Webpage Design


Course code : DESI1183
Course co-ordinator : David Watson
Course weighting : 40 credits

This course is all about the design and implementation of web pages and small websites. It covers the fundamentals of Web Design and is concerned with the client-side technologies that form the “three layer web”; the structural layer, the presentation layer and the behavioural layer – HTML, CSS and JavaScript respectively. Although it begins by considering the mainstream versions of those technologies, XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.1, it goes on to cover trending technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery. It also aims to develop an understanding of webpage aesthetics and looks at the use of colour, images, typography and general graphic design principles, although these are covered in more detail during the Applied Art for the Web course. It also covers the web design process, from client brief through to deployment and promotion. As such, it can be considered a general introduction to web design which is why this is the first course taught on the Web Design & Content Planning programme.

Programme LogoWith a group of students from diverse backgrounds, a programme such as Web Design & Content Planning requires some common currency among those taking part. This course acts as a foundation for further study and discussion. As such, we will cover some basic aspects of web design. This is not to undervalue what you already may know but to ensure that everyone has the same basic understanding of the issues.

This course is about the technical and aesthetic aspects of web design in equal measure. The course is not about learning how to use any particular piece of software. It is about gaining a fundamental understanding of how the web works and how to create webpages to a high standard.

Aims and Outcomes

  • To understand what the web is and how webpages are composed.
  • To learn how to approach the design of simple websites.
  • To develop the skills needed to implement the design.
  • To understand how to conform to web standards and how to test webpages.
  • To learn how to be self-critical and how to assess the work of others.


The course runs during Term 1 and consists of four main elements - workshops, online dialogue, coursework and projects.


The workshops will focus on “webpage design” in the widest sense of the words. We will cover both technical and aesthetic aspects during the workshops and lively dialogue is encouraged. The various topics are given on the timetable although this is only meant to be indicative and may change to suit specific requirements. Detailed tutorials etc. may be given at the workshop sessions or made available on-line. It must be stressed that complete coverage of the topics under consideration cannot be dealt with during the workshops and you will need to allocate time to follow up each workshop with further study.

Online Dialogue

Online teaching and support is available from a number of resources. Firstly, you may contact the course tutor by email. However, for general comment and discussion, students should engage with the course tutor, other tutors and other students on the programme at the online forum. This is a public forum, specifically set up for this programme but it also has a number of private areas where course and programme specific topics can be discussed. It is well used and a popular method of communication among the other students. Your questions will be answered either by the course tutor or by other members of the forum. Use of the forum is an integral part of the learning process and you are expected to become active members. We see the forum as being a way of documenting current trends and news and a place for discussion. The forum already contains a large amount of information and is a valuable resource tool as well as an excellent “forum” for debate.

Online activity also includes blogging and commenting on other students' blog posts. You will be provided with a personal blog for the submission of written work but you may also use the blog to publish any relevant material.


Each week you will be given one or more tasks and some recommended reading to be completed for the following week when feedback will be given. Some tasks will build on work completed the previous week so it's important not to fall behind. Coursework will be assessed at the end of the course. You will be provided with a web hosting account with FTP access so that you can put your coursework online. This enables tutors and students to look at coursework outside of normal teaching times and allows you the flexibility to work whenever convenient. Take a look at Kate's page, which will give you some idea how yours might turn out.


In addition to the weekly coursework, there are 2 projects that must be completed by the dates given in the course schedule and made available online using the web space provided. In general, project briefs are issued after relevant topics have been covered in the workshops to ensure that all students are able to complete the work. A studio crit is held the week before submission so that help, advice and feedback can be given before project work is submitted. It is particularly important to meet deadlines for project work as they constitute 50% of the assessment for this course.

Student Websites

You must keep an online directory of all the work you produce for this course and all other courses on this programme. We recommend you use your hosted web space to create a directory of your work with links to the various elements. Advice will be given on how best to do this. You can see a list of all our current students and links to their work on the Current students page.


The course schedule gives an overview of the timetable, weekly topics and submission dates for this course. There may be occasional changes, so check back frequently.

Full-time & part-time, first year students

2014-15 Session
25th Sep 2014 (am)1015What is web design?
25th Sep 2014 (pm)1014Process, context and personalities
2nd Oct 2014Crit PitWeb Thesis Project final presentations
9th Oct 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014The structural layer
16th Oct 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014The presentation layer
23rd Oct 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014Images and colour with CSS
30th Oct 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014CSS Typography
6th Nov 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014Structural elements and page layout *
13th Nov 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014More CSS goodness with CSS3 **
20th Nov 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014HTML5 are we there yet?
27th Nov 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014Responsive Web Design **
4th Dec 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014Introduction to JavaScript ***
11th Dec 2014 (am/pm)1015/1014jQuery for designers
18th Dec 2014 Self Study
Winter Vacation (2 weeks)
8th Jan 2015 Self Study
15th Jan 2015 (am/pm)1015/1014PHP for site modularity ††
22nd Jan 2015 (am/pm)1015/1014PHP and MySQL for dynamic content †††

All face-to-face sessions are 3 hours long and take place on Thursday mornings (am), beginning at 10.00am in room 1015 or afternoons (pm), beginning at 2.00pm in room 1014 unless otherwise indicated.

