Co.Design

A Video Series Teaching Web Design To Anyone Who's Afraid Of Code

A new series of web tutorials called "Don’t Fear the Internet" tries to teach web design to people who don’t want to be web designers.

Anyone who has ever tried to build a website for the first time knows that awful feeling when confronted with lines of HTML, CSS, and PHP, languages as foreign as any known to man. Well, never fear. Two graphic designers have begun releasing a series of video tutorials called "Don’t Fear the Internet" that explains how to perform the basics of web design without having to become an actual web designer.

The videos, created by Jessica Hische (also the designer behind the "Should I Work for Free" flowchart and Daily Drop Cap) with her boyfriend Russ Maschmeyer, aren’t intended to be comprehensive guides. Instead, the process reflects a refreshing, stitched-together DIY sensibility. The two of them designed the title cards and interstitials in Illustrator (typeset in Brandon Grotesque by Hannes von Döhren), cut and pasted the audio using GarageBand, and slapped it all together in iMovie.

But the real "fear removal" work is done by analogy, and specifically, how coding is like food. In the video above, Hische calls HTML "hamburger text markup language," and then uses the analogy of a hamburger to illustrate how HTML tags actually work—i.e., the opening and closing tags are like the beginning and ending of lunch hour. "We like metaphors in general," Maschmeyer told Co.Design. "Code can be scary. Food is comforting. We think it balances well." And they keep it loose, peppering the script with deliberately cheesy lines and pictures of cats—the idea is that if they learned how to do it and they seem to be having fun with it, how hard can it be?

The series contains six videos so far—each one takes about 2-3 weeks to make from start to finish—and more are on the way. But even though serious developers won’t find much in here that they don’t already know, Maschmeyer says the real audience is for people like he and Hische used to be—creative types looking for real-world analogies and common language to explain how to design online.

See all the videos here. Please note that the site does not allow embedding because the authors want the videos seen in their original context.

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