Okay, a bit of a nerdy topic, but important nonetheless.
Just to make clear, I am predominantly a WYSIWYG kinda guy. I first cut my teeth on Front Page, and I used up until a few years ago as my main web creation platform.
And while I think that using a simple WYSIWYG is important for people who are starting out in web design, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do NOT let that be the end of it, as far as code goes.
You MUST dig in deeper to the code. If you’re going to be serious about design at all, you should at least know how to code a page without one. I personally think WYSIWYG’s are wonderful at making things go quickly, but for complete control, know the code.
Personally, I think Dreamweaver is one of the most powerful editors on the market, if not the most powerful. But that doesnt mean it doesnt drive me nuts sometimes.
It’s table editing features have gotten much more robust, but more often than not, I have to dig into the code and tweak things by hand to make them look right.
Now, speaking as someone who’s foundation was built in Front Page (makes my stomach quiver just to THINK about it), why is it that I understand such basic things as proper tag nesting, proper attribute formatting, etc etc etc.
So, here are some tips for people (hopefully the people who read it are the same people whos code I am going to have to wade through someday…)
1. Nest tags properly!
Why is this so difficult? Tags are containers with tops and bottoms. Open Tag – Top, Close tag – Bottom. Want something in that container? Put both open and close tag inside their. Think of it as if you were putting boxes inside of one another. So, you wouldnt have <body><form></body></form>. You would have <body><form></form></body>. It really is such a SUPER simple thing, and makes life MUCH easier.
2. Use <em></em> when you want to emphasize something, <strong></strong> when you want to emphasize it by bolding.
3. PLEASE for the love of all that is holy, quote your attributes, and quote them with double quotes. If you are not quoting your attributes, you most likely will suffer a leprous death, unfit for even Idi Amin.
4. Please start coding in XHTML. The code is MUCH nicer, and much easier to read. Yes, it means a TINY bit more work, but seriously, it’s not really all that hard. You can even convert your current documents to it with Dreamweaver, and DW will make all new documents XHTML compliant if you want.
5. NO MORE FONT TAGS. Please.
6. Use inline style declarations sparingly, please.
Okay, Im done griping for the moment…