- Tips for the new web designer.

Tips for the New Web Designer

Also available in SPANISH

This first article is meant to provide some helpful tips for those just learning to build websites. I am not going to go into details explaining specific technology; rather I am going to point out a few things that many people just starting may find useful.

Learn (at least) some basic HTML.

Whenever I suggest this to beginners they always ask why they should learn to code HTML when we have programs like Dreamweaver and FrontPage that do it all for you? The short answer is that they don't, at least not all the time. While these programs are very useful (and I highly recommend that all web page designers learn to use one), they do have their limitations where it can be easier to hand code the HTML yourself. If you don't know HTML, this can be a problem. You don't have to learn everything there is about HTML, but you should learn the basics and some key tags that are used all the time:

<a href=””></a> : The link tag is the most important tag there is. HTML is all about linking documents (web pages) together and as such they form the basis of making the web work.

<table> </table> : The table tag is used to create tables. Originally it was invented to present data (like a stock report) in tabular form. Soon after, inventive HTML designers started to use them to format the entire web page by inserting not only text but also images into tables. Today 99% of web pages are formatted using tables.

<div></div> : Div tags allow you to demark a portion of your page so that you can do things to it. Another way of saying ‘demark a portion’ can be ‘to put into a container’. Once a part of your web page is in this <div> container, you can do all kinds of stuff like style it, animate it, make it visible or invisible etc … Div’s represent the next generation of formatting HTML pages that is in many ways superior to tables.

Learn one *wysiwyg program like DreamWeaver or GoLive and learn it well.

Each of these programs has its advantages and you may be tempted to jump from one to another because of some neat thing that it does. Often you find when you are using the new program, that you miss features of the old one that you rely on. So you should stick to one and really learn it well. This will go a long way to making you a productive web designer.

Keep your web pages simple.

Once you start to understand how to make web pages, you will be tempted to go all out with animated gifs, rollover affects, and fancy designs. The problem with this is that it can easily lead to confusing pages for the viewer and hard to maintain sites for you. Web sites are always in need of changing and updating. You will be thankful when that inevitable day comes and you have an easy to update modular site to work with instead of an inflexible over-designed mess.

If you liked the article and you want to see more let me know!

Stefan Mischook

*. wysiwyg stands for: 'what you see is what you get.'

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