The past month or so I've been gearing up for a major online makeover to coincide with the release of my book, and a new version of MasterList Professional, and the start of a new micro-ISV site.
So, off to the Web I went to learn the new tricks web page design.
My poor weary head! It's bad enough trying to keep track of all the changes going on in Windows programming, now I've got to load my aching head with divs, and floats and absolutes and ems and more, and then all sorts of hacks and kludges to workaround all the weird bugs in all the various versions of IE, Netscape, and yes, even FireFox.
The problem with trying to learn a new technical topic via the Web is that you get dumped into this bubbling pot of everything anyone ever said about that subject. There's no continuity, no progression: there's lumps of what look like good info that have gone bad as time and the Web move on.
What I should have done, and didn't, was go over to squidoo.com and use that as my starting point: I just visited http://www.squidoo.com/cssdesign/ and saw 80% of the info I finally figured out I should know about after a good 8 hours of surfing. On. One. Page. Even though I've raved here and elsewhere about squidoo.com's value in exactly this situation, this old dog had forgotten that new trick. Groan.
Fortuantely, in my pecking and poking around the Web I did finally find A List Apart, Douglas Bowman's Stopdesign, and then Dan Cederholm's SimpleBits, and there's is a ton of great design professionals out there making this stuff interesting.
And I did get lucky by buying Dan Cederholm's Bulletproof Web Design. This is one of the best technical books I've read in years. In a light readable way, Dan goes through exactly how to solve with CSS the common things that make building a web site such a pain: What size should text be, how to make great menus, getting the elements of the page to appear where you want them to, organizing the page and more.
The moral of this story? (Besides buy Dan's book; it's a gem.) The next time your the old dog needing to learn a new trick, see what you can learn via squidoo.com first.
(Technorati tags: Micro-ISV)