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  1. #1
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    Learning Web Desgin

    I did a little web page design a few years ago, but haven't tuched it since. I am going to be starting school this fall and taking a IT/Web Programmer major. It is based on Java, .Net, SQL, and a few other technologies.

    In the mean time I would like to start learning some things before I start college. I want to try and get a jump start on stuff I may have to know for class.

    I am wondering what I need to learn, and what are the current versions. I know a tiny bit of HTML. I tried to learn CSS a few years ago, it was fairly easy but I never took the time to learn much.

    I don't think that my course will teach me much about graphic design and putting things together in that manner. I see that almost every single person here uses Photoshop. Why does everyone go with that program? What is so much better about it then Paint Shop, which is far less then half the price? I've used Paint Shop in the past and liked it. I've never even understood how to create a new image in Photoshop, it was too complicated.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy Slackr's Avatar
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    Photoshop is vastly UNDER-used by the majority of those who use it. It is a very powerful tool and capable of a lot, thus why it is an industry standard. The fact it is an industry standard will always make it more popular but for your purposes and stage if you can create optimised images for the web from whatever programme you use then that's one less thing you have to learn.

    Having said that if you get a job in the industry you are likely to have access to Photoshop and Fireworks so it may be worth learning now before the pressure of term time hits. There are tons of free tutorials online and sites for inspiration.

    I'm of the mind that if I know what I want to create and how, then I should be able to use whatever tool is in front of me to achieve it. Photoshop typically just makes that easier.

    You could always check out what your papers are going to cover, most educational facilities have at least a brief summary of what you will be learning.

  3. #3
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    I haven't done any web programming in a long time, what is the most current versions of stuff like HTML, CSS, that I should learn, and what tools to website designers normally use? Last time I learned to write HTML I was following a book by using Notepad, but that seems like it would take for ever to create a real website with many pages, and have everything look correctly in the end.

    I also heard that most designer create the entire website as an image in Photoshop first, and then somehow cut the image up with Photoshop, so that the pages are acrually created in a paint program, but then chopped up and simply loaded into the real web page in the correct spots.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy Slackr's Avatar
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    Things have likely exploded in the techniques and languages available since you last looked at things online. There are now niche markets for designers, UI, scripting, databases etc etc. Just take a look around the other forums here! Most people end up learning the tools that they're forced to use in a job. But creating websites isn't what it used to be.

    The technique of using photoshop to skin a website and have the code be generated for you using the exporting functions are still possible. But the implementation of a skin doesn't necessarily have to be in HTML. The company I work for uses a photoshop skin that is then sliced up and implemented in PHP by a custom written CMS.

    I've not learned pure coding HTML or any other language, but I know enough code to use and modify Joomla, Wordpress, generate templates and apply them in Dreamweaver, use photoshop to create and optimise images, research use and modify online resources, plugins, etc etc. I'd guess that there a lot of people like me that have been around for years using and adapting to what comes along.

  5. #5
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    KPC, The most recent versions of HTML and CSS are HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.1 (with mixed support) and CSS 2.1 however be forewarned that HTML5, XHTML 2.0, CSS 3 are all floating about in testing or early bleeding edge forms. While you can produce a website using Photoshop and while notepad can indeed be time consuming, hand coding is still unfortunately the only reliable way you can make sure that what you produce will work across a variety of browsers. Remember that browsers use a different rendering engine which means that sometimes, glitches can be browser specific (everyone looks at IE). I would always recommend learning to hand code to understand the craft of making websites, then you will be able to deal with anything thrown at you.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict operator's Avatar
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    I'd recommend learning Javascript now so you will be able to jump right into AJAX development asap.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Member stevejeff's Avatar
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    Learning scripting languages + strong knowledge in php+xml/html will help you a lot !

  8. #8
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Building a website out of a sliced Photoshop image is for people who don't know how to write (HTML) code, and don't have to worry about things like accessibility or server load or bandwidth. There are exceptions, but generally a completely automagically sliced-and-diced site is larger in terms of loading than one done by someone who indeed knows something like PS, but also knows CSS and HTML very well and can write both by hand (knowing how to do it by hand doesn't mean you can't use a tool like Dreambeaver to speed things up for you). Programs like Photoshop exist to edit images, not to write HTML (and at least the older PS's threw out steaming piles of tables with their slices, not sure if that's still true but it's ugly ugly code).

