KillerSites Blog

Professional Web Design

WordPress, Joomla and Drupal in Web Design

May 3, 2012

I was recently asked a question about the future of web design:

I have a short general query about the Future of Web Design: do you think that we are going towards a trend where, particularly with the use of Web environments like WordPress or Joomla, programming skills will be more and more oriented towards updating and customising plugins?

My answer:

I have been a long time believer in this strategy of using a CMS as the basis of almost all your web design projects. I wrote about this back in 2010, talking about the ‘WordPress Web Designer‘.

I use WordPress for my web sites, but Drupal and Joomla can do a great job too. You just have to figure out which one suits you best.

Learning PHP and JavaScript:

Since Drupal, Joomla and WordPress are built with PHP and JavaScript, it makes sense (if you really want to learn how to use these tools to their fullest,) that you should learn at least a little programming. You don’t have to become a full-blown nerd coder, but you should be able to write simple scripts and modify existing PHP and JavaScript code. It will make your life so much easier.

For a more detailed discussion, watch my video below:


Stefan Mischook

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Best Computer for Web Design?

November 17, 2011

I get this all the time:


You’re a nerd and professional web designer, what computer would you recommend for someone wanting to get into the web design or web programming business?

My answer:

Being a professional nerd presents many challenges, and one of them shouldn’t be fighting with your computer, viruses or installing hardware!

You also need something very fast and what most people don’t know, a huge part of a computer’s speed is not found in the processor (everyone just thinks processor!!) … no, the biggest bottleneck these days is disk access. Or as we hard-core nerds like to call it: IO.

What is IO?

IO is short for: input / output

… It is the speed of sending and receiving information to and from your computer hard disk. Hard disk speed is huge!!

So what computer has the best IO out there?

MacBook Air

Buy it and be amazed at how fast a computer can move!! Check it out:

PS: I am not a Mac/Steve Jobs fan-boy … I have an Android phone!!

Stefan Mischook

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Outsourcing and its’ Impact on Web Designers and Programmers

July 18, 2011


The one great fear any nerd has is the specter of outsourcing – will my job be outsourced to some cheaper part of the world?

Yes, free trade is really not free trade, it’s actually opening up barriers to allow big American, Canadian and European companies to ship jobs to much poorer countries so that they can save money on cheap labor.

The people who benefit are:

  • The executives of the big companies, since they can pay themselves big bonuses. Of course, they are the few who WILL NOT have their jobs outsourced!
  • The hard working people in the poorer countries – people of the west should not bear them any ill will. They are simply trying to earn a living like anyone else.
  • Bankers – who see the stock prices rise in the publicly traded corporations. In fact, it seems the big Wall Street banks were the major force behind outsourcing.

… But it is not all bad for SMART web designers and programmers working in the crumbling west. Read on and learn how!

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Web Designers Roadmap for 2011 and 2012

June 26, 2011

web designers study guide

Web Designers Roadmap
June 2011 – By: Stefan Mischook

PDF: web-designer-roadmap

The skills required in modern web design are constantly changing … that’s because the Web itself is always changing. If you want to be successful as either a web professional (web designer / programmer) or as web site owner, you have to keep up!

What to learn (as of 2011-2012) – in order of priority:

2. CSS
3. PHP basics
4. Javascript
5. JQuery
6. WordPress
7. OOP PHP (for programmers only)
8. HTML 5 and CSS 3
9. iPad / iPhone (choice of either: Objective C or HTML 5 + CSS 3)


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How to get ahead in web design.

June 7, 2011

One of my main motivations is to teach you web design skills that are practical, marketable and in the end, will make you more money. We want to teach you how to make a living with those skills.

… Yes, web design for cash is a good thing – in fact, it’s the goal for many of us!

How to beat the competition:

Though the Web is growing faster than ever before, you still have a lot of competition out there when it comes to web design jobs. In fact, there are many more web designers today than ever before. Fortunately, we have a couple of big things going for us:

  1. The Web is many times bigger than it was in the 1990’s.
  2. Like the 1990’s, the key to getting ahead of the competition is not all that hard because (as always) we have one thing on our side: laziness! Yes, people are lazy.

The more you learn, the more you earn:

The key to getting ahead is found in learning. The more you know, the easier it will be to find work, to land that contract and to charge more for your time. It is important that you as a web professional continue to develop your skills and to look to what is coming around the bend – those who jump onto the next web technology trend, will be able to monetize that upside.

… Since most people are lazy and will only learn new techniques when they absolutely have to, all you need to do to get ahead, is to continue to the learn.

So, what are the web skills for today and tomorrow?

  1. HTML 5 and CSS 3.
  2. Tablets and smart phones: iPad, iPhone, Android.
  3. CMS development: WordPress, Drupal.

More later,

Stefan Mischook

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Web Design Trends of 2011

December 30, 2010

web design trends 2011

One of the early lessons in my business life was that to make money, you had to figure out the trends going forward.

… You can’t be looking at what was popular last year and you shouldn’t pay too much attention to what might happen 5 years from now – you need to figure out what will be the in thing within the next 12-18 months.

