Lynda Weinman is my hero
In honour of Ada Lovelace Day, I want to share my admiration and awe for a woman who clearly shares my deepest passions - design, computers, teaching and humour: Lynda Weinman. I first encountered Lynda way back in 1996, when I was learning how to code HTML to create these new-fangled things called web pages. At that time, it was rare to see a beautifully-designed web site that actually worked, as people were only just getting to grips with the technology and its limitations. Along came a book that changed my life: Designing Web Graphics, by none other than Lynda Weinman. This was the first book to tackle web technology from the visual perspective, while still keeping usability and functionality at the forefront. Introducing such concepts as the web-safe colour palette to the masses, it really set the standard and became a rapid bestseller. Shortly after I absorbed the contents of this 'bible', I came across Creative HTML Design, another brilliant book by Lynda (and her brother) that combined the technical with the aesthetic. I referred to this book for years - so often that the spine broke and the pages were all tattered by the time the technology advanced enough to make it obsolete. But I still think many of the concepts in the book apply today.
Whereas most technology books of the time were filled with authoritative, cold, bland language, Lynda's writing used a tone that made it feel like she was in the room chatting to you, reassuring you, and making you laugh along with her. I think it was this warm, personable approach that set her apart and led to her lasting popularity. Reading her books, you never felt like an idiot, but instead felt part of an exciting learning journey, with the most amazing coach.
Lynda also created a fantastic reference website to accompany her writings: lynda.com. Back in the late 90s, the site was my most frequently-visited bookmark, where I turned for advice on colurs, layouts, coding and web standards, as well as great tutorials on software such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Over the years, lynda.com has evolved to become *the* place to go to learn about not just web technology and graphic design software, but also video, photography, animation, games development and now even databases and business applications. I bought my husband a subscription to the video tutorials one year as a gift, and he quickly became a Lynda addict, too.
Today, it's rare to meet a web designer, developer or anyone working with graphics who hasn't heard of lynda.com - and rightly so. For the last 13 years, whenever anyone has asked me for advice on how to learn most anything to do with design and digital media, I tend to send them to lynda.com (or Peachpit Press, another wonderful resource for DIY education, who published some of Lynda's books). I think Lynda Weinman has been the single most influential person on my working life, even though I have never even met her. I reckon if I ever did meet her, I might have to ask her what her favourite web-safe colour is... mine's #00BFFF.