    Re Photoshop: it's for the rich. I use GIMP. Da po' man's photoshop, also with about a hundred thousand features, tools and scripts I never touch : ) But unless you've invested a LOT of time learning Paint Shop Pro, if evertwhere you go is using PS then it may be a good idea to learn it. The tools themselves are pretty similar (everyone has a pen, a brush, and all the colour logs and things) but the keyboard shortcuts of each program are where you can really speed through an image.

    If you're going to focus on back-end programming like .NET and Javva-da java, you may never touch an image, other than to resize it or crop it, that that can be done in the back-end as well, with something like ImageMagick.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    I would always recommend learning to hand code to understand the craft of making websites, then you will be able to deal with anything thrown at you.
    I'll second that!

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    I'm a professional writer who's been studying web deisgn on the side for years, and it blows me away. There are so many principles and technologies to learn, and it's amazing how the simplest things are never as simple as they seem.

    I'd strongly recommend that you invest in Adobe Creative Suite, if you can afford it. If you're a student in the U.S., you can probably get a student discount.

    Their web design suite includes Dreamweaver, the industry standard for web design, and Photoshop, the industry design for graphics. It also includes two other graphics programs - Illustrator and Fireworks, along with Flash, which is extremely popular right now. You could probably spend a lifetime just mastering all those software programs.

    Sadly, I've still never found time to really learn JavaScript. However, I've adopted JQuery, an extremely popular JS library that's pretty easy to implement.

    Anyway, Adobe Creative Suite is like a Mac - very expensive but one of the best investments you'll ever make over the long run.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geosite View Post
    I'd strongly recommend that you invest in Adobe Creative Suite, if you can afford it. If you're a student in the U.S., you can probably get a student discount.
    Personally I wouldn't recomend Dreamweaver, having used it for many years I now worship those who showed me the light of pure coding it. If I were you I'd go about it in the way I personally did it - it worked excellently.


    1. Sitepoint Book - How to build your own website the right way using html and css
    2. Bulletproof Web Design - Dan Cederholm
    3. Web Standerds Solutions - Dan Cederholm
    4. Sitepoint Book - Build your own database driven website using PHP and MySQL

    Only now hvae I (literally just 2 mins ago) taken delivery of the books that I wish to use in order to improve my web application designa dn to learn jQuery with.

  12. #12
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    in the code part, a really good place to start its h t t p : / / w w w . w 3 s c h o o l s . c o m /
    it have really good intro to *almost any* basic technology.


    at design part
    , well thats not my place xD ... i tell my girlfriend or any friend if they can give me a hand.

    but if have to do things by my own, i prefer to draw by hand, and then make the HTML structure esqueleton. and apply css to it.
    ( about css stuff application, i really recomend h t tp : / / w w w . csszengarden . c o m /

    links w/o spaces: some antispam thing dont let me put it in the right way :S

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot zainabSULE's Avatar
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    No new stuff can prepare u for the task of being a web designer. All I can tell you is that 'be ready to learn!!!'

    Z

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgroves View Post
    Personally I wouldn't recomend Dreamweaver, having used it for many years I now worship those who showed me the light of pure coding it. If I were you I'd go about it in the way I personally did it - it worked excellently.
    Knowing how to hand code is indeed very important - but you can do that with Dreamweaver, too. I think a lot of advanced web designers eventually move on from Dreamweaver, but I can't imagine a better tool for a beginner/intermediate web designer. And if you're thinking of employment, there are a lot of jobs that require Dreamweaver skills.

  15. #15
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    I would likely refuse any job that required me to go from hand-coding to dreambeaver. All the things that make it "faster" like writing your code for you, should be turned off in the first place (and how are you supposed to know how to correctly configuer DW if you aren't already a knowledgable coder??) and the other stuff, any other editor already offers, for free. I would say DW is better as a tool AFTER you've learned how to code.

    If you already have DW and you are learning while having a boss that requires you use it... well, good luck (meant seriously).