See the programme teaching schedule for an overview of all courses.

* Small Business Website project brief issued
** Small Business Website project interim crits
*** Small Business Website project submission and crit
Website Makeover project brief issued
†† Website Makeover project interim crit
††† Website Makeover project submission and crit

Course Documents

These documents contain all the information about the course, projects, weekly coursework and references. All documents are provided in PDF format. Some documents are also provided in appropriate alternative formats. In order to view the PDF files, you will need the Adobe Reader.

There are currently 28 files in this section

File Listing
  Filename Size (KB) Date Modified
Class 01 - Coursework.pdf 89.5 27th Aug 2019
Class 01 - What is Web Design.pdf 8,203.3 27th Aug 2019
Class 02 - Coursework.pdf 80.6 27th Aug 2019
Class 02a - The Web Design Process.pdf 2,560.6 27th Aug 2019
Class 02b - Domain Names and Web Hosting.pdf 927.0 27th Aug 2019
Class 03 - Coursework.pdf 88.4 27th Aug 2019
Class 03 - The Structural Layer.pdf 938.3 27th Aug 2019
Class 04 - Coursework.pdf 109.4 27th Aug 2019
Class 04 - The Presentation Layer.pdf 827.8 27th Aug 2019
Class 05 - Coursework.pdf 91.4 27th Aug 2019
Class 05 - Images and Colour.pdf 1,778.8 27th Aug 2019
Class 06 - Coursework.pdf 88.7 27th Aug 2019
Class 06 - CSS Typography.pdf 2,242.7 27th Aug 2019
Class 07 - Coursework.pdf 88.0 27th Aug 2019
Class 07 - Page Layout.pdf 4,708.6 27th Aug 2019
Class 08 - Coursework.pdf 300.8 27th Aug 2019
Class 08a - More CSS goodness with CSS3.pdf 1,018.2 27th Aug 2019
Class 08b - Navigation with CSS.pdf 1,414.7 27th Aug 2019
Class 09 - Coursework.pdf 82.6 27th Aug 2019
Class 09 - HTML5 Are we there yet.pdf 635.9 27th Aug 2019
Class 10 - Coursework.pdf 84.5 27th Aug 2019
Class 10 - Responsive Web Design.pdf 1,742.3 27th Aug 2019
Class 11 - Coursework.pdf 102.0 27th Aug 2019
Class 11 - The Behavioural Layer.pdf 652.9 27th Aug 2019
Class 12 - Coursework.pdf 101.7 27th Aug 2019
Class 12 - jQuery for Designers.pdf 1,346.3 27th Aug 2019
Marking up text (exercise).pdf 122.4 27th Aug 2019
Marking up text (exercise).txt 4.3 27th Aug 2019

Reference Documents

These documents are useful references. They are mostly extracts and sample chapters from some of the books on the reading list. You will find references to some of these documents in the weekly reading recommendations.

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The Glass Wall.pdf 8,073.0 27th Aug 2019

Worked Examples

Documents in this section are designed to illustrate some of the ideas discussed during the workshops. New examples will be added as and when appropriate.

There are currently 13 files in this section

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class_6_font_embed.html 2.1 27th Aug 2019
class_6_typography.html 6.0 27th Aug 2019
class_7_border_trick.html 2.7 27th Aug 2019
class_7_page_design_styled.html 6.6 27th Aug 2019
class_7_page_design_styled_image.html 6.8 27th Aug 2019
class_7_page_design_unstyled.html 5.3 27th Aug 2019
class_7_page_layout.html 3.0 27th Aug 2019
nav_back_highlight.gif 0.7 27th Aug 2019
nav_back_normal.gif 0.7 27th Aug 2019
sprite.png 1.9 27th Aug 2019
week_3_index.html 0.4 27th Aug 2019
week_3_main.css 0.4 27th Aug 2019
week_4_sprite.html 1.1 27th Aug 2019

Working with list item floats

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centred-flush-h1.css 0.5 27th Aug 2019
centred.css 0.3 27th Aug 2019
change-order.css 0.5 27th Aug 2019
cow-parsley.jpg 22.5 27th Aug 2019
float-exercise.zip 248.3 27th Aug 2019
globe-artichoke.jpg 13.8 27th Aug 2019
hawthorn.jpg 13.7 27th Aug 2019
index.html 3.5 27th Aug 2019
left.css 0.3 27th Aug 2019
right.css 0.3 27th Aug 2019

