What do you wish you knew when you started web-building?

it’s easy to forget how far we’ve grown from when we first started webweaving. are there things you wish you knew when you first started building a website? what do you wish someone had told you?

this could also be a good start for a potential guide on the 32bit.cafe website for new webmasters, so let all the advice fly!

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  • learn how grids work! you will always want to bash your head in a wall setting one up but they really do make things a LOT easier
  • vw is a great alternative to px; much more responsive
  • make frequent comments so you know why a piece of code is there
  • embrace semantic html, besides accessibility it helps when you are coding and you can separate between all your 5 million divs
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Gonna second the css grids sentiment, that would’ve saved me hours of painstakingly trying to get everything to line up neatly :sweat_smile: to compliment that, “box-sizing: border-box” as well.

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CSS didn’t exist when I started but what I badly wish I’d known was: keep backups. Keep multiple version backups. You never know when a host is going to disappear, and if it happens, you don’t want to be without anything.

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As someone who is guilty of learning and relearning programming and some web dev several times I wish that what I wouldn’t have done is worry about others’ opinions too early and focus on what I was learning. When I was using YouTube to look up information it was easy to get sucked into the opinions of web developers and all these “Day in the life of a software engineer” videos that were popular at the time. That’s what I would remove if I could put myself back at square one, which I really wish I could sometimes.

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One: Big one is proper/sensible folder structure and filepaths! This is very important if you want to transfer your site files to another host with a lot less hickups! Or even if you want to develop your site on your local computer files and just upload them to your host easily.

I say this as someone who edits my files on the Neocities file editor rather than on my local files. If I change hosts I will have to manually edit almost all of my internal site links because I have the full neocties url for my file paths rather than the shortened ones. Despite realizing the problem with this I still do it because my folder organization is lacking and I would need to redo that from the get go anyways.

I have poor file organization because coming onto Neocities I didn’t ever Intend to have a long term personal site, so I didnt focus on good site practices. I thought I was gonna make a few pages and then abandon it like many of my other hobby projects. Two years and Many pages and images later I’m stuck with a mess of my own design :sob:

Two: Add alt text to your images right away! Its a simple way to make your site way more inclusive of blind users and you probably don’t want to do it later on down the road when you have hundreds of images. A phrase to two sentences is a good length depending on complexity of the image.

Three: Likewise, defining the size of your text in em rather than px makes it easy for people to resize your text in their browser if they need it bigger! (1em = 16px generally)

Four: Honestly width: fit-content; is so simple but so useful for making the width of a block element automatically adjust to the text/image inside of it, while still being a block element rather than an inline element. This would have helped me so much in my many designs where I manually set a width via trial and error which won’t even adjust to the size of the element if it changes. Legit wish I had learned this way sooner.

(also this is a great forum topic!!!)

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This is true, but only relevant if you have the issue of changing domain name or using a host’s default shoddy, subpar and unprofessional(And you want to be professional because TEH INTERNETS IS SRS BUSINESS!)

For me personally, the biggest thing I wish I learnt sooner was this:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

Which tells phone screens to render the page correctly and not to try faking it as a desktop(where it looks terrible), since I use @media css to make a few changes for phones.

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  • start learning about accessibility NOW!!! everyone else has said something relating to it but I really can’t stress enough. Going back through all my pages to fix semantics/alt text/tab order has been a nightmare. I wish I at least knew some basic accessibility tenants right at the start.
  • Stop arranging everything with absolute positioning because as soon as you look at that thing on another device you will cry. At the very least, wrap all the absolute stuff in a container to keep it in place.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your site, in and out of webdev spaces… The most fun you’ll have with it comes when you’re bouncing ideas off your friends or getting/recieving help from those more knowledgeable.

Everyone’s has really good answers so far, this was an awesome idea :o

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When I started, all the best practices I adhere to now didn’t exist yet and CSS was a lot less powerful. So instead, I’m gonna say…

Don’t expect your sites to be preserved just because you hosted them on an extremely prominent free host. Like I did with Freewebs. :sob:

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Lots of great tips here :D

I honestly don’t have much to add on the technical side, but I’ll echo zepp’s suggestion (don’t worry about other people’s opinions too much) and add: It’s good to get some inspiration outside of the Web/Dev/Tech bubbles! This is something I’m actively trying to do at this point in my journey. It can be refreshing to look to other fields for inspiration on how to work, how to think about problems, how to get projects organized, etc.

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One of the most important pieces of advice is

Don’t be afraid of asking for help!

  • Learn accessibility as soon as possible. The sooner you do the less painful it’ll be.
  • Utilize html and css comments as much as possible. You don’t want to forget which part does what.
    • how to make an html comment: <!-- you out your notes here. make sure to keep the spaces! -->
    • how to make an css comment: /*put your notes here. these don't need any space between them like html comments do.*/
  • That being said make sure the class and id names make sense to you! Reminder for all you know there might be a situation or moment in your life where you’ll have to take a break from your project. So make sure that you don’t give your <header> an id name like <header id="footer"> that’ll just make it harder for you when you get back.
  • Use semantic html tags like <header> <main> <section> and <footer> for example. They’re there for a reason. Not only that but it makes your code easier to read for both you and others that you might collaborate with.
  • Learn flex-box and css grid as soon as possible. Having a fundemental understanding of these concepts will save you a lot of time.
  • Try to add media queries early on in the site/page building process. Doing that makes it easier to keep your look consistent on all devices. It also saves you a ton of time from completely redoing your page from the ground up because your friend isn’t able to view it on their only device. (their phone)
  • Name your files consistently and in a browser friendly way. For example I don’t recommend having spaces in your file since your browser with automatically read it as something like file%20name.jpg making the url harder to read, and making it harder to access. It’s a pain in the neck trying to access a file with spaces in it for this reason. Try to use hyphens instead of spaces if you want readability. For example: file-name.jpg that way your browser won’t add %20 and it’ll read it as file-name.jpg instead. It also makes it easier to find.
    • addedum to this point. another way to keep your files consistent is sticking to a proper naming scheme. For example say you have a website reviewing comic books. Say you want to also show a few pages per comic review. You’d want to name it consistently so it’s easier for you to find and add. Like comic-name-page-# or something like that.
  • Make backups as frequent as possible. This, in my opinion is one of the more important pieces of advice I’m sharing. This is for multiple reasons like:
    1. Your hard drive could fail. (which in that case make sure to backup your site multiple ways. on your hard drive, a external device (like usb drives or external hardrives), and on a cloud server. (like google drive, dropbox, mega, etc.)
    2. Your hosting provider could go under.
    3. You could make a change that you don’t like and having a backup of the previous version could save you a lot of trouble.

Idk what else to think so hopefully these will help. Also sorry if this is unreadable! :sob:

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this is a real basic one, but i literally went years without knowing about it: when specifying a file path in HTML or CSS, you can start it with a slash “/” to make it relative to the root folder of the website.

for example, if you have a global stylesheet that you want to use on every page that’s located in the root folder of your site, you can just use this code to include it on any HTML page, no matter how deep it is in the folder hierarchy:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/style.css" type="text/css" />

before i knew about this, i would always just have to figure out how many “…/” i would need to add the start of every file path to get back to the root folder for every page on my website.

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