How did you start out?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Neoraven, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. Neoraven macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2006
    Hello all!

    I'm new (very new) to the Web Design scene but am very interested in it and hope to be able to make an 'on the side' kind of career out of it. I was curious to ask around and see where all of you current WD Guru's started, how you learned your skills.

    Maybe you just played with editors and learned that way? Did you take classes? Read endless tutorials and guides online?

    Post your little histories!


    And if anyone's interested here's what I've currently been working on:

    My site (Freely hosted, don't mind the banner heh):

    Project for client: Cyber Knight Computers

    Project for club: Team Technique

    As you can see all my work is fairly simple and amateur, or tear downs of templates.
  2. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    I got into web design while working at a computer help desk at my university. People from web design classes kept needing help because the teacher didn't know anything, but how to read from the book. Knowing web design wasn't part of our job, but it came up enough that I decided to start learning. I naively started by creating sites in MS Word (wow was that a mistake). Switched to MS FrontPage for a while and eventually just moved to hand coding. I've tried most of the applications out there, but always came back to hand coding. Currently using BBEdit for my hand coding.

    I learned by looking at code from other sites and reading tutorials online. I didn't buy any books until 5 years after I started and don't use them much. If yo have the dedication, all you need is out on the web. Web design has always been a hobby for me, and I only occasionally make money from it, but I have a day job so it's all good, and I do it because I like it, not for the money.

    For beginning I suggest reading various blogs and making sure you're learning from the latest techniques. Books get out of date fast in the web design world. And frankly teachers get out of date even faster unless they really keep up themselves, which seems to be rare from others I've talked to. Also, making use of a site like this one is great when you're learning. I never knew anyone who does web design so always had to figure out things myself. If I would have had a site like this to turn to when I was learning, I could have avoided a lot of wasted time, but probably did learn a lot in the process of figuring things out on my own, instead of having it fed to me.
  3. Matteh117 macrumors regular

    May 24, 2007
    Surrey, UK
    I don't know why I started, but I'm glad I did.

    I first started out with Microsoft Notepad, then I found Photoshop and started to "Save for web" and edit with Notepad. Shortly after this it was Dreamweaver/Photoshop.

    Now, all that's behind me and I use an IDE (Aptana) to develop OOP applications with all design being done in Photoshop, but fortunately not using Adobes sliced html. :)

    5 years and counting... XHTML, CSS, PHP, JS and Lasso.
  4. snickelfritz macrumors 65816


    Oct 24, 2003
    Tucson AZ
    I learned "old-school" graphic design in college back in the early 80's.
    (comps were done with Pantone markers, and layouts were finished using Rapidograph/blueline/paste-up on hot-press board)
    I'm self-taught in all aspects of computer-aided design, mostly from books and manuals.
    I've been self-employed as a graphic designer for 11 years.

    I started designing websites in 1998(or so) using GoLive Cyberstudio, Freehand and Photoshop.
    I spent the next 9 years using successive versions of GoLive.
    Last year I purchased CS3 Design Premium and began teaching myself Actionscript 3 (from books and manuals), and now focus mainly on Flash interactive applications and print work.
    The money is excellent, and there seems to be a lot of demand for this type of work in my area.
    (in 2006, I had to pass on two potentially excellent commissions because I didn't know Flash)
  5. Karasu macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2008
    Newbie to MR here. Thought this would be a good place to come out of stalker mode. :)

    I started learning web design during the summer of 98. I had an unrelated internship that summer and my supervisor was out of town for the first two weeks. A higher up told me to just surf on the internet in the meanwhile. I started looking around and realized that I wanted to know how to make an anime fan website. (I was a huge fan back then). Anyway, so I started in Netscape Composer and printed out every tutorial I could find and put the info in large binders. Made my fan page, set up some sites to sell things as an reseller, and just kept busy. Eventually, I just did hand coding in Notepad until I discovered Dreamweaver MX. I'm mostly self-taught by reading books, magazines, tutorials, and studying other people's code.
  6. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    Taken from previous Thread:

    By accident. Worked as a business analyst, for corp 500 (I never took a graphic or web class). My friend asked me to make a website for, can you believe it--money! My job got outsourced so I had not job and I started working out of a spare bedroom (with two CRT's and a g4 QuickSilver), getting jobs from craigslist, and started a business all simultaneously. I made some good friends and networked through forums, contracted for a few designers for a bit. One thing led to another, now we have an 2 office locations, 2 employees, 1 full time contractor, 2 part time contractors and half a dozen macs. Good times and gotta love our capitalistic society and the internets!

    Edit: I also taught intro to web design at the local college few years back at the ripe age of 23 :) Was good times...