CSS 3-column layout (faux columns)

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column-bottom.png 1.3 27th Aug 2019
column-middle.png 0.9 27th Aug 2019
column-top.png 1.3 27th Aug 2019
fixed-grid.html 3.6 27th Aug 2019
fluid-grid.html 3.6 27th Aug 2019
index.html 4.8 27th Aug 2019

CSS navigation

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centred.html 0.6 27th Aug 2019
nav-back-hover.png 1.0 27th Aug 2019
nav-back.png 1.0 27th Aug 2019
no-floats.html 1.1 27th Aug 2019
no-images.html 2.3 27th Aug 2019
single-image.html 1.0 27th Aug 2019
sprite.png 1.1 27th Aug 2019
two-images.html 1.0 27th Aug 2019


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earth.jpg 26.7 27th Aug 2019
example.html 3.5 27th Aug 2019
mars.jpg 17.8 27th Aug 2019
responsive.html 9.6 27th Aug 2019
wells.jpg 21.0 27th Aug 2019


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javascript_00_hello_world.html 1.5 27th Aug 2019
javascript_01_change_page_background.html 2.4 27th Aug 2019
javascript_02_change_colour.html 2.3 27th Aug 2019
javascript_03_change_multiple.html 2.8 27th Aug 2019
javascript_04_change_text.html 2.2 27th Aug 2019
javascript_05_hide.html 2.3 27th Aug 2019
javascript_06_new_window.html 1.8 27th Aug 2019
javascript_07_day_of_the_week.html 2.8 27th Aug 2019
javascript_08_today.html 2.3 27th Aug 2019
javascript_09_highlight_today.html 2.7 27th Aug 2019
window.html 0.7 27th Aug 2019


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jquery_00_hello_world.html 3.4 27th Aug 2019
jquery_01_id_selector.html 4.2 27th Aug 2019
jquery_02_class_selector.html 3.7 27th Aug 2019
jquery_03_toggle.html 2.8 27th Aug 2019
jquery_04_slidetoggle.html 3.3 27th Aug 2019
jquery_05_accordion.html 3.3 27th Aug 2019
jquery_06_table_stripes.html 4.2 27th Aug 2019
jquery_07_multiple_properties.html 4.4 27th Aug 2019
jquery_08_table_hover.html 4.4 27th Aug 2019
jquery_09_tabs.html 6.3 27th Aug 2019

Assessed Elements

This course includes 4 assessed elements; coursework, online activity and two projects. Details of these elements are given below. Each of the elements has a slightly different weighting and this is indicative of the degree of difficulty and/or the amount of work required. The weighting is as follows:

  • Coursework: 30%
  • Online activity: 10%
  • Small Business Website: 35%
  • Website Makeover: 25%

Project outlines and full briefs (.pdf) are given below.


3 Designed Objects

For each week of this course, you will get a coursework sheet (.pdf) with details of the tasks to be completed before the following week. In most weeks, you are asked to do some contextual reading, to write and publish a blog entry and to progress your 3 Designed Objects website. Additional details will be given during the taught sessions.

Online activity

Online activity is an important part of this programme and there is a 10% component of your assessment for actively engaging online through the programme forum, by commenting on other students blog entries and via Slack and on Twitter.

Project Details

Small Business Website

You will design and produce a basic website for a small business concern. This project will give you the opportunity to implement some of the techniques and design ideas you have developed during the first part of the course. This project will be used to help demonstrate some of the issues involved with the development of small websites including: the design process, colour and typography, site structure and navigation, standards compliant and semantic coding.

Website Makeover

Some websites are built from scratch, but increasingly, web designers have to learn how to redesign existing sites. For this project, you will take an existing website and redesign it using the same content. This will give you the opportunity to critically assess the current site and to make improvements where you think they are required. You should undertake an analysis of the inherent problems with the existing design and provide an explanation of how these have been resolved in your new design.

Project Briefs

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Project 1 - Small Business Website 2014-15.pdf 112.9 27th Aug 2019
Project 2 - Website Makeover 2014-15.pdf 98.7 27th Aug 2019

General resources

There are literally hundreds of good web design sites on the web but a few are outstanding with excellent content added on a regular basis. I recommend that you read both A LIST Apart and Smashing Magazine regularly.

Learning HTML and CSS

Class resources

Class 01 links ~ What is web design?

Class 02 links ~ Web design process, context and personalities

Choosing a Domain Name

Domain Detective Tools

Domain Name Registration

Web Hosting

Class 03 links ~ The structural layer - HTML

Video tutorials

Class 04 links ~ The presentation layer - CSS

Class 05 links ~ Images and colour with CSS

Interactive Colour Pickers

Images and CSS

Class 06 links ~ CSS Typography


Font Services

Class 07 links ~ Structural elements and page layout

CSS Positioning and Floats

Video tutorials

Grid-based page design

Lists for Navigation

CSS Image Rollovers

Information Architecture

Website Navigation

Tabbed Navigation Design

Class 08 links ~ Navigation and fun with CSS3

Video tutorials

Week 09 links ~ HTML5 - Are we there yet?

