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Improving design skills

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#1 edoplaza


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Posted 20 February 2009 - 07:50 PM

Hello everybody,

I have a general question here. I’ve been “designing” web sites as a hobby for two years now. I started, of course, with an “all table” site and then moved to divs. Then, little by little I’ve been learning css, php, etc., but I have no formal studies on graphic design at all. For someone like me, completely devoted to music (I’m a pianist and a musicologist) this “visual” activity is becoming more and more exciting (so exciting that I can spend hours and hours searching and studying from tutorials, books, forums, etc.). The thing is that I feel I can now create “ok” sites, not ugly, as I’ve been told, but I want to reach the next level. Lately, the more I look at my sites, the uglier I find them. For example, I wish I could create beautiful sites like this:

http://w ww.operam age.com /

But I know I’d probably need to be a graphic designer or a visual artist to create such a good site (in my opinion) with elegant colors, balance, typography, etc., and I have no time to start a new career.

It’s so hard for me to just sit down and think about a whole concept after a client’s proposal! I just start playing with my computer and spend hours just to create a simple idea. Then I start asking everybody, my sister, my friends, etc., about my new “creation”.

For those who are mainly programmers and have no design background, how do you do? Do you just “become” graphic designers after creating 20 sites?

Are there any sites about web design (on how to balance colors, chose a good typography, display content, etc.?

I’d hate the idea to hire someone just because I don’t know these simple (or not that simple...) rules.

I hope I don’t sound too pessimistic :)



Edited by edoplaza, 20 February 2009 - 07:51 PM.

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#2 sarah



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Posted 21 February 2009 - 07:09 AM

Hello Eduardo,

I know that way of feeling just too well. I was always attracted to design, but the confusions of life just dragged me into different directions.
Now for some years I work as a selftaught artist and designer and sometimes I feel that the works I try to do really suck.
So what to do with that?
I think the solutions for the problem applies both to art and design.
First solution is: Go study design. In my case impossible - one son, a household, my art and eight horses keep me much too busy to even just think about it.
Second solution: Learn to find out why things suck and why they don't. It requires some practice but I guess brought down to essence it just is the same you would learn when studying design: For example, look again at the page you like and try to find out why you like it - down to every detail.
Then change some things to see what you feel about it after.
Do the same with pages you don't like.
I believe this method is harder than to "just learn the rules" but as you start to rely on your own experience it is more solid, too. You don't just copy things that someone told you are right.
Bad thing about it: You might not be able to explain your client why one thing looks better than another... then it come in handy some books to get the vocabulary of what you are doing...

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#3 edoplaza


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Posted 21 February 2009 - 08:03 AM

Thank you Sarah for your kind words!
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#4 tpattison


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Posted 21 February 2009 - 11:15 AM

Well, the simple designs can be some of the best in my opinion and although good graphic skills can help, being a good developer/programmer has far more scope in modern web design. Just think how many websites use complex server-side programming, databases, Javascript etc.

That aside, simply browsing the web for inspiration is enough and it will get easier as you create more sites.
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