Web Design Trends of 2011

My predictions are as follows:

  1. Android development – this means HTML5 and CSS3
  2. iOS development – this means HTML5 , CSS3 and for programmers: objective C.
  3. Small business website development – this means PHP or Ruby, Javascript/Jquery and learn a blog program like WordPress or a CMS like Drupal. Of course these days, WordPress is pretty much a CMS too.

So there you have it. Concentrate on learning one of these and you should do well this coming year.

Stefan Mischook

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Do you need to be artistic to be a great web designer?

November 14, 2010

Here’s a recent question put to me:

I would like your advice … I have NO experience at all in web design … not very artistic or good at math!! Do I need these talents to become a web designer?


Hi Teresa,

I have good news for you:

1. You don’t need to be artistic to be a great web designer.
2. You don’t need to be good at math to be web designer.

You need to learn to be organized and persistent thought.

Shameless self promotion:

If you want to save money and get extra stuff not found elsewhere, then the Complete Web Designer is the best deal … by far:

I hope that helps,


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Transitioning to Web Design and Web Development.

August 9, 2010

question about web design


Some of my best posts (at least IMHO) are derived from questions put to me by students and visitors to one of our ‘killer’ sites.


So, this time around, I have a great question from an old school Oracle developer who wants to get into the web game:

Hi Stefan,

Speaking for myself, I’m a former Oracle application and database developer (10 yrs exp) who’s looking to transition to freelance web design/development, and will likely become a subscriber to KillerSites University in short order.

My question for you is this: would I need to shell out for Dreamweaver in order to derive maximum benefit from the site’s video tutorials (HTML/CSS/JavaScript/PHP/mySQL)? Or, could I get by using a combination of free tools, such as Amaya w/TopStyle Lite?

Also, how crucial is the graphics component of web design for someone who wishes to become a web developer (ultimate emphasis on the programming side)? My artistic and spatial skills are rather limited, to put it mildly (thought modality is decidedly more verbal than visual)?

Thank you for your help.


The answer:

Hi Nick,

Dreamweaver is just an option. We use Dreamweaver to teach web design software, because it is the most widely used commercial package out there … and besides, the concepts carry forward to most other web design programs.

… But keep in mind and as you are probably aware, many web designers will use a simple text editor for much of their work.


How about designer/graphics skills?

Graphics are not necessarily important because you can leverage the many templates that are out there. Besides, if you follow a few basic design principles, you can make a simple page look good.

The truth of the matter is that still today, it is the coder/programmer who makes the big money and gets many more jobs than the average designer. The exception of course, is if you are a talented designer – then you’ll do very well too.

These two training packages are probably what you are looking for:

Complete Web Designer.

Complete Web Programmer.

This recent blog post might be interesting for you as well:


PS: do you mind if I use part of your email in a blog post? The questions are good ..



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Starting a web design business – two questions.

August 4, 2010


I recently got an email from someone asking about the skills needed to start a web design business:

1. Is it essential to know how to build DATABASE DRIVEN WEB PAGES to become a web designer?

2. Can I start my own simple web designing business without it?

My answer:


You can build a web design business without web programming skills … but it will be harder. That said, learning basic PHP and Javascript will make building your business much easier. Think about it, just about every website out there needs some Javascript and PHP functionality.

Also take into consideration that knowing how to program will allow you to get more jobs and charge more for your time.

Some links to look at:

Web Designers must Learn Programming

How much do web designers earn?

The WordPress Web Design Strategy.

Finally, if you want to be a web programmer, check out my video tutorial package on web programming.

I hope that helps.


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Can old geezers make a living in web design?

June 8, 2010

Once again, an article derived from a question put to me:

What do you offer unemployed 75-years old geezers doing a Flash self-learning approach, to maintain my sanity knowing no company, at my age, will ever offer me gainful income employment ???

Marvin G

Translation: Can old geezers make a living in web design?

Short answer: yes.

… If you train properly.

The best thing about the web design field is that it is very open and not hindered by regulation and formality that we see in many other professions.

In fact, the professional web world is one of the few meritocracies left on this planet – imagine that, skill and talent count!

… It never fails to baffle me why economists and professional stock pickers still have jobs!? Oh yea, they don’t need to produce results!

Anyway …

Flash though, may not be the best route because it is a marginalized aspect of web design and I think with the added pressure from Apple and HTML5 (that supplants some important aspects of Flash) … it will fade even more so. I am NOT saying Flash will disappear, but I think it will be used that much less.

So what is the solution?

First thing, you may want to consider being self employed web designer, start taking on web design jobs. It much more fun anyway! And 2nd, you need to learn the skills of a modern web designer … skills that are used everyday:

– Javascript

The last two on my list may scare you (programming for web designers?), but in fact, it is the key to you getting more jobs and earning more money than the next guy.


I believe that the open nature of the web design profession and the growing demand for websites, combined with some strategic web design training … and yes, geezers will not just make some extra cash, they can make a good living and on their schedule. Remember, with web design, you don’t need to go work for a company.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook

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