How I customized my WordPress Blog #3

Image: LaRuth

The Very Begining…

I can remember when I first designed my first web site a few years ago. Having no knowledge of HTML or web design, I decided to take the plunge and learn for myself. As a Graphic Design graduate in print design (at Coventry University, UK), I had little experience in the online side of design. So, little surprise that it took me over a year (on-and-off) tinkering and learning from books and online tutorials.

Don’t get me wrong, this article isn’t a CSS tutorial of any sort, but it will outline the resources that really helped me to eventually hand-code my own compliant CSS. Firstly, I never ever really got to grips with basic HTML, as I designed my first web-site using Adobe GoLive—a now, discontinued application. I used to tinker around with the code with no real understanding of its meaning. No wonder I re-designed one site three times until I was happy.

The late discovery…

About 18 months ago, I was surfing the internet when I stumbled upon a wonderful site—CSS Mania. There were some designs on there that were truly amazing, and I couldn’t figure out why they looked so good. So, I looked into some of the featured web-sites’ code—and discovered that the sites were constructed from <div> tags. This new world of code enticed me to find out more. I knew that I possessed a certain degree of intelligence, so I decided there and then to learn CSS…oh yes.

I may have discovered CSS rather late—indeed many designers had been utilizing it for a few years, but I was determined to learn. So I searched online for tutorials to help me gain some new coding skills, but the information I was discovering wasn’t structured enough for me. There were varied topics by different authors, publishing tutorials for different skill-levels. This was no good, so I searched for books to buy instead.

The first book I read was Beginning CSS Web Development, by author, blogger and designer, Simon Collison. This great resource gave me the skills I needed to code my first website, with subsequent revisions. The second book I studied was CSS Mastery [Advanced Web Standards Solutions] by Simon Collison, Andy Budd and Cameron Moll. This took me from a beginer-level to a more competent CSS coder.

I recommend anyone who wants to learn CSS coding to take a look at these books (and other like them) to grasp the basic fundamentals of this skill-set. Just like many things in life, once you actually grasp the basic fundamentals of coding, you’re already half way there.

The Final Conclusion…

I never ended up being an expert in this field, nor did I intend to. What I wanted to do is be able to promote my services online with ‘my own hand’ as it were. I’m not at any kind of skill level to offer web design related services to clients, but I am able to design with much trail and error, may I add, my own sites.

In the next installment in this set of articles, I’ll start to outline how I customized my blog (yeah, like the post title states) and hopefully start to write some helpful hints that I’ve learned. If you missed article #2, you can read it here.

5 thoughts on “How I customized my WordPress Blog #3”

  1. Rob Cubbon Design

    Hi Andrew, I had a similar experience with CSS. It really takes ages to get your head around it if you’re from a print design background, even more so if you’d being playing around with pre-CSS table-based HTML layouts before. I too got a couple of books, both Sitepoint, The CSS Anthology, that you have and How to Design Websites the Right Way with CSS (a good one for a beginner). I also think that messing around with WordPress helps. You’ve done so well in a short space of time, shouldn’t you consider carrying on and becoming a CSS guru?

    Rob Cubbon Designs last blog post..Using vector illustrations in designs to deliver your message

  2. Andrew Kelsall

    Hi Rob

    Yeah, I’ve done plenty of WordPress editing over the past couple of years, although, I am totally inept in understanding PHP. I make educated guesses about what certain PHP code does what, but no understanding on coding it. This may be my next challenge I think…and another book.

    Maybe one day I’ll get really serious about learning it I think.

    PS I don’t know why your comment went to moderation, your comments should appear straight away now. Strange.

    BTW, love your Gravatar with transparency, goes well with lime green!

  3. Matt Deaton

    JUST started blogging with wordpress, with NO code experience. Nice to see there’s hope for serious customization.

    Thanks for all the tips,

    Matt Deatons last blog post..Libertarian Party’s impending doom

  4. Andrew Kelsall

    No problem Matt Matt. It’s good to know that someone else can benefit from my experiences. Part #4 coming soon…