Week 10 links ~ Responsive Web Design

Class 11 links ~ The behavioural layer - introduction to JavaScript


The DOM (document object model)

Class 12 links ~ jQuery for designers

jQuery (a JavaScript framework/library)

Video tutorials

Creating a jQuery accordion menu/navigation


Key Texts

We are very fortunate that there are now many excellent books on the topic of web design and to some extent, selecting a list of “key texts” is a matter of personal preference. However, the books below have been chosen specifically to match the structure and content of this course and to appeal to students at an introductory level. Students who want to broaden and deepen their knowledge may want to progress to those texts listed in the Further Reading section.

The primary text for this course is Jennifer Robbins' Learning Web Design (4th Ed.) and this should be suitable for most students. However, everyone learns in a different way and so I recommend 2 alternatives that some students may feel more comfortable with. The first is Head First HTML and CSS (2nd Ed.) by Elisabeth Robson and Eric Freeman, which makes for a slightly gentler introduction and may be appropriate for those with little or no prior experience of web design. The second is HTML & CSS: Design and Build Web Sites by Jon Duckett, which will appeal to those with a design background.

Since web design is a fast evolving discipline, it's a good idea to keep up with current trends by reading online magazines (see below) and blogs. However, it's still nice to receive your news, reviews and articles in paper format. As far as printed magazines are concerned, there is only one worth mentioning and that is net Magazine. It's an excellent publication, covering all the areas of concern for students on this programme and I recommend that you subscribe to it. The online magazines listed below are just the most useful of many currently publishing useful material, so this should be considered a partial list only.

Essential Text Books

  • Learning Web Design (4th Ed.) by Jennifer Niederst Robbins ¦ details
  • The Modern Web by Peter Gasston ¦ details
  • Implementing Responsive Design by Tim Kadlec ¦ details
  • Handcrafted CSS by Dan Cederholm ¦ details
  • Above the Fold by Brian Miller ¦ details
  • A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web by Mark Boulton ¦ details
  • JavaScripy & jQuery by Jon Duckett ¦ details

Further Reading

  • Designing with Web Standards (3rd Ed.) by Jeffrey Zeldman ¦ details
  • Visual Design for the Modern Web by Penny McIntire ¦ details
  • Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler ¦ details
  • Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke ¦ details
  • Smashing Book #4 (New Perspectives on Web Design) by Various authors ¦ details
  • The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero ¦ details
  • A Practical Guide to Designing the Invisible by Robert Mills ¦ details

Reference Books

  • The Ultimate HTML Reference by Ian Lloyd ¦ details
  • The Ultimate CSS Reference by Tommy Olson and Paul O'Brien ¦ details

Essential Magazines

  • .NET Magazine (published monthly) ¦ details
  • A List Apart (online) ¦ details
  • Smashing Magazine (online) ¦ details
  • Six Revisions (online) ¦ details
  • Impressive Webs (online) ¦ details
  • Mashable (online) ¦ details

Essential Text Books

The books in this section form a core of texts that cover all the topics addressed during the Webpage Design course. During the course, you will be asked to do weekly reading and in most cases, it will be from these books. Many of them are available from the library but you should probably aim to own a copy of at least 3 or 4 of them, with Jennifer Robbins' Learning Web Design being top of your list.

Learning Web Design (4th Ed.) by Jennifer Niederst Robbins

Learning Web Design (4th Ed.)

If any book could claim to be a single volume introduction to everything a beginner needs to know about web design, this book comes closer than any other I know. If I tell you that the subtitle to this book is “A beginner's guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript and web graphics”, that will give you some idea of the scope of this excellent book. At just over 600 pages long, this isn't a short read, but it is a surprisingly light read. Robbins is obviously a teacher and her clear and logical explanations of the topics in this book are delivered at a sensible pace, which makes even complex concepts such as progressive enhancement and responsive web design easy to understand. Web design beginners should make this book number one on their shopping list.

See more information about Learning Web Design (4th Ed.)

Learning Web Design (4th Ed.) is available at Amazon.co.uk

Preview Learning Web Design (4th Ed.) at Google Books

Greenwich library: 4 copies + electronic copy ~ view catalogue entry

The Modern Web by Peter Gasston

The Modern Web

Inevitably, and even after 600 pages, Jennifer Robbins can't take us to the cutting edge of web design but fortunately, Peter Gasston can take us there with his book, The Modern Web. In it, Peter discusses many of the changes in web design technology happening right now and those that are set to become important in the near future such as the CSS Flexbox module. However, the book is not just about the headline design tools of the future, it also covers many topics that will just make you a better coder. Coverage of WAI-ARIA roles and HTML5 Microdata will help you write code that is semantically rich and accessible by assistive technologies. Of course, there's graphics too and Peter spends a whole chapter covering the SVG file format, which is destined to become possibly the most important graphics format on the web. This book will take your understanding of web technologies to an advanced level.

