In order to become the best, you have to learn from the best. Here are some great resources for learning essential web design elements.
Jquery is an essential tool in web design. This site has become like a bible to me. I reference it almost daily when writing WordPress Plugins, slideshows, etc…
W3 Schools is a great resource for CSS. I thought I knew everything about CSS, but learned much more after visiting this site.
Once again, we go to w3 schools as a great reference point for HTML 5. They lay everything out for you and show several examples.
This link may be the most essential in this list. Bookmark this link. This is a manual that explains every single aspect of PHP script.
This page is a great resource for designers looking to broaden their knowledge. CGI scripts are great to know for writing upload/client-side programs.
Although I advise designers to veer away from flash for SEO purposes, it is still a valuable resource and great for making things like product displays, etc…
Search Engine Optimization is a must in the design world. If you do not implement SEO as you are designing, then you are not designing a website properly. I found this nifty site that helps to define what SEO is and how to implement it.
Once you learn the basics of SEO, there are some must-have tools that hubspot has put out there for free like website grader, blog grader, etc…
The best way to learn to build a great website is to start with a great frame. I started out with using themes & templates to see how other designers coded them before attempting to write my own. I manipulated them to see what worked and what didn’t, what files to edit, etc… Themeforest has great themes & templates, great support and they are affordable. I suggest buying one, manipulating it, then trying to build your own based off that theme/template.