    One more edit: Don't expect to be handed anything in this industry. You gotta put in your reps, just like any other industry. I took crap jobs, made sites for 200 bucks and ate top ramen and tostadas for my first year in business. I paid my dues though :) Take advantage of lower end jobs, because it builds experience and portfolio items. However, don't be taken advantage of. You'll at one point get screwed over, mine as well start on the little jobs :)

    And you know, all the designers that get pissy on these forums when people ask for small little graphics help, that's where I started. I'd spend 15 minutes helping improve a logo, 30 minutes to help make a banner. When all the guys who were "to cool" to make banners and where typing in their responses, I was building my portfolio and skill set. That experience is priceless when you first start out. However, I can't stand the people who walk in here and want free logos! Go figure.
  7. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    I totally agree here. I've found some work through helping people on this forum from helping people out and made some contacts. I generally help people just to help, but it also gives you good experience for dealing with clients and meeting people's needs. I, like ChicoWeb, also get a little irked at times when people ask for things for free. I figure though, since the Internet taught me web design for free, I can give back for free when I have time to help.
  8. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    Absolutely! You can tell the people fishing for free work, and the people who truly tried, and gave it the good old college try. My whole career started off networking in the forums... Made contact with another designer, I started working for him, he mentored me and taught me everything I needed to know.
  9. Neoraven thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2006
    Such inspiring stories O.O Especially yours ChicoWeb. Thank you all for your input =) Greatly appreciated.
  10. ppc_michael Guest


    Apr 26, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I started around 1995 when websites were simple and nobody cared about standards. :) So it was very easy and not a whole lot to know. I was able to follow the technologies as they grew and evolved, which was a lot easier than trying to learn now from scratch.

    My first page was hosted on AOL ( at the time), made using Personal Publisher. I quickly moved on to a standalone application called AOLPress which was like an early FrontPage. It was there that I would format things in the WYSIWYG editor, then switch over to the markup view to see what had changed, and that's where I initially learned HTML.

    Around 1997 I switched to Mac (yay!) and really liked TeachText, which is now TextEdit. So it was there I decided to go all-code and I wrote all my stuff in TeachText, then later TextEdit, and now I use TextMate. :)

    As for PHP, I just learned by going through articles at I already knew C quite well, so that helped quite a lot. :D
  11. jaikob macrumors 6502


    Jul 1, 2008
    Freeland, MI
    I started at about the age of 13, when I was "amazed" by computers and network subsystems. i heard of a program called photoshop CS, that could make a cool website. Ever since then I have been trying new things, If I screw up, I do it again a different way. My learning was through trial and error. I didn't use books, I rarely looked at tutorials, All I did was look at code snippits. I would then modify the snippit to my liking, and then ultimately remake the script. I was also influenced by my teacher, we both teach each other new things.

    Getting to know PHP, CSS, and MYSQL, I decided to run my own Linux server here at home. Once up, I did not have to worry about trying to find a free host, and my business took off from there, first from a corporate lawfirm out of Detroit, MI, asking to re-do their whole website. Jobs to me are learning experiences, because I learn as I go.

    My suggestion to you is memorize your XHTML tags before you get any more advanced. Once you have surpassed that obstacle, You should be well on your way to becoming a productive web developer.

    Me, now 16, am part of a high school club called BPA, a computer/business competition. I am currently in Web Applications Team, which deals with ecommerce and web app development. My team placed 1st in regionals twice, and 3rd in states, this year we are taking the number one spot, as I will have more time to work, so we can go to Dallas, Texas for nationals.

    Everytime I get a new job it is a learning experience for me, I am a learn as I go person, and that is basically my story about how I got involved in Web Application Development. :)
  12. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    Picked up a "Make Your Own Website For Kids" book at the book fair at school in 6th grade and made an awesome site complete with MIDI music on autoplay, a tiled background that made the text unreadable, many animated gifs, several 'under construction' images and a 'cool links' page that linked to AltaVista. Done, of course, with heavy use of tables and <HTML> tags in <ALL CAPS>. :D It was 1998 or 1999, so back when it was still a novelty to be able to make a simple web site, and naturally people wanted their own sites....and so on. I picked up CSS when it started to be a true standard and taught myself PHP with the aid of some online tutorials over Christmas break in high school. It did help having long-time graphic artists as parents, as far as aesthetics go.

    The most helpful thing I think I did during the whole process was to get a $5/month web host, make a password protected directory and just put together random web pages and miniature web applications...useless things but great for building skills. I also took small time jobs with a soft (or no) deadline, which gave me time to teach myself what I needed to know to finish the page.

    In college I don't have much time for web design but I do it on the side in the summer...sure helps put money in the bank.
  13. mpolox macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2008
    Hi, One question.

    Hi, I'm new here, and also new using a Mac, actually its my first day reading on this forum and my first month with a Mac, I'm a programmer, c++, java, assembler, yeah.. its boring, I want to try something with colors now :).

    I used Dreamweaver a few years ago (on a PC), and I liked it, but I'm not really sure if its a good option today, I really liked the ChicoWeb page, its simple, easy to surf, and the colors are pretty nice.

    Whats software did you used for it? Used the same program for the menus?

    I know this question may not apply to this thread, but I actually loved the design.

    Anyway, I'll keep reading more of these threads that are very helpful.

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