See more information about The Modern Web

The Modern Web is available at Amazon.co.uk

Preview The Modern Web at Google Books

Greenwich library: Electronic copy only ~ view catalogue entry

Implementing Responsive Design by Tim Kadlec

Implementing Responsive Design

Of all the conceptual and applied challenges that face the contemporary web designer, it is probably responsive design that causes the most difficulties. Partly this is due to the fact that it is still relatively new and optimised workflows have yet to be invented and certainly, the tools we currently use are far from ideal. Of course, every web designer must read Ethan Marcotte's Responsive Web Design published by A Book Apart in order to grasp the fundamentals of this approach, but what then? Well, Tim Kadlec's excellent book is the next step. It takes the principles outlined by Marcotte and expands on them, taking the reader on a journey through a typical web design project and demonstrating how responsive design principles can be implemented.

A good understanding of responsive design is important for all web designers and I recommend reading as much as you can on the subject. On your reading list should also be the chapters by Brad Frost and Trent Walton from The Mobile Book, published by Smashing Magazine.

See more information about Implementing Responsive Design

Implementing Responsive Design is available at Amazon.co.uk

Preview Implementing Responsive Design at Google Books

Greenwich library: 4 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Handcrafted CSS by Dan Cederholm

Handcrafted CSS

This is an inspirational book. It's full of useful techniques that produce excellent and beautiful results. Most importantly, it demonstrates how CSS3 can be implemented now by adopting what Dan Cederholm describes as “progressive enrichment”, a philosophy that says it's OK that websites can look different in different browsers - in fact, that they should look different because some browsers are more capable than others and we should allow those browsers to provide a better user experience.

This is a full-colour book so that you can easily see the graphic results of the accompanying code - a really good way to learn. Read this book, cover-to-cover (it's not that long) and start working with CSS3 now. Also, if you can afford a little extra, the DVD edition is excellent too.

Handcrafted CSS is available at Amazon.co.uk

Preview Handcrafted CSS at Google Books

Greenwich library: 3 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Above the Fold by Brian Miller

Above the Fold

Above the Fold is an ideal book for the web design newbie. Although it doesn't cover any particular topic in any great depth, it gives a great overview of the visual web design process and covers everything from the history of the web to the use of analytics via web page anatomy, typography, site planning, marketing and SEO. This book won't teach you how to code but it makes the perfect companion to your favourite book on HTML and CSS. It's printed in full colour with lots of really informative illustrations and lots of examples of websites that clearly illustrate the points made in the text. The book is a quick and easy read but there's enough here to make it a great reference too.

From the introduction: “The phrase ‘above the fold’ reminds us that there are both close similarities and vast differences between print and Web design. The principles of space usage, typography, and other elements of effective hierarchical communication are essential to both print and Web design, but the methods of achieving these principles involve different skill sets and consideration for the end user. That's what this book is about – the fundamentals of graphic design and the specific considerations a designer makes for effective web communication. And it's the reason Above the Fold is a fitting title.”

If I have one small criticism, it is that the book shows a bias towards the author's particular area of expertise (typography) but for those who need a visual design primer for the web that takes in other considerations like standard IAB banner sizes, this book is perfect.

Above the Fold is available at Amazon.co.uk

Greenwich library: 10 copies ~ view catalogue entry

A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web by Mark Boulton

A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web

It's probably fair to say that Mark Boulton's book has now reached the status of “classic text”. Essentially, it's a graphic design primer for web designers and is an ideal first read on the subject for anyone with little or no experience of visual design. The book contains no code and is not tied to any particular web technology and as such is an excellent generic guide to typography, colour and layout. The book also considers the design process and the development of design ideas.

Although the book can be bought in hard copy and eBook form from Five Simple Steps, it is also available to read for free.

See more information about A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web

A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web is available at Amazon.co.uk

Greenwich library: 6 copies ~ view catalogue entry

JavaScripy & jQuery by Jon Duckett

JavaScripy & jQuery

For anyone who has never written a computer programme before, JavaScript can be quite daunting Given that working with JavaScript and associated libraries like jQuery is now a key front-end skill, there is a need for a book that can take all would-be front-end designer/developers from first principles to an intermediate level in a simple and engaging manner. Jon Duckett's book does just that. It is unlike any other programming/scripting book I know. It is beautifully thought through, beautifully written and (what makes it different) beautifully presented.

