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Thinking about my future


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Hello Killer sites,


I recently subscribed to killer sites tutorials after friend told me about this site. I hope to learn as much as I can before I hid the job market. I was wondering, what are some ways I can improve my portfolio, or increase my likelihood of landing my dream job? What do employers look for?


I've done several courses at VTC, Lynda.com and now starting here. I am certified XHTML and CSS at w3 schools, which I think is a decent start. I'm 17 years old and currently still in high school getting my education. I plan on attending a college, still not real sure about which one, yet.


So maybe you can enlighten me as to what I should focus on? I am aware that certifications greatly help, but I simply can't afford to be getting certified in every language. I am currently saving up for college.




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Certificates mean nothing here where I live. The world is filled with people waving certificates back and forth and when pushed once hired can't deliver. Go with a solid experience with many well done jobs and an impressive portfolio.


As I would always hire a person with a solid portfolio over a person that only can show me a certificate.

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I agree with krillz above... Don't worry so much about certifications, or frankly, even fancy college degrees to some extent. In my experience, if you are experienced and good at what you do, the exact diplomas or certifications mean little.


That said...

-- Do take college level classes on web design related topics. If you're interested in the coding side of things (HTML, CSS, server side languages like PHP) take computer science courses. They may not be directly related to web programming (for example, in my Comp Sci courses I'm learning Java and C++), but a lot of the concepts and coding patterns you learn will be directly applicable (object oriented programming, MVC, etc) and will be incredibly useful if you move into PHP and other server side languages. If you are interested in design, take design related classes, covering both the basic principles of design and design programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.

-- Make sure you have a broad spectrum of skills. Not that you have to be expert at everything, but in addition to obviously knowing HTML and CSS, be familiar with javascript, perhaps something like jQuery, PHP, a content management system, etc. Just about everyone knows HTML and CSS. What other skills can you bring to the table?

-- In my experience, most people are either programmers (code oriented, but can't really design) or designers (can make pretty designs, but their code skills are lacking). Being able to do both -- and do both well -- is a useful skill and really increases your earning potential. This doesn't work for everyone though, some people just aren't design oriented. If you're not, just focus on being the best you can be with whatever you are interested in.

-- Try to always be learning on your own. For example, at the web company I work for, we are primarily ASP.NET/Windows based company, but my skills with Wordpress (PHP/Linux based) that I learned on my own have recently come in handy as some of our clients are asking for Wordpress blogs. This has put me in the position where I'm the "expert" in the company at Wordpress, increasing my value to the company and ultimately my earning potential as well.

-- Build a solid portfolio of work, even if it means working for free/low fees initially. If you have trouble finding people to work with, think about doing personal projects, working with friends or a family member, a club or organization at school, or finding a local non-profit that might need some web related help.

-- Focus on quality over quantity. Try to build things that you are proud of and show off your skills in specific areas (though, if you are working with clients, make sure to fill their needs!) Show yourself to be reliable and responsible (especially important because of your age).

-- Have business cards on you at all times. Talk to people about what you do, including friends, family and acquaintances. Learn to explain what you do and promote yourself.

-- Make sure you have a website you can direct people to, and that it is attractive and positively shows off your work. Spend the necessary amount of time on it so you can use it as a sales tool. If you aren't design oriented but want a well designed portfolio site, consider trading services with someone who has design skills, using a template, or paying someone to come up with the site design.

-- be active online in web related communities. Post on forums, read blogs, write about topics you're passionate about, interact with other designers/developers via Twitter, etc.

-- if you can, be active offline as well. Keep an eye out for local groups who meet to discuss web topics, even if they talk about things you don't have much knowledge of. Perhaps this isn't a possibility at the moment due to money constraints, but keep an eye out for web design related conferences in your local area. They often offer greatly reduced student prices (depends on the conference of course) and are a good way to learn and network with others.


Also, take a look at this topic: http://www.killersit...esign-business/

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Welcome to KillerSites JFab!


I want to reemphasize that certification is not important ... when compared to a strong portfolio. So keep learning and keep building web sites and web applications.


Also, it is VERY important to stay ahead of the curve, try to figure out where the market will be in say 2-3 years and then concentrate on that. For example: now is a good time to know how to install, configure and skin Wordpress and/or some other popular CMS like Drupal or Joomla. Why? Because the future of web design is going to grow around using these types of programs, they will act as the basis of many websites - maybe even most websites in the not so distant future.


Another thing I think all web designers should learn, is a Javascript library like JQuery or Scriptaculous. Why? Because most websites these days need dynamic elements, fancy widgets ... a little Ajax action. Because of the above, I've been preaching for a few years that web designers have to learn PHP and Javascript - they are in my opinion, as important as HTML and CSS.




Web designers who leap ahead and learn these things, will outshine the rest and get more jobs and ultimately get paid more. And that of course will lead to more and better looking dates!







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Thanks Krillz, falkencreative, and Stef!


I appreciate your responces very much. I have a lot of ideas on the table as to what I wish to learn. Thus far I plan on learning how to install a few CMS engines, Javascript (which I studied for a while before), PHP and the study of web usability. I want to make my pages both designed properly & coded well, as mentioned above. I would also like to study web accesability (making webpages available for handycapped) as well.


To make a proper portfolio, how should I format it? I currently have what courses I have taken here at my high school web design based, and a few courses i've taken online. I'm yet to do any free-lance work because I seem to get shuved aside when the time comes to pick a designer. I am going to be creating a portfolio website shortly, which I plan to put all of what I know onto it as documentation.


I wanted to attend Full Sail university, however it is quite expensive and from the tune of many forums - it isn't well liked. I would be paying them back till the day I died :P


I've used a few popular editors, most credibly Adobe Dreamweaver. However, I am [ironicly] in Frontpage class. I think i'll get to know a few editors and CMS systems.



Thanks for the advice!



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  • 1 month later...

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