Although there are some excellent tools around for building web sites, such as Adobe GoLive and Adobe (formerly Macromedia) Dreamweaver, professional code monkeys prefer to code by hand. Are they crazy masochists? Quite possibly.

When you’re itching to get started, it’s easy to overlook the most obvious step: planning. Whether it’s drawing wireframes and site diagrams in OmniGraffle or Visio, or even on a scrap of paper, you’ll save time by having an overview of your design at the site and page level before you start building. Obvious errors can be detected and solved before it’s too late to go back and it makes explaining your ideas to clients and colleagues a lot simpler than waving your hands in the air.

There’s no need to become a PHP expert to start using it in your site. If your server supports PHP, you can quickly and easily use server side includes to build a library of commonly used elements, inserting them into your web page with a simple link.

Designers love specifying type sizes in pixels because it corresponds easily and naturally with what they do in Photoshop. But as a type size specification for the web, pixels have one major disadvantage: they can’t be resized in Internet Explorer. As monitor resolutions increase, it’s not only the visually impaired who may want to increase the font size in your design, so what’s the solution?

Sooner or later you’ll come across an important bug in Internet Explorer that incorrectly calculates the width and height of block level items by including padding values within the box’s dimensions, rather than adding it outside the box. This can wreck layouts.The solution is known as the Box Model Hack, which uses another bug in IE to force it to use tags that other browsers ignore.

While Internet Explorer still dominates the browser market by a huge percentage, its lead is being gradually eroded by other browsers such as Firefox and Opera. There are also plenty of people out there still using archaic browsers like pre-Mozilla versions of Netscape.