See more information about JavaScripy & jQuery

JavaScripy & jQuery is available at Amazon.co.uk

This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

Further Reading

The books below all fill in gaps, overlap and expand upon the "Essential Text Books" listed above. You do not need to own them but they may be used as good alternatives or simply to explore a bit more of the subject.

Designing with Web Standards (3rd Ed.) by Jeffrey Zeldman

Designing with Web Standards (3rd Ed.)

This is a very important book. In Designing with Web Standards, Jeffrey Zeldman describes the way websites were coded in the twentieth century, clearly explains why this is now wrong and demonstrates how twenty-first century websites should be coded. The common perception is that designing websites to web standards is onerous for the designer and transparent to the user - naturally, many designers choose to ignore web standards. Zeldman demonstrates that working with standards, creating semantically correct XHTML in conjunction with structural CSS is, in fact, liberating rather than oppressive.

Some may fear that this book will give them a hard time and that Zeldman (standards guru) will push web standards for the sake of web standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Zeldman is himself a website designer and as such, he delivers a very pragmatic approach to coding. The examples in the book are mainly based upon XHTML 1.0 Transitional (not Strict). Zeldman even covers the use of tables for page structure, heresy to most hard-line standards coders. The truth is that Zeldman is the best sort of evangelist. One who tells you it's OK not to go by the book if that seems impractical and you won't burn in hell as a consequence.

The book is also very instructive in the way it describes the development of web browsers and helps the reader to make sense of the many peculiarities that some browsers exhibit.

This may all sound rather dull but Zeldman has a very personable approach to technical writing. He is aware of the arcane nature of much of his subject matter and does a very good job of making it accessible and occasionally humorous.

This book has changed the way many web designers think and design. Whether you are a web design beginner or a seasoned professional, this book must be read; it will help you form opinions on web coding and will certainly help you to create better sites.

Designing with Web Standards (3rd Ed.) is available at Amazon.co.uk

Preview Designing with Web Standards (3rd Ed.) at Google Books

Greenwich library: 10 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Visual Design for the Modern Web by Penny McIntire

Visual Design for the Modern Web

This is one of only a few books that attempts to make the crossover between graphic design principles and the coding of web pages and in the main it succeeds very well. In fact, it goes beyond visual design and introduces the idea of design for usability with a very good chapter on navigation.

The book is written for web design beginners but it has great aspirations. Rather than simply plodding through a series of themed chapters, the book begins with a couple of excellent chapters that give a firm grounding in the concepts of visual design and its relation to the functioning of the site (interaction design). In chapter 2, “Site Analysis”, the author devises a very useful schema that will help beginners understand the entire web design process.

The book includes one of the best chapters on colour, covering, colour theory, a good explanation of hexadecimal values and a suggested approach for the creation of colour schemes. Throughout the book, web design principles are clearly stated and explained.

Unfortunately, this book is currently out of print but is available second-hand.

Visual Design for the Modern Web is available at Amazon.co.uk

Preview Visual Design for the Modern Web at Google Books

Greenwich library: 4 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler

Universal Principles of Design

Universal Principles of Design, subtitled “100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design” is essentially a directory of all those design terms and “buzz phrases” that you know you ought to know the meaning of. The authors have chosen 100 design ideas and concepts and devote a double-page spread to each. Concepts such as Ockhams Razor, Fibonacci Sequence, Iteration and Legibility (the basics that all designers must understand) are beautifully described and illustrated with excellent examples to illustrate each point.

This is a general design reference although website examples are used where appropriate. All students of design should read this book and all designers should at least consider it a check list for their own knowledge and understanding.

Universal Principles of Design is available at Amazon.co.uk

Preview Universal Principles of Design at Google Books

Greenwich library: 5 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke

Hardboiled Web Design

So much of contemporary web design is about technique. Some may feel that the way we apply the various technologies like HTML and CSS is rule-driven but that's not the case. Of course we have a bunch of technology building blocks and there are rules about they way they are used but an understanding of the rules is only the start of the journey. Web designers also need to understand the way the rules are interpreted, what are the accepted practices and how all this understanding should be applied in order to create websites to a professional standard. Fortunately for us, Andy Clarke's Hardboiled Web Design gives us the information we won't find in the rule books.

The book was published in 2010, and I've heard Andy say that it is already out of date. Certainly, it doesn't address responsive web design but there is still enough here to make it a valuable read for those trying to understand the complexities of contemporary web design.

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Hardboiled Web Design is available at Amazon.co.uk

Greenwich library: 6 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Smashing Book #4 (New Perspectives on Web Design) by Various authors

Smashing Book #4 (New Perspectives on Web Design)

Over the years, Smashing Magazine has produced some great books that have kept us all up-to-date with contemporary ideas and concepts in web design. Smashing Book #4 is no exception but this volume elevates the series from ‘good to know’ to ‘essential reading’ for all web designers. I could have singled out any one of the 13 essays in this book but for me, Harry Roberts' chapter, Modern CSS Architecture and Front-End Development is a seminal work. In it, Harry challenges some of the most strongly held beliefs (e.g. CSS class names should be semantic) and paves a new way forward for front-end developers. This is a book that demonstrates the maturing of web design as an intellectual endeavour and it really is essential reading for anyone who needs to understand web design today.

