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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Encouraging a Group of Novices

    As some of you are aware, I teach a beginning -- very beginning -- Web design class to a small, select group of middle- and high-school kids. They have no knowledge whatsoever of HTML, CSS, or Web design, though a couple of them have patched together "sites" for their MySpace pages. While they might not know a whole lot at the moment, they are very enthusiastic and learning fairly quickly.

    I'm going to display this thread to them during the next class (not quite two days from now). What I'm hoping some of you guys will do is write brief notes of encouragement that they can read. It would mean a lot for them to hear from people who live and breathe code and design (and even some who make a living at it).

    I'm asking here because this is the most supportive design forum of which I'm aware. I'm hoping some of you can spare some words for some novices who might aspire to join the ranks someday soon. I would be very, very grateful for any and all responses. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Well, first of all I want to congratulate all the students for their enthusiasm. If they keep at it, they will be very happy they did in only a short time. It doesn't take long to reach a point where you are making extra money for what you do, and being able to do it from home. And it sure beats flipping burgers and many other common jobs for teenagers.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    DV, thanks for responding. Hopefully some others will give shoutouts to the students as well.

    Side note: I do realize this is a completely shameless request. I apologize, but when I think of something good for the kids, I do it.

  4. #4
    billycundiff{float:left;} silver trophybronze trophy RyanReese's Avatar
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    Hey kids, I'm 17 and started this crpa when I was 13. I'm a senior in high school and learned it in a brief course during school. I finally realized what HTML could do and then was brought into the wonders of CSS. It's just amazing that you can get pages to do exactly what you want them to do (given some beatings for IE at some times). It takes some learning but you can make some good money for this. Like triple digits stuff. I personally do not have a job at a place yet but I'm sure your teacher will tell me don't judge my ability from my age-I'm better then a lot of professionals (gtfo Paul.. jk).

    It's fun to do and keep with it. It has to be one of the most fun things I have ever learned so keep with it. Heck try to do something your teacher couldn't. Get some extra credit maybe .
    Always looking for web design/development work.
    http://www.CodeFundamentals.com

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyanReese View Post
    Heck try to do something your teacher couldn't. Get some extra credit maybe .
    Ryan, if they keep working like they are, it won't take long for them to figure out how to do things I can't do.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    I started as a programmer and worked with that for 14 years. I came in contact with the Web quite early – wrote my first HTML page in 1993 – and was instantly fascinated by it. Over the years my job became more and more Web related, and since 2004 I've worked almost exclusively with the Web. I've never looked back.

    Although many people regard the Web as a means for making money quickly without having to do a lot of heavy lifting, I see it from a different angle. Perhaps it's because I've used it almost from the beginning, and share the ideals of the people behind it.

    I really dislike injustice and discrimination. In the brick and mortar world many people are prevented from taking a full part of everyday life because they are poor, have a different skin colour, or because they have a disability. We are now building a brave new world on the 'Net, and I love the way we can start anew and not erect those unnecessary and unfair barriers.

    It still fascinates me that I can publish an article which is read, seconds later, by someone on the other side of the world. I love how this person can get in touch with me and offer comments and critique; how we can have a dialogue and learn from one another although we've never met in real life (and probably never will).

    Whereas the programming business has grown more and more complicated, Web design is still fairly simple (although not necessarily easy). Being a professional programmer requires learning to use advanced development software, while you can make a Web page using nothing more than the simplest of text editors.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  7. #7
    The CSS Clinic is open silver trophybronze trophy
    Paul O'B's Avatar
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    There are many aspects to web design and you do need some knowledge of each aspect but you don't have to be expert in all of them. For instance its good to have a working knowledge of how the whole process fits together from the initial graphic design, then conversion to html/css and then client and server side scripting (javascript, php, sql etc.).

    There's just too much too learn to be expert in all areas but you can specialise in one area that you enjoy and that you are good at. Then gradually you can build a client base who know and utilise your skills in that area.

    These days it's better to be really good in one specific area and know that subject inside out. This is especially true on large projects where a whole team may be working on each discipline and there is no need for skills overlap although as I said you still need to know how everything fits together.

    When starting out in web design there's no need to "re-invent the wheel" and these days there's so much free information available on the web and on forums like Sitepoint that you can find guidance and answers to your problems straight away. If you do things the right way from the start then you'll save yourselves a lot of problems later on.

