|There is an amazing amount of free help available to you, the web designer, on the Internet. Graphic designers, web usability gurus, and web development companies are among the many who would like to help you make your website the best it can be. There are a number of reasons why they are offering you this free advice or stuff. Be aware of what their reason might be. Are they trying to sell you something? Did they steal copyrighted work and are passing it off as their own? Do they enjoy web design so much they want people to see their work? Or do they love you just for who you are!! With that caveat, go ahead and take a look at some of these resources. I have tried to list ones that I like. However, the web changes so frequently, new sites are being added. You might want to use a search engine to find other resources. If you find a good one, email me. I will add it to this list. On the other hand, if you find any of the following links no good, let me know. And, of course, make sure you have permission from the author to use their resources.|
Get on a Webdesign Listserve
- DevHeads-UP is a weekly email from ZDNet, one of the best online web design companies. DevHeads-Up usually has a theme each week that they are reporting on. There is always free cut and paste scripts.
- CNET has 22 free newsletters if you are really lonely for email. I subscribe to Builder Blast and recommend it for HTML junkies. On my most recent journey to CNET, I discovered a new web design newsletter: Web Design Dispatch(unreviewed).
- There used to be a website called The Mining Company:"We mine the Web so you don't have to". They changed their name to About.com and broadened out to report on multiple topics. They did however retain their web design and HTML gurus, Jean Kaiser and Jennifer Kyrnin. You can receive design tips in AboutWebDesign and HTML tips in AboutHTML.
- Hotwired.com has a division called Webmonkey devoted to webdesign. They have a couple of newsletters you can subscribe to. I have found their newsletters to be somewhat less helpful than some of the others.
- Web Usability Newsletter takes a slightly different slant as it discusses ways to make your web pages more user friendly. A noble effort, indeed.
These sites contain a combination of web tips, graphics, and free scripts. There is more stuff than you would ever want here, so I am only listing a few.
- DevHeads is ZDNet's superstore.
- Builder.Com is CNET's webdesign superstore.
- Design is About.Com's superstore.
- Webmonkey is Hotwired's superstore.
- MediaBuilder.Com has a bunch of images and online tools. I especially like their Buttonmaker tool.
- WebDeveloper.Com offers tutorials and tips especially for those who wish to go "beyond HTML"
Specialized Online Tools!
Rather than buying a program to create or do something, these websites let you use their software for free. The negative of most of these tools is your page or image has to be online so they function best as a quality check when you are done.
- GifBot is a ZDNet tool that reduces image sizes. Two features make this better than others(such as GifWorks, below): a) it works to optimize JPG images also! b) has a neat mouseover feature that allows you to easily compare your original with the reduced image.
- ButtonMaker lets you make a nice beveled button out of any image you have.
- GifWorks is an online GIF image editor if you do not have such a program loaded on your machine(ex. working at home). It is especially useful for optimizing the size of your .gif images.
- HTMLWorks is a site that analyzes your html code. The best feature is to optimize your page by labeling the image sizes for you. Biggest problem: Your site has to be online already. Not a bad tester to run your webpage through when you think it's perfect. It may tweak it a little more perfect!
- Spell Check is another ZDNet tool to locate spelling errors on your web page. Not that any of you need help with that!
- Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary has a spelling helper and a thesaurus for that just right word.
- Browser Check give you statistical data on how your page(s) are viewed differently on different browsers. While not a substitute for visually looking at your pages on different browsers, it gives you a rating and suggest changes to improve your rating.
- ZyGraphics is one of several online tools offered by Zyris.com. They limit your choices, but the graphics are professional looking.
- Visibone Color Lab This Webmaster's color palette tool arranges all of the websafe(looks the same on either a PC or a Mac) 216 colors by hue, so designers can easily pick colors that don't clash. Click on a color and you will get the RGB, CMYK, and hexadecimal codes. Then, you can click on up to 7 more colors to see how they line up next to each other and how different text color show up.
A Few Other Miscellaneous Resources
I am not sure why I am adding these. Everything you could want is in the big superstores for free, but... Here are a few more, maybe, unique sites.
- Abe's Picture Finder searches the Internet for you guessed it, pictures. Have you ever just wanted an image of say, a baseball glove. This is a mini-search engine that you load on your computer and finds pictures only. It has it's limitations in that it only retrieves images based on the alt tag applied to the image. If Joe Webdesigner names his dog "baseball glove", you may get a picture of Joe's dog. But it's free.
- WebWord is a web usability forum. Usability is basically "how easy your website is for viewers to use". Mostly suggestions from the web usability guru, John Rhoades.
- Bold and Beautiful Web Graphics is a webring organized to display innovative web graphics.
- Laurie's Free Web Graphics uses a theme set approach. You can find original themed graphics from Laurie Farese. I think she has cool art and besides, she's kind of a hippie chick.
- I don't know if it's a chick thing, or not, but I like it. LuminEssence Grab'n Go Graphics specializes in sets of coordinated page graphics, all of which were created
by graphic artist Cynthia Johnston. This congenial site features advice for using each set of
graphics, including suggestions for suitable text colors. Noncommercial sites are welcome
to download sets for use in their pages, but they must include a logo on each page on
which the graphics are used and register their URLs with Luminessence. If you like the
sophisticated look thematic graphics give to your site, Joann's Graphics has beautiful Web
- ActionXChange.com is a Photoshop users nirvana. Hundreds of cool effects you can do with the most widely used image editing tool on the planet. It's free and if you sign up, you can download "actions" which automatically let your Photoshop create the effect for you.
- FreeImages.com This site offers the basic four B's(bullets, backgrounds, buttons, bars) and a groovy collection of digital art--no strings attached. It also
links you to The Animation Factory, which houses more than 10,000 3D GIF animations for
use on personal Web pages (you need to purchase a license for commercial use).Warning: Go easy on animations. They can load slow and ugly!
- Finding a good background for your site (one that stays in the background) can be difficult.
Fortunately, you've got a lot from which to choose. One of several noteworthy sites for
backgrounds, Pixel Foundry's Background Archive offers hundreds of original backgrounds
(both JPEG and GIF) and some visitor contributions. The popular WebGround site features
more than 600 textures (all JPEG). For bordered backgrounds, try Pambytes. This eclectic
collection of borders is easy to navigate; click any border to see how it will look full-screen.
These images are free for noncommercial and commercial use.
They'll Host your Webpages for Free!
These organizations will provide webserver space to you for free. Of course, expect to see some advertising.
- Tripod is probably the most reliable and with the least obnoxious advertising. They are currently offering 50 megabytes free space, plenty for several websites.
- Angelfire is a Lycos network free webhosting service.
- Crosswinds.net recommended by ace HTML student Timmy St. Sauver. No advertising and unlimited space! Let me know if you have a problem with this site and I will fail Timmy in future classes.
- Homestead.com offers 16 MB of space. They put a small(50 pixel?) frame at the top of the browser window with their name and weblink.