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  1. #1
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    Learning to design?

    Well, I've been coding for years. PHP, Rails, pSQL, MySQL, JavaScript, CSS, XHTML, HTML, etc. I'd like to say I've mastered them all.

    Though, when it comes to opening Photoshop and creating something beautiful—something you'd see off of cssmania or some other CSS gallery website—I'm completely and totally useless.

    Where should I start? I've made countless trips to Barnes and Noble, looking for books on web design, but nothing seems to be really eye-catching.

    Is this something I just need to practice repeatedly before I start to develop things that don't make me (and others) want to vomit?

  2. #2
    Design Your Site Team bronze trophy Erik J's Avatar
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    Hi nkezhaya, welcometo SitePoint.

    As more devoted to useful functions than the look of a page I can give my stategy after that the functions and content are decided. Not always mandatory but I try keep a progress order. The outcome is never as pretty as by a proffesional designer, but is at least useful.

    First and checking again last, I try to place the functions/content-displays logically/intuitively, minimizing confusion.

    Adding places for logo and company info there will be different patterns giving a base for different designs.

    Going from there I give those areas dimensions and typeface and then a color scheme.

    Then background images, if possible adding understanding of the foreground.

    Then I'll start all over again a couple of times.


    I hope you find books or sites to read that helps you find a good strategy that focus what you do best.
    Happy ADD/ADHD with Asperger's

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot
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    When I first started out, I looked at dozens/hundreds of sites (eg 40-50 carpentry sites, 40-50 financial advisor sites etc) and bookmarked anything of interest. With the sites that I liked, I analysed what worked and what didn't. I then started creating my own designs in Macromedia (NOT coding - it's far quicker just doing a drawing). Note that I didn't copy sites - I just got ideas from various different sites and mulled them over to create my own design. I then did 3-4 designs for each type of site, making each design totally different. Gradually my designs improved and I now find the whole process so much easier. Good luck!

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot
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    This is a good site to get you started: http://webpagesthatsuck.com/
    About Web Pages That Suck

    Learn how bad web design kills your site

    Looking at bad web site design is valuable because it give us the opportunity to learn from other people's mistakes without having to make them ourselves.

    Winston Churchill once said, "All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes." If you go through this site and learn from all the mistakes, you will be a very, very wise web designer and be able to take a bad web site and change it into a good web site.

    Great web design is an art and occurs when design and content are seamless and you don't notice its greatness. With great web design, it's easy to find the information you need. The content makes you want to return again and again and, most importantly, great design gives credibility to the company/organization.
    There is also a book. It's been out quite a while but I think it is still available new. You could probably find a copy in the library or get a good deal on a used copy as well.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Member colorifer.com's Avatar
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    I am a designer, but I want to become the master of programming!
    My friend, be expert in PHP, Rails, pSQL, MySQL, JavaScript, CSS, XHTML, HTML, etc. and find the good designer for your projects.
    Be not sprayed.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Member
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    Thanks for the info guys/gals. How about suggestions for ad placement?

  7. #7
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Advert placement should be put in places where people can see, but they should not overcrowd or overpower the content, otherwise you may end up putting people off viewing your content, if your content is lengthy, I find putting Google ad-words down the side of the page a clean way to keep the content separate from your money making region, but it’s also placed constantly within view.

    By the way: if you want some good book recommendations on web design I recommend the following:

    • The Zen of CSS Design (Excellent book showing the CSS Zen Garden and how they built up beautiful designs – it’s the first book I ever bought on design, and I still use it to this day)
    • The Design of Sites (This is like the bible of design, it’s a huge book of design patterns and will keep you in good stead for seeing how design can work online)
    • Don’t Make Me Think (The usability bible, helpful in making sure you don’t sacrifice usability for fluidity)
    • Homepage Usability (Lots of pretty examples of websites – slightly simplistic though)


    I own all four of those books (I feel more comfortable having some offline references, lol) and can highly recommend them, I would say go to your local bookstore and check them out to see if any get your interest though first


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