See more information about Smashing Book #4 (New Perspectives on Web Design)

This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero

The Shape of Design

Frank Chimero's book attempts to explain what design is and to describe the process of design. For non-designers, this will be a view into an entirely new world and for those who think they are already designers, it's likely to be a form of inspiration. The book is a personal view of design, it doesn't aim to set out an academic framework and this is a good thing. On many levels, design presents a personal experience and this book allows us to tap into the personal thoughts and ideas of an established designer, who has given a great deal of thought to the intuitive process of design. It's a slim book, an easy read and is recommended reading for anyone who is involved with design.

The book practices what it preaches, it is available as a beautifully bound hard-cover edition with wonderful illustrations and excellent typography (yes, the book itself is an object lesson in design) but it is also available to read online for free.

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This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

A Practical Guide to Designing the Invisible by Robert Mills

A Practical Guide to Designing the Invisible

How do we design the invisible and why would we want to? In this book, Robert Mills explores design beyond the superficial, visual surface and explains that designers must become familiar with the meaning in the work we produce. Mills explains how the design decisions we make (the colour of a webpage, the form of an icon) can change the way people think, feel and react to our designs. The book makes a very good companion to Mark Boulton's book by adding a layer of understanding about the implications of the design decisions we make.

See more information about A Practical Guide to Designing the Invisible

This title is not currently available from the Greenwich library

Essential Reference Books

You may not need these books in the first instance but as your work develops, you may find that you need something more comprehensive than the references that are often appended to most text books. You don't need to buy these books, there are hard copies in the library if you like paper, but the online versions are frequently updated, so they are your best source of reference.

The Ultimate HTML Reference by Ian Lloyd

The Ultimate HTML Reference

It may seem a bit geeky to have a whole book that just tells you what all the HTML tags are, what they do and what parameters they can use; oh, and how the various flavour of browser render them, but when the chips are down, a book like this can save your life. Well, not your life, obviously but it could save your sanity.

Since buying this book, I have found myself coming back to it again and again - it really is the authority. Not only does it contain references to all the tags you use every day but it also contains references to those tags and parameters you never knew existed. In short, this book helps you increase the width your knowledge of HTML and not just the depth. The Ultimate HTML Reference is available in a free online version at Sitepoint.

The Ultimate HTML Reference is available at Amazon.co.uk

Greenwich library: 3 copies ~ view catalogue entry

The Ultimate CSS Reference by Tommy Olson and Paul O'Brien

The Ultimate CSS Reference

This book is possibly even more useful than its HTML partner because the browser support for CSS is much more variable than that for HTML and this book documents which browsers support the various CSS properties and which do not. Again, this can be a real sanity-saver for those occasions when the browser is just not rendering a page the way you intended.

The book is organised by property type but fortunately also includes an alphabetic index, so you always have two chances of finding what you need. There is also an excellent first chapter (What is CSS?) that describes how CSS works, the syntax of CSS rules and how to link CSS with your HTML pages. The Ultimate CSS Reference is available in a free online version at Sitepoint.

The Ultimate CSS Reference is available at Amazon.co.uk

Greenwich library: 6 copies ~ view catalogue entry

Essential Periodicals

The Web is ever-changing. New ideas in webpage design come and go and you need to keep up-to-date. Sadly, most web design text books are out-of-date after 2 or 3 years and the best way to stay in touch with emerging ideas and technologies is to subscribe to regularly published magazines. The magazines described below (paper and online) are some of the best around. Great new material on Web Design is being published all the time and it's a good idea to subscribe to RSS feeds and newsletters so that you at least get a digest of what's available.

net Magazine (published monthly)

NET Magazine

net magazine has been around for a while but over the past few years it has matured into a magazine aimed at professional web designers and serious amateurs. The monthly articles are always relevant, well researched and full of useful information. The magazine has benefited from the work of an advisory panel of net worthies, including Andy Budd and Andy Clarke.

Each month also includes a number of technical articles on various topics relevant to the course by some excellent technical writers, including Craig Grannell. It is the best paper-based web design magazine and I recommend you take out a subscription.

In recent times, net has evolved a really useful online version of the magazine called Creative Bloq with new articles published daily. It's well worth visiting regularly or adding to your list of RSS feeds.

A List Apart (online)

A List Apart

A List Apart "for people who make websites" is an e-zine that published new articles monthly. All content is free and there is now an extensive archive of articles on a range of relevant topics.