    There is always a right way and a wrong way to do something so "stand on the shoulders of giants" and you will reach much higher.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo
    Web design is still fairly simple (although not necessarily easy).
    Programming and design both have their fare share of different problems. To say either is more "difficult" then the other is little arrogant and misconceived. I agree in many respects that anyone can design anything today with the mass availability of the software. However, very few can arrive at a well thought and executed solutions in terms of logic and aesthetics.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by oddz View Post
    Programming and design both have their fare share of different problems. To say either is more "difficult" then the other is little arrogant and misconceived.
    When I first started programming it was fairly simple. There were no graphical user interfaces, no integrated development environments, etc. You had a text editor, a compiler and a linker, and you could understand the whole process fairly well. No code was automatically generated (except the bootstrap code by the compiler).

    Compared to today's situation where you have to spend a fair amount of time learning an IDE like Eclipse or Visual Studio, that was simple. In a typical J2EE application, a large part of the code is generated automatically by the IDE, and you have only a vague understanding of what it's doing. And configuring an application server is a challenge of its own!

    Web design is still 'simple' in those terms, but as I said, that's not the same as 'easy'. It takes a lot of learning and experience to be a good web designer. And, as Paul said, you often need some programming skills as well unless you get a specialist designer role in a large organisation.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  10. #10
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    I love the web. I first learned it a long time ago and haven't changed my idea of what I wan to do since. There is always so much to learn. If you think you have learned it all, you won't make it far in this market.

    My advice is to stick with it. Join this forum as it is the best around.

  11. #11
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Great to see this thread continuing as well as seeing stories of people who started at the same age as your students and seeing how far they have come.

  12. #12
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    Smile

    I'm a former web design and development instructor, with experience in the college classroom, the tech school, and the conference room of Fortune 500 companies.

    My advice to web design students is to be prepared, be creative, and be flexible. In this business nothing is set in stone.

    Be prepared for the client who will prefer an ugly design to aesthetics. Even if you are lucky enough to someday be your own "boss", remember that in this business you are always working for someone else, even if it's only the audience that your web site is targeting. Always have a "Plan B" .

    Be creative enough so that you never get bored with the sometimes monotonous production work of web development. Add your own little touches to everything that you produce so that you are constantly learning and proud of your work.

    Be flexible. Technologies change (in most cases for the better), Clients change their mind, Project scopes change, and if you aren't flexible enough to keep up, you'll miss the boat.

    This is the most awesome industry to work in, we are literally changing the world, one web site at a time. It sounds cliche, but if you can develop web sites, your opportunities are limitless. I wouldn't rather do anything else.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Guys, this is awesome. The kids get to read this tomorrow. Thank all of you for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm with them. If anyone else wants to add their bit, please do so.

  14. #14
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Hey to all the students in Black Max’s class! I am 25 and just turning freelance in web design and a self taught professional. It’s great to know there are people out there who want to become professionals in a career which is constantly evolving. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of languages and acronyms in use See if your teacher can remember all of the mark-up languages which are promoted by the W3C – another important acronym!

    Producing websites is both a science and an art, it requires some good technical skills and some creativity. You can get yourself a flexible job which as now pretty much everyone uses the Internet, your skills will be available for all to see. My advice to you is to learn one step at a time, remember that each language learned is something else you can add to your resume, and have fun! Being able to make a website dedicated to Homer Simpson may seem un-educational, but putting all you have learned so far into making funny but quirky designs will give you some good practice!

    Hopefully down the line some of you guys will join the forums and ask any questions you have (but don’t expect us to do all your homework for you ) And the best perk of this job is, if you get bored doing one thing (like coding HTML and CSS for a living) you could easily convert to being a usability engineer or something else with just a few months of retraining! You will never run out of job titles or specialist areas you can move across to if you feel one area is not what you were looking for in a career.

    PS: My tip of the day for you all, ask your teacher about starting a blog! You can talk about things you learn, share your knowledge with each other and get yourself involved in something online (even if you just use one of the pre hosted solutions like wordpress!).

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard Blake Tallos's Avatar
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    Heres a word of Advice. Alway's maintain ur part-time job. Unless your a CSS geek like Ryan ^. LAWLZ. First start off with little stuff designing. Use your imagination and alot of people will like your stuff and think your intresting. (Traffic) Then learn how to do complete Web Standard HTML. I'd recommend any of Sitepoint's Books.http://www.sitepoint.com/books/html2/

    Learn CSS inside and out. Really get to know it. EXPERIMENT EXPERIMENT EXPERIMENT!!!!



