I want to build truly professional web sites. Advice?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by brinary001, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. brinary001 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 4, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Hi all, I've dabbled in programming since I was a kid (written a couple iOS apps and made some very basic computer programs) but it was a lot of source code. Well, now I'm transferring to a university next semester to really start the coursework required for IT majors. It's a standard accredited program, so that means a little bit of everything: web dev, software dev, hardware maintenance, networking, cybersecurity, and the like. But I've decided to get ahead of the game a little bit by learning to create real, professional websites. You know the ones; those sites that have beautiful, graceful animations that come to life as you scroll the page. Or even just by themselves by playing on a loop. I guess my question is where should I start? I do have a pretty healthy and well-balanced understanding of the tools needed. In other words, I know I'll need a lot of JavaScript (particularly jQuery), probably PHP, and maybe Python?

    My reason for being so enthralled in web development I guess is because it's universal. A website operates the same on every platform. This makes it cheaper too because I don't need to buy 50 iDevices, 50 Android devices, and 50 computers just to test my software (from the point of view of a company). I can just ask anyone I know to go to www.(website or IP address).com and see how it performs on their device and browser. I'm also curious about any professional web developers out there. What is your job like? Do you enjoy it? Is it future proof?

    Thanks, everyone!
  2. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2014
    London, UK
    I do web development on the side on a consultancy basis and get a decent income from it. I'd say the only real problem in terms of getting work is just how competitive it can be - there's always going to be someone offering to do the work for less money from a country with lower average incomes than your own.

    With that said, what I've noticed is that if I'm offering a high standard of work to the client, they usually aren't bothered by my higher cost as they respect that they're getting quality work for it.

    Regarding the animations, essentially it'd be primarily done through Javascript - jQuery is a lovely library for Javascript that makes interacting with the DOM a whole lot easier.

    From a design perspective I'd say not to go overboard with animations - in my honest opinion it's more important to create eye-catching, user friendly designs first and then animations (which should be minimal) can be added later.

    With that said, you can certainly get some interesting website designs that way - I'm guessing you're referring to something like this?

    Regarding languages such as Python or PHP, they're used for server-side programming. That is, for dynamic sites, such as this forum where you need a server to dynamically update the content on a site based on user interaction for example.
  3. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    This isn't how professionals test websites. You need to have access to your own testing platforms so that you can make direct decisions on operation, performance, appearance and feel on multiple browsers.
  4. brinary001 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 4, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Oh definitely. I just meant for me personally in the mean time that that's what I would do. No I would never waste my clients' time by having them test my unfinished project themselves. That's just bad business XD.

    Thank you guys for responding. I'm leaning towards JS as of right now. JoelTheSuperior, would you say it's more beneficial though going with a more interactive language, as you say, like PHP or python? Versus JS which is more static?
  5. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    Start with the basics and add on as you gain experience:

    1) Structure and design
    HTML5 and CSS3
    With just that you can do some some really amazing things.

    2) Persistance
    PHP ( most common, there are others, some even 'better', but PHP is the standard )
    This allows you to store information, preferably in a database. So you'll need to learn SQL as well and database normalization

    3) Action
    Javascript ( makes the page come alive, clouds moving, colors changing ). But a lot of this can be done with CSS3 as well. That's why I say start there and build to here.
  6. Jamesbot macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2009
  7. davedev100 macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2009
    You might want to decide if you want to build websites or build website elements. Building a website involves a wide range of technologies and talents beyond programming. Also, its usually done now with frameworks, content management systems, etc. rather than from scratch other than for learning purposes.

    If you build website elements then you are removed from much of the website overhead and focus on one specific aspect which can be much more programming oriented. For example, you might develop a shopping cart, database connectivity, or an HTML5 game or animation for a site. While not as obvious, there's plenty of work available in specializing.
  8. Jamesbot macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2009
    I'm a professional web developer at a somewhat early stage of my career (about 4 years in). Here are some of the things I've learned so far:

    1. A professional programmer is someone who gets paid to program. Really, that's it. There is no standard of quality that a programmer must meet to be considered "professional."

    2. Be humble. Understand that 99% of the time there's gonna be a difference between your perceived skill level and your actual skill level.

    3. Reputation trumps credentials. The people who you will be working with will not care where or if you went to college. Seriously, Google doesn't care if you have a CS degree or not. They do, however, care about graph traversal algorithms. They also care that Twitter hired you.

    4. Do a lot of work. Do an unbelievably huge volume of work.

    5. Work outside of your comfort zone. Spend as much time as possible working on hard problems. When your job becomes too easy, and it will eventually, find a harder job.

    6. Follow the Hacker School Social Rules

    7. Realize that nobody knows what they’re doing. At some point (for me it was my first programming job... and every programming job since) you're gonna get Imposter Syndrome. And the answer is no, no one is going to find out you're a fraud.

    8. Ditch the dogma. Notice I haven't written anything about HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, PHP, Python, Ruby, NodeJS, Go, Scala, Java, Haskell, Rust, Objective-C, Swift, or any other tool or language. The correct questions are "Do I understand this code?", "Does my team understand this code?", and "Does this code meet the requirements?".

    9. DOES this code meet the requirements? AKA Learn how to test/benchmark/measure your code.

    10. Have a life outside of work. Seriously, enjoy your life. As you lay dying you can bet you won't be wishing you spent more time reviewing pull requests.

    Good luck!

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