  16. #16
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    I used Photoshop because it is very easy to use or learn it. There are lots of resources on the internet that can help you get things done in Photoshop. CSS is very important to learn. Whenever you start your website developing education, never use Why You See Is What You Get programs because it won't help in memorizing the codes. It is good that you add MySQL and PHP 5 to your education because it is very important to learn.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Enthusiast flashmind's Avatar
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    I agree photoshop is the best in my opinion, however I started with fireworks back in the day when Macromedia still owned them.
    These are the best tools in my opinion for web design
    - Adobe Dreamweaver
    - Adobe Photoshop / Fireworks


    Start small and work up. I self taught myself web design as well before I went to college. I suggest using tutorials and lots of them. Whether it is book tutorials or video tutorials all helps all the time.

  18. #18
    Non-Member Musicbox's Avatar
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    you can download frontpage or coolpage or any other auto page creater and start running your webpage online.

    i suggest you to start learning with html if you have time but design matters remember.

  19. #19
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    i would recommend Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and if you have more time get your hands on Illustrator...also always go for Video tutorials...books or written stuff can slow you down

  20. #20
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    I recommend (most of) the readinglist of the personal design degree.
    I can't post the url unfortunateley but it's personaldesigndegree plus dot com ;o)
    If you google on personal design degree you will find it as well

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by geosite View Post
    I'm a professional writer who's been studying web deisgn on the side for years, and it blows me away. There are so many principles and technologies to learn, and it's amazing how the simplest things are never as simple as they seem.
    I'm finding the same thing, and that it's important not to get overwhelmed, but only focus on the things that I want to learn for my specific purposes.

    I've held off on learning Dreamweaver, because I've read enough to see that it's a better investment for me to create a dynamic site, rather than a static one. Popular sites will probably all have some type of social media integrated into them in the future.
    Kent, Beyond Touring
    Family Vacation Ideas

  22. #22
    SitePoint Addict skunkbad's Avatar
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    From my experience looking through the job ads, it seems that employers want you to know everything and then some. You should master HTML, XHTML, CSS, and then move on to Javascript, PHP, MySQL, XML, Apache, Regular Expressions, Web Standards Theory, SEO, etc. This is just the beginning.... Amazon is your friend.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by btouringkr View Post
    I'm finding the same thing, and that it's important not to get overwhelmed, but only focus on the things that I want to learn for my specific purposes.

    I've held off on learning Dreamweaver, because I've read enough to see that it's a better investment for me to create a dynamic site, rather than a static one. Popular sites will probably all have some type of social media integrated into them in the future.
    I use Dreamweaver, and most of my sites are dynamic (content management systems). Of course, I do a lot of hand-coding, so I wouldn't say Dreamweaver is a prerequisite. I've never used anything but Dreamweaver, so it's difficult for me to make comparisons.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by skunkbad View Post
    From my experience looking through the job ads, it seems that employers want you to know everything and then some. You should master HTML, XHTML, CSS, and then move on to Javascript, PHP, MySQL, XML, Apache, Regular Expressions, Web Standards Theory, SEO, etc. This is just the beginning.... Amazon is your friend.
    HTML is pretty much a given for most freelance/IT positions, and I think CSS is pretty much assumed, too. Fortunately, they're just about the easiest things to learn in this business.

    The ads I've been perusing suggest that Flash is big, and there are frequent calls for experience with WordPress or Joomla.

    What blows my mind is the number of ads requesting experience in things I've never even heard of. How can a person keep up?

  25. #25
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    The thing is, you rarely if ever see anyone who is very good at all those things.

    You CAN do Flash and Javascript and HTML and CSS and PHP and turdpress and all that... but either your Javascript will be bloated, or your PHP will be insecure, or your Flash films will be much larger than what a pro can put out (file-size wise) or your HTML will be all <div id="topwrap"><div id="top"><div id="headerl"><div id="headerr"><div id="headerm"><h1><a href="home.html"><img src="logo.jpg" alt=""></a></h1></div></div></div></div></div> and dunno what's wrong with that, it's valid isn't it?

    And, someone who CAN do all that stuff AND do it well... is not only a genius, but deserves to get paid a LOT of money. And sometimes I think those who put out those ads are either used to sub-quality work (and think it's the standard) or don't really understand how much they are asking of a single person. Were I to have a business with an IT department, I would at the least have a front-ender and a back-ender, and possibly a designer-who-understands-the-web's-not-print. At the very least. If I couldn't afford it, well then I would at least know what I'd be losing out on.


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