I think i'm out of touch with web design

I started building my 1st website in 1999, Back in the days it was pretty much MS Frontpage running the WYSIWYG. I made quite a few websites with FrontPage. I understood HTML code and was able to write it. In the early 2000s, I actually made compelling sites that were with the times. I own my business so I tended to always design my own websites. Fast forward to 2006 I started to realize that CSS and PHP/MySQL had taken shape. I use Dreamweaver now. I learned just enough with CSS to move my style formatting to a style sheet but never really worked with PHP/MySqL (besides using php include tags for my header/footers). My sites I design are table based, which seemed good at the time (not using <div>). Now it’s 2013 and I feel like I am lost. I read HTML5, CSS3, Rails, JQuery, Responsive designs… Holly Hell!! At this point I’m stuck between a heart and a hard place. I need to do a re-design on a few sites I have but I know I gotta get up to snuf with the new technologies. I love designing websites but feel I’m way behind at this point, unsure if I should just hire someone and let them do the design or just dive in and learn all this stuff. I don’t have months to learn, but code devote around 30-40hrs. Not sure if it’s enough.

Not sure which road to take. Has so much changed from 2001 to today? I want to learn but i feel like I have to start from scratch.

Rather than building sites from scratch, there are now a number of mature CMS platforms to choose from. Each one tends to have a large collection of themes and plugins.

Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, and ExpressionEngine are some of the popular freebies.

My personal favorite is Wordpress because of its ease-of-use, wide array of themes and plugins, and a fairly straight-foward and easy way to develop themes/plugins on your own (in comparison to other CMSes).

The web has changed a lot since 2001.

Just recently I started on a new project based on code I wrote in 2010. Just in three years, a lot of CSS techniques alone have changed, not to mention the adoption of HTML5, responsive design, the focus on mobile browsing, plus dozens of other new technologies and techniques.

Web technology has been developing exponentially.

Hi chimoe. Welcome to the forums. :slight_smile:

Even with all the new CSS and HTML innovations, they are still fairly straightforward. You don’t need all the new stuff to make a clean, beautiful and accessible website. As Force Flow said, most of the backend functionality (PHP, MySQL etc.) can be handled by a CMS without you having to touch it. So it doesn’t have to be too hard.

That said, you still need to learn some principles of good web design, such as CSS layout basics, and that does need some work. So it depends on how much time you have. If this all needs to be done quickly, it may be better to get some help. But if you have a few months, you should be able to get up to speed with the fundamentals.

If all you can spare are 30-40 hours, then I’m not sure it’s a good idea to do it yourself, depending on the level of professionalism you aim to devote to your project(s). Since 2001 almost everything’s changed…

The problem today is that there are indeed plenty of topics to learn and too many options to choose from, so it’s inevitable that you’d lose your head, and perhaps your motivation to get started.

If I were to start from scratch, I’d get myself acquainted with the very basics of CSS, HTML, layout, performance (e.g image optimization) and a tiny bit of JavaScript. Quite a few topics are left out but it’d give you a starting point. When I have those down, I’d lend/buy myself a solid (modern) book on designing for the web and mobile and, in conjunction with SitePoint’s HTML and CSS references, work through the book from beginning to end. But you know best what type of learning method is the most apt for you.

Of course, these days you wouldn’t even need a book as there are so many fantastic resources that provide everything you need, but the downside is that these resources can be highly overwhelming, especially (thought not only) when you’re just starting out.

There’s one thing I’d avoid at all costs; using a ready-made framework like Twitter Bootstrap and its kin. There are some good frameworks without a doubt, but their use is highly questionable and deeply unsuitable for a novice and may do more harm than good.