Learning to make pretty sites

Is there a fast-track where I can learn to build “pretty” websites - short of going to design school for 4 years?!

My background is building websites that are functional and pragmatic, and which solve business problems versus making pretty “vanity” websites.

But it seems that learning how to do “design” is important when it comes to selling my skills.

Everything I build is hand-written, so I don’t want to take the easy WordPress path.

But short of becoming an artist, is thee some way that I can move my business and developer tendencies towards making things that look “sexy” too?

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SitePoint to the rescue again!

It sounds like you don’t have the luxury of time. I don’t use Wordpress myself (apart from 5 minutes spent installing it on my test server to check it out), but it does have by far the largest number of available themes in every style imaginable, that could get you going. Get some hosting, get a domain name, point the latter at the former, then look into installing Wordpress. A lot of hosts these days have a pre-configured Wordpress installation job. After that, pick a theme you like and get to typing in some content. You should be able to have something up in an hour.

Not that I’m a HTML/CSS guru but I basically get multiple pre-built templates from a site like

Then, I dissect the parts that I like and glue them together. Is it perfect? No but I’m about 98% satisfied. Learning through reverse engineering is probably the best way to learn new tricks.

Some trick I use to learn is using broswer dev tools on 'CSS/Style’s tab. You highlight the element and check the ‘styles’ applied. Then I would check/uncheck some of the css properties to see how it’s built. As said, you really learn a lot by doing this.

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Separate the content from the markup and select a style from Zen Garden

for me i would take a step back and after getting a list of the functional parts try to imagine how that could be arranged differently. Even to the point of printing out bits of paper and moving the different parts around to think how they could sit.

Colours are important and give a huge part of the feel of a site. Choose colours that match the subject of the site.

It does take work like everything. Some people have more natural ability some need to learn more. I often do something and after a few days look at it again. If i think ‘that still looks good’ then it is probably ok if i think ‘what was i thinking’ then i know that i didn’t get it right.

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Good advice.

Yeah, it seems my choice of color is too blah - I like white sites like Apple, SitePoint, etc. My last client’s sister had this issue with my color choice - or lack thereof!

It also seems like font can make a big difference to artsy-fartsy types.

I like you idea of printing out functional areas of a site and playing mix-and-match.


WordPress is the CMS system everyone thing, it’s easy, but it’s not easy when you create or design, website it totally depends on your brain.

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