HTML / CSS Reminders for amateur web designers / developers

This article is just a friendly reminder for beginning web designers writing html and css, to get their standards right, and the tips from the get go, to learn a behavior to take and keep control over the code they write.
If you design a site you will run into the most annoying issue of them all: Browser compatibility. And that’s the one I start with: Check your design in various browsers, on various platforms. And be clear to the person you’re working for which top5 browsers you guarantee to support, and which top5 you will not. A do could be firefox 3.5 and above, with legacy support for 3.0, but a don’t could be any firefox below 3.0. If you understand which browsers can do what (or not), you can spend less time fixing what you code.

But it’s important to check what you’re working on, frequently! on linux/windows/mac and with various versions – and various screen resolutions. Don’t wait until the end of your task, do it while you’re working on it, and I strongly recommend to not move forward to the next task until you’ve resolved the matter at hand. Nobody likes sloppy code. Because it’s harder to go and rewrite / fix everything afterwards, than addressing it from the get go.

Talking about poorly written code, I think the second point I want to make is to take what you do very seriously. No need to nitpick, but if you should properly comment your code, order it, list it proper, and if you feel a class needs a name change, do it. Address it while you’re working on it, rather than having to schedule in time in the future to go back and having to figure the clutter out. And with sloppy code, it gets cluttered quite quickly.

Considering and respecting, but also deciding on (your) code standards is not a luxury, I would like to think it’s almost mandatory. Remember, maybe you start small. But future releases, versions and including other developers .. it’s not impossible .. and then it takes more time and headaches to figure it all out again (for everybody involved). Write your code in a comfortable to read and tidy manner, don’t be lazy. It’s easier to re-use and come back to, and for others to use, and saves time in the long run.

Besides not being lazy-, or not being willing to crosscheck your work, while you code, you should also not be old fashioned. We live in a world where the technology changes. New frameworks, tricks, fixes & solutions, and proof of concepts and great hints and tips, show up constantly. Don’t focus on what you know, but learn to think outside of the box, by educating yourself. Subscribe to sites, rss feeds, and follow well known developers in various fields.

There are great resources out there with articles, blogs, forums, feeds, friends with tips, etc. that help sort out what’s hot, what’s going to happen in the near future, and filled with inspiration. And I strongly believe if you spend a handful of minutes in a day to pick out that one item that’s interesting, and you learn something. You will learn new things that help you stay on the edge, while your competition is struggling being innovating.

And here’s a pro tip: Bookmark everything. Because you will run into those situations where six months down the road you sorta remember it was a blog post on that guys forum, but how do you type his name again?

While you’re expanding your horizon and finding new trends and hypes and a sneak peak into the near future, you will obviously need examples, practice and support. And that is my next thought. Don’t be shy, ask! Part of learning means trying things out and exploring what’s new. In order to understand it, but when you hit a wall, ask a friend, sign up on a forum, and don’t be shy and just ask. There are great blogs and forums out there that is filed with people you should consider colleagues (and not competition) and would love to help you answer your questions.

Isn’t it true that we all believe in visible source code and open projects, and working together to help improve the usability and interfaces of web sites we all use? I am sure in the future when you know the answers to those questions you will take some of your free time to help others. Heck, I am writing this article so you learn something too.