    Thats how I started out. When you get pretty good with that. Learn Javascript. PHP is lame. Javascript, is so much funner and when your really good with CSS & HTML you'll really understand Javascript. Theres so many Graphic Design Resources out there its unbeleivable. (Seriously) Pick up a book from Barnes and Nobles read about it. And carry it everywhere you go. After awhile you'll pick it up beleive me. And then you'll become crazy like the rest of us. You'll fall asleep dreaming about the HTML DOM and you know weird stuff like that. Hahahaha Make up a Resume tell your friends about it. Come back to Sitepoint and tell us about how much better you have become coming to this website. (Seriously) if your in and out of the forum on Sitepoint any of the forums HTML,CSS,PHP,Javascript. If you spend like 1 year or so on the forums you'll be really good. (Trust Me)
    Blake Tallos - Software Engineer for Sanctuary
    Software Studio, Inc. C# - Fanatic!
    http://www.sancsoft.com/


  16. #16
    #titanic {float:none} silver trophy
    molona's Avatar
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    Hi there

    Just a word of counsel.... Don't listen to Black Max, I have never ever interviewed him, he has never written a fantastic article about type faces and how to improve typography on the web (and of course, that didn't help me to improve my typography on the web) and he doesn't a clue what he's talking about

    Just kidding, of course.

    I am a "Jack of all trades" meaning that I can either create and build a computer from scratch, just by having the pieces, or set up a network or create a web page.

    I started to play with web pages since the web was born, but as a professional it has always been an on/off thing (depending on the jobs available at any particular moment).

    Creating web pages is quite satisfactory although a very hard work. You have to use many technologies and know at least the strong points (as well as the weak ones) to be able to choose the best technology for a particular project.

    It also needs dedication, consideration toward others (you need to think about the public you are targeting, and you need to think about how easy it is to use, and how people with difficulties will be able to navigate through it) and good organization skills (organizing information is one of the most important things in a web page). Still, it is too much fun and I love to work on the web. There is so much to experiment, so much to learn, so many things to try. The fun never ends.

    Right now I am a freelancer and I run my own business. It is not a successful one right now, it is just brand new, but give me some time and I'll teach you what I can do.

    And, please, don't think I am a boy because I am a GIRL

    Yes, girls can program and code too

    People that I admire: AutisticCuckoo, Paul O'Brien. They know lots about HTML, (X)HTML, and CSS and they wrote a fantastic CSS reference book for Sitepoint and when I get older I hope to know at least half of what they know. Besides, they are always willing to help.

    Best of luck in your classes and take care of the teacher. Black Max has been part of the community for a long time, and he had always contributed with top quality comments and ideas, as well as being willing to share his knowledge.

    PS: I think this just has been too long

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Molona, I'm glad you posted. I'll tell you just how much I liked your post after I stop blushing. The kids haven't seen it yet because it wasn't up until after the class, but I intend to share it (and anything else that gets posted) with them on Thursday. There's a girl in there who needs some sisterhood support.

    Folks, the kids were vastly impressed with the responses (and just a bit overwhelmed with some of the technical info, but that's all right, it intrigued some of them). My favorite nonsensical remark was, re Tommy: "That Norway guy, he can write English?" They've also decided that Blake is crazy, but we knew that anyway....

    Jason, some of the kids--and I--were impressed that someone with your experience and qualifications chose this venue for your first post on SitePoint. Welcome to the community, and I appreciate your involvement with my kids right off the bat.

    Thanks so much, everyone.

  18. #18
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Max View Post
    My favorite nonsensical remark was, re Tommy: "That Norway guy, he can write English?"
    It is amazing what Europeans are able to do isn’t it? Especially one who spends his day coding in syntax languages marked up using English words.

  19. #19
    #titanic {float:none} silver trophy
    molona's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Max View Post
    Molona, I'm glad you posted. I'll tell you just how much I liked your post after I stop blushing.
    No probs. I can make you blush at anytime you want

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Max View Post
    There's a girl in there who needs some sisterhood support.
    I already like her

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    No probs. I can make you blush at anytime you want
    Now I'm scared.

    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    I already like her
    She's a likable girl. I will share your comment with her today. Thanks again!

