Happy New Year!! OK, so maybe I am a few days late. However, as some of you will instantly notice, I have been working hard to get this new site up and running as quickly as possible. I had a few hiccups along the way. Plus, the holidays happened. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday season. I ventured down to El Paso, TX, where I am originally from, to visit family.
Since I am sure I am not alone when it comes to teaching yourself web design, I figured I would share some of what I went through and the sites, tools and resources I used.
What took me the longest to design this site was remembering the little bit of HTML I learned while in graduate school, and completely diving head first to figure out how to manipulate CSS. In essence, I chose a template, Primepress, that included an easy way to manipulate CSS. I then began to dig and experiment to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
I started by figuring out what I wanted as a banner. This was very useful because then I had an understanding of what color scheme might work. I love challenges, and what made things a bit more complicated is Primepress includes a rotating banner. For the moment, I have put together two banners that include some quotes about music that I really love. I hope to add a few more banners along the way.
One of the reasons I chose Pimepress is that it includes a built CSS customization feature with out messing up the original. So, I was able to play around without worrying about messing up the original. A perfect feature for a newbie like me. I am still working to adjust some things here and there, but for the most part what you see is what you get. At least for a while.
Fun New Things
A couple of new features I have added include the ability to subscribe via email as well as RSS. I have also added the SezWho commenting system to help build a community – at least that is the pitch. Anyone can claim their profile, and track all of their comments. If you venture on other blogs, and they use SezWho, you can use the same account. Readers can also rank posts and comments.
As time goes on, I am sure I will add other plugins to enhance the site. If you have recommendations or suggestions, please let me know. I also hope to add an email form shortly.
The Tools I used
For anyone interested in web design, “HTML, XHTML, and CSS All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies” was a tremendous help for a number of reasons. For starters, it comes with a disk full of recommended programs to help you get started. Like other “Dummies” books, the explanations and tutorials are easy. The price is just right, and it is pretty thorough including explanation about AJAX and PHP as well. Two programs I found very helpful include GIMP and Aptana.
GIMP is a image editing program, similar to Adobe Photoshop, except that it is an OpenSource program. It is well supported, and you can’t argue with free. Granted, Photoshop comes with more features, but GIMP comes in pretty decent second.
Aptana is a program for all your coding needs. It comes with a lot of features, more than I needed, but what I found helpful is code is color coded. Aptana also pops up recommendations, and automatically enters closing tags. It takes some getting used to, but if you planning on learning AJAX and PHP, Aptana supports these features as well. My next goal is to create a theme from scratch, but that won’t happen for a while.
To figure out color schemes, I used Adobe’s Kuler. I found Kuler really helpful because I was able to save color schemes, and use images to create schemes from scratch. For additional color support, I also used http://www.colorsontheweb.com/.
To find images, I used a combination of search engines, but Every Stock Photo was really handy.
Last But Not Least…
As of today, I am officially moving here. So, if you subscribe to my RSS, please update your feed. After a week or so, I will no longer maintain the WordPress.com edition. It was nice while it lasted, but now it is time to officially move on.
I still have some changes to make and add, but work returns in full force tomorrow. I thought it best to make the transition and tweak along the way.
Cheers! And, welcome to the new Contrapuntist.