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ThinkCoffee
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Hi all,

 

I've been lurking for a while (stalker! lol)

 

I'm an experienced Print Graphic designer just beginning into the world of web design. Wow, what a difference. One pet peeve... I'm a typography geek and the web doesn't quite seem to give the nuances or control I am used to in the print industry.

 

k.. rant over (one kudo, stock images are cheaper at smaller sizes!)

 

My question is this. I have NO web training.. zero. I am a designer, not a programmer, but need to expand to stay current and be competitive. I will be learning this on my own as going back to school is out of my budget, in time as well as cash. I have Dreamweaver and all other CS5 programs (Mac), and am experienced in all except Dreamweaver and Flash.

 

There's so much to learn and I'm beginning to recognize html code and some css code, but I'm learning that's just the basics. There's security, databases, scripting to get the html to do stuff.

 

What should I be sure to learn? What's necessary to provide my clients (mostly smaller businesses) with sites that will perform as they want them to and not be a nightmare (I've heard stories).

 

What languages/programs are essential?

 

How does Wordpress work?

 

Thanks

 

ThinkCoffee (the only thing that designers actually imbibe - on duty! lol)

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Welcome to the forum!

 

No, the web has a lot less typographic control, which is partly due to the fact that people view the web on a wide variety of devices, with different browsers, different screen sizes/resolutions, different features, etc. It isn't quite like print, where you know exactly how users will view it. You still can control a lot of the basics, but you won't get fine-grained control over things unless you are a bit obsessive and spend a lot of time doing fiddly changes.

 

I would start by getting a strong foundation in HTML and CSS, since that's what the web is built on. Once you have that under your belt (and I'd highly suggest you learn to hand code initially, rather than using Dreamweaver to help you and you not actually learning this stuff) then look at topics like Javascript and PHP/Databases, etc. Once you have a foundation in those topics, then look at some sort of content management system that will give your clients the power to edit their websites themselves, rather than having you do everything manually.

 

Wordpress is a PHP/MySQL (for the database) based system that gives the website a administrative backend and makes it easier for clients to control their site. It has a pretty large user base, and there are a lot of tutorials/themes out there. It may not always be the best solution for every project, but it definitely is one of the more popular content management systems out there.

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Thank you for the concise advice

 

ahh... cms, okay - I was wondering how that worked. I wasn't looking forward to endless emails to update sites FOREVER...

 

I will have to look into that.. umm... cms thing.

 

I've been working on a couple of sites and am FORCING myself to edit the code instead of the design view. It's hard as I am a visual learner but I can see that if I don't understand the code and learn how to visualize what it's doing I won't be able to fix issues when they come up. Yes, great advice! It's hard for an old designer like me not to try to edit on the design view though... I've done PASTE-UP and hand lettering/ illustration for crikey's sake.

 

who says an old dog can't learn new tricks!

 

Do Javascript and PHP perform the same basic functions? (it seems so to me) If so which one would be better? I understand that Javascript is a user-based engine and PHP is a server based - but do they do basically the same thing? (I'm really not interested in rainbows following the cursor or other eyesores like that lol) But databases for merchants seems to be necessary, as are the security features inherent in scripting. (Math was never my strong suit - *sigh*)

 

I appreciate any advice and am learning a lot here.. great site!

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Javascript and PHP have some overlap, but the main difference is that Javascript is a client-side language, while PHP is a server side language. Specifically, Javascript works within the visitor's browser (and thus the user can choose to enable/disable Javascript, can modify your Javascript within the page, etc.) PHP works on the server, which the visitor has no access to (and thus is generally more secure.) Javascript is immediate, and can add additional effects within the page (dropdown menus, sliders, animations, etc.) whereas PHP generally requires a page refresh, unless you are talking about AJAX, which uses Javascript to execute PHP code... but I don't want to confuse you. ;)

 

There are thankfully a lot of resources available online -- the courses that KillerSites offers, Lynda.com, free videos on NetTuts and similar sites -- so there isn't a huge barrier to enter the web field. Just takes some time and hopefully a bit of talent/affinity for coding.

 

As I said above, hold off on learning something like PHP or a CMS system until you are feeling a bit more confident with basic HTML/CSS. All CMS systems are built on some sort of server-side language like PHP, so having some PHP experience (or whatever language the CMS is built in) is pretty helpful when you're starting out.

