This is a small list of invaluable websites I use to further my knowledge of everything web and to help out with inspiration, tools, resources and tutorials. It’s a list not aimed at any one facet of web design and development, but the many facets and processes that make a website possible.
It is becoming more and more important to at least have a basic understanding of all the information that goes into making a fantastic website. Knowing limitations and pushing those limits makes web design and development fun, interesting, and challenging. If you work in this field you probably already know that web work is all about constantly learning new technologies, tools, tips and tricks.
If you don’t know about this one then you have been missing out. While there is some fluff from time to time, you learn a lot from this site. There are a lot of top website and tools lists which can get tedious, but Smashing Magazine really does have the pulse of the web and this is the spot to be if you want to keep up to date on web trends. Some of their most popular posts are actually their trend posts. Critics will say that Smashing causes everyone to create the same type of designs, but I think it’s good to know what is working out there and what is not.
Noupe is part of the Smashing network. It has a huge amount inspirational lists and resources. When you need a break from work or if you are feeling creatively drained it can be a great quick stop for a creative inspirational recharge.
Grafpedia is the holy grail of Photoshop web design tutorials. The site sells their templates, but the real guts of the site is the full on tutorials. You can create all of their PSD templates by following their extremely detailed tutorials. Most of us won’t want to do that of course, but browsing the designs until you see something that makes you say “how did they do that” and then getting a detailed play by play tutorial on just that question is pretty cool. A fantastic resource for Photoshop web design techniques. Also a great place to start if you are completely new to creating Photoshop mockups.
If you are a blogger, you should be reading this guys stuff. I started reading ProBlogger about two years ago. Some of the subject matter may be obvious for the more advanced bloggers, but you’ll probably gain new insights regardless of your skill level. Once you digest a lot of Darren’s site it does start to feel a bit regurgitated, but a quick visit every now and then always reveals something new for me. He also does a lot of his own tests and research on analytics and SEO. Problogger is also very professional and way less spamy than a lot of the get rich quick blogging tip sites out there.
Ajaxian is for the more technically minded web designers and developers out there. As the name suggests they follow a lot of Ajax techniques, but the site has much more to offer than news about Ajax. If you want to know where the future of Web Apps are headed, this is a good starting point. Even if you are not a programmer, there’s a lot of cool bleeding edge stuff to see on this site.
The best way to really test your websites is with the actual browser, usually via a virtual machine. Not everyone has time to install a load of browsers under virtual machines and if you don’t need to test the functionality then Adobe BrowserLab is the answer to your testing needs. The layout is slick and easy to use. You can select all the browser you want to test with and save them. The site then quickly renders image screenshots of all the browsers you selected. The next time you need to test out good old IE6 or some other hard to find browser version, give it a try.
Focus: Cross-browser testing
“A wall of design ideas, web trends, and tutorials.” This is another personal blog with a broad range of web design content. Tutorials, news, funky design techniques and everything in between. There’s a lot of content here and this guy posts often.
This site has been around for a few years, but it only recently hit my radar. The focus is on web design with an emphasis on blogs. It’s got some fantastic tutorials and a lot of discussion.
I recently discovered this gem of a site and it’s quickly becoming a favourite. WebKitBits is all about really cool projects done using the power of the Webkit rendering engine. Webkit is the browser engine built into Safari, Chrome, iPhone, Palm Pre, and Android, and it’s pretty awesome. This engine blows away Internet Explorer and even gives Gecko a run for it’s money. The stuff here is bleeding edge and some of it possibly years away before we see it in mainstream websites, but it will reignite you passion for everything web and you will be ready for the next wave of awesome.
While not exactly a web design focused site this is still a must see for web designers. It’s a Photoshop brush site with loads of free brushes. There’s always that one brush that you can plop into a web page and just add that little bit of extra wow. The quality of most of the brushes is stunning.
Web Design Ledger or WDL for short is a web design knowledge and resources site. It’s another one of those fully loaded blogs that you can absorb information and inspiration from for hours. If you need a break from Smashing Magazine, check out Web Design Ledger.
Colour is so important, and COLOURlovers have got it covered. It’s basically a social media colour palette sharing site. Users share their colours, palettes, patterns and trends with the COLOURlovers community. The site is a great first step in the early design phase. They also oddly spell Colour correctly and incorrectly throughout the site.
This is another one of those massive resource sites out there that offers free content and premium content. Nettuts + is only part of their huge tutorial network. If you need information on a topic or just want to get exposed to new techniques and ideas than this is the place to go.
This list would not be complete without A List Apart. I my opinion this site is the de facto authority on best web practices and techniques. Many of the well known techniques used today originated on A List Apart. Although they don’t post near as much as some of the other sites listed here, the content is almost always top notch. The topics cover code, content, culture, design, process and user science. A lot of well known industry leaders and thinkers have written for A List Apart.
Did I miss something?
If you think there is some awesome super duper resource that is missing from this list including your own site, please don’t hesitate to post it below in the comments.