ones I have yet to try. I’d like to find/make a decent one for

Random Tidbit: Going back to Opera for a moment I found a Wiki that talks about a built in feature similar to Stylish. I have tried and failed to make it work but I think that’s more user error then anything. The page also mentions userstyles and another page where you can get page styles – just remember to remove the Mozilla encoding from the posts on userstyles.