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Tip one - get the basivs and then go for programming like PHP. Much of it will ring a bell with you if you learn stuff like scripting languages first (Java Script, Flash Action script).

 

Tip 2 - Change your name. A true programmer/developer would have a name like "Drinks Coffee" rather than just thinking about coffee. Once you are good and get into programming, change your name to "Drinks LOTS of Coffee" biggrin.gif

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Thanks so much

 

It's all very helpful... it can be a little confusing and there seems to be no shortage of programs or languages out there.

 

How far will html and css take me as a web designer though? I guess the question is what are the limitations of just using those two for client sites. So much to learn!

 

I'm glad I have a good solid design background - the message is the most important thing. Bells and whistles aren't any good if the message gets lost or is illegible, or annoying.

 

I've read this elsewhere on the forums here but I have to agree that audio is extremely annoying to me as a consumer as I usually have my own music on, or silence. I think I'll steer potential clients away from that if possible. and blinky things..aaaargh!

 

I appreciate the advice

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How far will html and css take me as a web designer though? I guess the question is what are the limitations of just using those two for client sites. So much to learn!

It'll take you a majority of the way there. However, I think you'll quickly find that clients want and expect additional functionality other than just a simple static website. In many cases, they may want animations, rollover effects, slideshows, etc that you'll need to know some Javascript for, as well as contact forms and systems that will allow them to maintain/update their own website that will require PHP. Exactly what you need to know depends to some extent on who your clients are and their expectations. A small two person business will most likely have very different expectations from a mid-sized company.

 

However, keep in mind that you don't always have to know everything yourself. A lot of the work I do personally as a freelancer comes from other designers/developers who either don't have the skills to do something that needs to be done, or are simply too busy to do it themselves. Building a network of people who have complimentary skills is often extremely helpful, so you have speople to turn to if you need something done that you can't accomplish yourself.

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I was wondering about that... working with others who may have skills I don't. Do you charge for that like you would if you hired a photographer?

Yes. Hopefully when you are initially talking with the client about the project, you will get an idea of the size of the project and what you may need help on, and can build the cost of any freelancers into the quote. As a general rule (at least I don't) I wouldn't bill the client directly for that cost, you just include it in what you charge. The client shouldn't need to even know that you are working with a freelancer.

 

One thing to keep in mind though... If you do accept a project that you will need additional help with, don't wait until the last minute to try to find someone to help you. Definitely contact whoever you have in mind early on in the process to get a general quote for the work so you can build it into your own estimate and figure out if they will be available before you sign a contract with the client. I get a surprising number of people contacting me saying basically "I accepted this job, but I have no idea how to accomplish what the client is wanting. I have a week to get this huge project finished. Can you help me?" That just makes the designer/developer look like they are poor planners. Even if the designer/developer finds a freelancer for that job, it's probably going to involve significant costs since the freelancer basically has to drop everything they are currently doing just for that project.

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  • 3 months later...

Welcome to the forum!

 

No, the web has a lot less typographic control, which is partly due to the fact that people view the web on a wide variety of devices, with different browsers, different screen sizes/resolutions, different features, etc. It isn't quite like print, where you know exactly how users will view it. You still can control a lot of the basics, but you won't get fine-grained control over things unless you are a bit obsessive and spend a lot of time doing fiddly changes.

 

I would start by getting a strong foundation in HTML and CSS, since that's what the web is built on. Once you have that under your belt (and I'd highly suggest you learn to hand code initially, rather than using Dreamweaver to help you and you not actually learning this stuff) then look at topics like Javascript and PHP/Databases, etc. Once you have a foundation in those topics, then look at some sort of content management system that will give your clients the power to edit their websites themselves, rather than having you do everything manually.

 

Wordpress is a PHP/MySQL (for the database) based system that gives the website a administrative backend and makes it easier for clients to control their site. It has a pretty large user base, and there are a lot of tutorials/themes out there. It may not always be the best solution for every project, but it definitely is one of the more popular content management systems out there.

 

Hey Ben,

 

Really good to know about that you are very much eager to learn the HTML and CSS. There are a lot of site which give the good learning solution of beginner. Even word press is good example of this. Where the new version of Wordpress have good CSS and Jquery features available of it.

You can refer these links :http://htmldog.com/ and http://www.htmldog.com/guides/cssbeginner/

 

Thank u

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