  21. #21
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Max View Post
    "That Norway guy, he can write English?"
    You can inform your class that there are currently two Viking Death Squads on their way to N.C. One is me, for calling me Norwegian. The other – larger – one is from Norway, for calling me Norwegian ...

    Actually, I love Norway, Norwegians and their language. Two days ago I listened to a 45-minute speech in Norwegian, about the new anti-discrimination law being passed over there. In Norwegian even threatening legal stuff sounds beautiful!
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  22. #22
    billycundiff{float:left;} silver trophybronze trophy RyanReese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlakeAnthony View Post
    Heres a word of Advice. Alway's maintain ur part-time job. Unless your a CSS geek like Ryan ^.
    Lol I'll take that as a compliment
    Quote Originally Posted by BlakeAnthony View Post
    LAWLZ. First start off with little stuff designing. Use your imagination and alot of people will like your stuff and think your intresting. (Traffic) Then learn how to do complete Web Standard HTML. I'd recommend any of Sitepoint's Books.http://www.sitepoint.com/books/html2/

    Learn CSS inside and out. Really get to know it. EXPERIMENT EXPERIMENT EXPERIMENT!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by BlakeAnthony View Post
    Thats how I started out. When you get pretty good with that. Learn Javascript. PHP is lame. Javascript, is so much funner and when your really good with CSS & HTML you'll really understand Javascript. Theres so many Graphic Design Resources out there its unbeleivable. (Seriously) Pick up a book from Barnes and Nobles read about it. And carry it everywhere you go. After awhile you'll pick it up beleive me. And then you'll become crazy like the rest of us. You'll fall asleep dreaming about the HTML DOM and you know weird stuff like that. Hahahaha Make up a Resume tell your friends about it. Come back to Sitepoint and tell us about how much better you have become coming to this website. (Seriously) if your in and out of the forum on Sitepoint any of the forums HTML,CSS,PHP,Javascript. If you spend like 1 year or so on the forums you'll be really good. (Trust Me)

    I wouldn't say PHP is lame-a lot o fpeople use that as their server side language-I do. I learned all that I know by just reading forum posts. Literally.
    Always looking for web design/development work.
    http://www.CodeFundamentals.com

  23. #23
    #titanic {float:none} silver trophy
    molona's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    You can inform your class that there are currently two Viking Death Squads on their way to N.C. One is me, for calling me Norwegian. The other – larger – one is from Norway, for calling me Norwegian ...


    Quote Originally Posted by BlakeAnthony
    Thats how I started out. When you get pretty good with that. Learn Javascript. PHP is lame.
    Why is PHP lame? Since when a client-side language can be compared to a server side language? Javascript is limited by the capability of the browser and it has been created for a particular goal in mind, while PHP was created to do something completely different and that's what it is good at. I don't really think that they can be compared to each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlakeAnthony
    Javascript, is so much funner and when your really good with CSS & HTML you'll really understand Javascript.


    Quote Originally Posted by BlakeAnthony
    And then you'll become crazy like the rest of us.
    That goes without saying

    Off Topic:

    @Black Max: Sorry, couldn't resist myself to answer Blake. But if your students decide that they want to participate in the forum, they rather get use to threads that drift and crazy people like us

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    You can inform your class that there are currently two Viking Death Squads on their way to N.C. One is me, for calling me Norwegian. The other – larger – one is from Norway, for calling me Norwegian ...
    Tommy, I told them Sweden, but the kid (whichever one it was) got confused. I was impressed that he actually knew Norway was near Sweden -- this crowd could just have likely thought you were from France, or Patagonia, or Mars. Calling you "the guy from Norway" just made me laugh that much harder. Send those death squads, Mrs. Max will feed them Southern barbecue. Well, you, anyway, the Norwegians can go scrounge.

    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    @Black Max: Sorry, couldn't resist myself to answer Blake. But if your students decide that they want to participate in the forum, they rather get use to threads that drift and crazy people like us
    Most of them are used to MySpace "forums," but those usually degenerate into "sexting" or profanity contests of one sort or another. I'm not sure any of them are ready to leap into the rather rarefied atmosphere of SP just yet, though they know the invitation stands. You guys were terrific with them, thanks again! (And Molona, your bit to my only female student brought a huge smile to her face.)

  25. #25
    #titanic {float:none} silver trophy
    molona's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Max View Post
    (And Molona, your bit to my only female student brought a huge smile to her face.)
    I am smiling too


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