The articles are informative and well written and are often by well-known web luminaries like Dave Shea and Jeffrey Zeldman. This is all good stuff and free, so just read it and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Smashing Magazine (online)

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine is a fantastic resource. Articles are published daily and its focus is graphic design for the web. That's not to say there aren't plenty of technical articles on CSS, usability and interface design - there are, but it's a great place to go for inspiration and design ideas. The site also has a tutorials section, covering many graphic techniques and applications like Photoshop. The Smashing Network includes useful and relevant articles from other web blogs and magazines so it's a good central information hub.

Six Revisions (online)

Six Revisions

Six Revisions is another excellent resourse that publishes new content almost daily. Topics vary widely; there is a bias towards graphic design (in a good way) but there is plenty on coding too. All the content is of high quality and all relevant to this programme. Tutorials are archived, so if you need to learn how to make web buttons in Photoshop, how to use visual weight in your designs or how to reset your CSS, there's a tutorial for that.

Impressive Webs (online)

Impressive Webs

Impressive Webs is a bolg/magazine that publishes content every few days. It has a more technical focus and there are very useful articles and tutorials covering all the relevant coding languages; HTML, CSS, PHP etc. Content is well written and the topics are always at the cutting edge of web design. It's a great place to see new techniques for using CSS3 and HTML5 for example and for advice on how browsers behave with these new technologies.

Mashable (online)


Mashable describes itself as a news site for social media and Web tips. In truth, it's rather more than that, covering a wide range of Web industry and technology news. As such, it's a great way of keeping up-to-date with what's going on in the online world. News items cover all the big players such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and the like. News articles are published frequently (too many each day to read everything) but just scaning through the headlines is a good way to get an overview and then dip in to the ones of particular interest.

A Web Design Toolkit

Although many web designer/developers will prefer to work with applications like Dreamweaver and Photoshop for maximum flexibility and functionality, it isn't really necessary. A perfectly adequate toolkit can be had for free. The applications listed below are all you need to create brilliant web pages.

Basic Web Dev Toolkit (free)

Both Notepad++ and Firefox are available as portable apps for the PC and can be taken with you wherever you go on a USB stick. Firefox portable for OS X is also available.

Some alternatives worth considering

Aptana StudioWrite your HTML and CSS code in Notepad++, create and edit your images in Paint.NET, preview and check the results in Firefox and then upload to your web server using Fire FTP.

If you prefer working in an integrated development environment, take a look at Aptana Studio. In a nutshell, it's Dreamweaver without the WYSIWYG editor and because it's open source, there is a free version.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

Files are copied from your local computer to the web server using a protocol known as FTP. To make the transfer, you need an FTP client - a software application. FTP clients such as FileZilla, Cyberduck and SmartFTP are commonly used for uploading files to web servers. However, software applications like Dreamweaver have their own built-in FTP client and can also be used for uploading files.

FTP Security

Unlock FTPSome hosting services require that you unlock FTP on the web server before uploading files. This is a security feature and although it's an extra step in the process, it is good practice to keep your website as secure as possible by restricting FTP access.

If your website is hosted with Eco Web Hosting, you will need to login to your control panel and unlock FTP before atempting to upload files with your FTP client. There are 2 options for unlocking: time and IP address. In most cases, the simplest method is to unlock FTP for a set time period, during which you can upload files to the server. When the set time has elapsed, FTP is automatically locked again. The alternative method is to unlock FTP using your IP address. Unlocking this way means that files can only be uploaded from your current IP address. This method is a good option if you have a fixed IP address but as most broadband ISPs use dynamic IP addresses (they change every time your router reconnects to the Internet), it may not be convenient. This is especially true if you upload files to your site from different physical locations.

Connecting to your webspace with FileZilla

If you are using Eco Web Hosting, make sure you have unlocked FTP (see above) before you begin.

  1. Enter the host name e.g. "www.webdesignstuff.co.uk".
  2. Enter your username in the form "username@webdesignstuff.co.uk".
  3. Enter your password.
  4. Leave the "Port" option blank and click the "Quickconnect" button. You should see the file listing of your personal folder.
  5. Be sure to upload your files to the web root folder; this is usually called public_html.

The index.html file is your personal homepage and may be edited. Do not edit or remove any of the other files or folders you find on the web server - they are there for a reason.


You can download the FileZilla FTP client here.

Connecting to your webspace with Dreamweaver

During site definition, click the "Advanced" tab and then select the "Remote Info" category.

  1. Set the Access type to "FTP".
  2. Enter the FTP host name e.g. "www.webdesignstuff.co.uk".
  3. Leave the Host directory blank. Your account details will default to your home folder so you do not need to specify it.
  4. Enter your Login username in the form "username@webdesignstuff.co.uk" and enter your password.
  5. Click the "Test" button to make sure you can connect.
Dreamweaver Remote Info

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