The first shock I got when reviewing the modern trends was that HTML tables are out of fashion! The second shock I got was the separation of HTML and CSS (with the help of CSS2 and CSS3) to the extent that you don't see any style markup in well developed sites (Hint: look at the page source).
Another significant shift is the plethora of client side scripting frameworks. It's really difficult to decided which one to choose. In fact, web development jobs now require you to know at the least one of prototype, script.aculo.us, jQuery, MooTools, etc.
I started looking deeper and found that the first thing an old-timer should do is to learn CSS, and there is no better place to start then the concise book, CSS Mastery. A runner up would be The Art and Science of CSS.
Much of what has to be learned is seeing how others have done a particular gimmick. I found the following sites to contain very nice articles on page layout in general and CSS in particular:
- A List Apart is really a list apart
- CSS Zen Garden, which practially demonstrated the possibility of real separation of content from style
- Web Development Handbook is a single resource for all web development related articles/ tools
- Smashing Magazine's Powerful CSS Techniques for Effective Coding
- One of the several Web 2.0 site generators which started as a mockery and turned out to be a little useful for the starters
Happy Web Development! This is how the web should have been from day zero (yeah, I am a C++ programmer).