Want to pick up a new skill? Maybe just brush up on an old one. No time like the present. Here’s some good places to look:
“Journalists need new tools to work online. I started building this online database of such tools as a personal project, just a way to keep track of everything I was using. It has since grown into something I think others will find useful.” During some more tumultuous days of operation, the Society for News Design posted this landing pad for all sorts of helpful links cultivated by Chris Amico. SND reps say that site is still being maintained, but even if it weren’t, there’s still lots of good resources to peruse here.
“Poynter’s News University is one of the world’s most innovative online journalism and media training programs. We are open to journalists, bloggers, freelance writers, journalism students. Anyone who wants to improve their journalism-based skills.” And that includes a wide variety of skills. There’s self-directed courses for just about anything you feel like taking a little time with. Learn about the importance of typography or the nuances of color. If you’re a little more advanced, or expected to be, see what you can learn about turning a pile of numbers into something useful or making yourself more valuable to the online side of things. A lot of the self-directed courses are free; a few are about $30 — or less. And most of them can be completed in about an hour.
If you’re thinking it’s time to jump into the deeper waters of web and mobile design, this is a good place to start. A little more intermediate than the buffets listed above, O’Reilly Media is a trusted source of web training manuals and offers lots of online training opportunities to help you jump into — or brush up on — the latest frontiers of web design. Some free (generally live online sessions only); some not. Find the right one for you, and it’s all valuable.
Learn from the big G itself — and its network of developer “followers.”
So you want to be a graphic designer
If you’re looking for a professional outlet for your creativity outside of journalism, there’s plenty of options — if you know what you’re really looking for. To figure out how your years of experience translate outside the industry, or how your salary might (or might not) improve, this is an excellent place to start. Learn the lingo, potential requirements, get a handle on the competition, and learn what education/experience it takes to be successful in an artistic occupation outside the newsroom.
If you’re new to the world of web design and lost in the alphabet soup of HTML, PHP, MySQL, etc., sites like these (full of quick overviews and run-throughs) might help point your toward the sorts of skills that might be most valuable for you to spend time (and possibly money) on down the road.
- w3schools.com is a one-stop shop for developers of any level to learn any-”web-designy”-thing under the sun. This site has a lot of links to learn all things web-design: AJAX, HTML, XML, SVG, Flash, etc. And it includes a playground to get some hands-on training for what you’re learning. A good jumping-off point, but very basic in terms of what you can gleen here, but most of the offerings here include a “Try it Yourself” editor, so you can experiment right in the browser window as you pick up or polish new skills.
- WebDevelopersNotes.com seems a little less authoritative in its approach, but has a long list of web tutorials — many seemingly less focused on developers — to choose from, too.
- Tizag.com seems a slightly sloppier version of the sites listed above, but it has a shorter list to choose from, and that might be its advantage: focus. Regardless of its appearance, all the bases are definitely covered.
MySQL, “the world’s most popular open source database,” provides a forum on its site for free training on the subject; or you can scour their message boards (and the rest of the web for that matter) to come up with a few more resources you may or may not find helpful, such as…
Artfulsoftware‘s MySQL offering seems like a Craigslist kind of reference from a self-proclaimed (?) expert on the language. Regardless of the credibility of the source, given the sheer number of links here, there’s just gotta be some useful stuff in there somewhere, if you’re willing to do a little digging.
Gadgets for the taking
- iPhone simulators: Test your app on a virtual iPhone, also available for PCs.
- Gradient generator: Create your own backgrounds and buttons, and it will spit out the corresponding coding.
- Misc: Find metric ton more stuff here, here and here.