Plan B

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by SwiftLives, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #1
    The economy is really starting to frighten me. A coworker's husband at another company just got laid off. And he's a fellow graphic designer. So far, my company is has not discussed the possibility of layoffs. Granted, we probably wouldn't know until the last minute anyway.

    So - how many of you print designers are sucking it up and learning web design? It's something I've been meaning to do for awhile, and I figure now is a good time to pull the trigger. Especially if it can make me a bit more valuable around here.

    What aspects of web design are good for print designers to know? I know basic HTML. Do I need to learn CSS? Javascript? Dreamweaver? Something else entirely? Where do I even begin?
     
  2. Nicolecat macrumors 6502a

    Nicolecat

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    #2
    I know, I'm in the same boat...as a print designer.
    My dad works for a printer that played a major role in printing some of the files my company outputs...They just closed his plant and three others.

    I feel like it will be a domino effect before it's over. :(
    Any advice would be duly noted...and would never fall on a deaf ear.
     
  3. SwiftLives thread starter macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #3
    I've met a fair number of print designers who (like me) have been stubbornly holding onto the notion that we can continue to be viable solely as print designers.

    I've wanted to delve into web design before, but there seem to be so many different areas and aspects that I never quite know where to begin.
     
  4. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location:
    das Fort
    #4
    I started teaching myself Dreamweaver a couple of years ago. A lot of aches and pains, but I've learned HTML and CSS pretty well by experimenting.

    I'm mainly a print designer at the small company I work for, but recently took over the website. I'm in the middle of a complete site overhaul/redesign and have never had better job security, despite the poor economy and the discomfiting fact that my company has a new president who is looking to cut the fat.

    I've also gotten new freelance work because I know HTML (mainly designing mass emails).

    So I say go for it. It's actually quite stimulating in a new and completely different way.
     
  5. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #5
    If you're not interested in web, there's still plenty of demand for packaging designers and 3D work. Learn how to do 3D mockups, learn how to work with different materials, learn about flexography and special inks etc and how to prepare files for cutters and folds.
     
  6. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    #6
    Yes to CSS. Dreamweaver is just one tool for HTML/CSS/FTP, not necessarily a specific that you need to/should learn. Javascript has been built up by the community to be fairly drag and drop. If you know html and css, you can implement open source javascript solutions.

    I highly recommend CSS Edit from MacRabbit for CSS, as well as Fireworks for actual design. Photoshop is not as tailored to the task.

    You should focus on html, css, information architecture, interface and usability design. The part of web design that would equate to 'print design' is maybe 30% of the web designer's job, and maybe 15% of the whole of a site. A lot of my time is spent site mapping, wireframing, troubleshooting usability and functionality issues.

    FWIW, the web jobs are drying up at the same rate as the print jobs here. In fact more so maybe, because clients have a much harder time wrapping their head around what they're paying for, and why the cost seems so high.
     
  7. Nicolecat macrumors 6502a

    Nicolecat

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    #7
    I always thought that troubleshooting usability and functionality issues was more of an IT issue? ...aside from knowing how to design around these issues.

    I would LOVE to learn packaging design.
     
  8. SwiftLives thread starter macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #8
    Packaging design would be fun, but I work at a software company. And I can pretty much guarantee that by the end of the year, we'll be sending out a link for our clients to download their software rather than shipping a physical disc. It's a shame, too. I had some cool ideas.

    I'm leaning toward learning me some CSS. After that, I'll probably start playing around with Flash. The reason I've been so hesitant with the coding is that my brain just has never been wired that way. Back in high school, in my Turbo PASCAL class (I am so dating myself here), I ended up designing the interface for the programs because I could never figure out how to make the actual programs work.

    Heck - I can barely even do Applescript. And that's almost plain English.
     
  9. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location:
    das Fort
    #9
    That's why I started with Dreamweaver. It's not perfect (not by a long shot) but it lets you design visually whilst adding the code in the background. Everything looks great on your screen...then you test in multiple browsers and start pulling your hair out.

    Eventually you learn which tags do what and start to figure out where things went awry (though I don't think anyone knows why DW does some of the things it does).

    Now I use DW's "Split" view, which lets you see the code and the WYSIWYG ("Design") view at the same time. When you click on an element, the corresponding code is highlighted.

    If you have access to it, you should take a look.
     
  10. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    #10
    No, because you really want to solve these issues before and during the design phase, long before any code is written, never mind backend code.
     
  11. johnmadden78 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2008
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #11
    Thanks. I want to learn a little web stuff anyway - I figure it never hurts to know/understand a bit of it, but as an up-to-this-purely-print guy it's good to know about other options.
     
  12. apsterling macrumors 6502a

    apsterling

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    #12
    CSS will give you a very strong control over everything design based. It effectively will allow you to do some typographical things you might find useful coming from a print background. If you're not doing backends and just developing the front, CSS, Javascript, HTML and a small knowledge of PHP should be very ample.
     
  13. Thirteenva macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    #13
    I guess I'm fortunate that I learned both web and print design back when I went to school. They're very different, but many of the same principles exist.

    If you're experienced, I can't really say that learning web will afford you more job security, it will however afford you a wider variety of opportunities if you do seek employment. However "what you know" is not as important as what you're able to learn.

    There's lots of existing, changing and emerging technologies, I could spout off about CSS, HTML, Ajax... but understand that the important aspect in an interview is a combination of "what you know" AND what the interviewer thinks about your ability to learn things you don't, or any new and changing technologies. This is reasonably important for a shop like ours where we're building and managing quite a few web apps.

    I even at one point passed on a very good designer with 20 years of print experience who could have contributed nicely to our marketing efforts. It wasn't just because she was weak in web, but based on what I gauged in the interview, her ability to learn the technologies she was unfamiliar with seemed like it would be a long and time consuming process. I wound up hiring someone with far less print design experience, but the SAME web experience, mostly because of that persons ability to pick up new technologies and adapt their skills to web. I had that person up to speed at web pretty quickly and easily contributing to the development of our existing websites and applications.

    The same is true for developers... if you're a good developer, it doesn't matter if you're familiar with the specific language that we're developing in. We want to gauge your ability to pick up new technologies because the one we're using now may not be the one we're using 5 years from now.
     
  14. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    NSW, Australia.
    #14
    I'd also *highly* recommend CSSEdit (learning CSS is a must)

    It's simple, it's not programming. You don't need Dreamweaver, you can build more efficient sites from scratch using TextEdit and understand what's happening. There are plenty of DIV layout templates available on the net to get an idea.

    Sites like tizag.com and http://www.alistapart.com/ have great tutorials for CSS/HTML/PHP/Javascript etc
     
  15. SwiftLives thread starter macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #15
    I suppose I'm going to need to learn Flash, too.

    Nobody ever told me that being a marketable designer was going to take work. :rolleyes:

    I suppose the next step is figuring out where to take a course. I'm leaning toward Lynda.com. Any other suggestions? (I might even be able to get my company to pay for it).

    I greatly appreciate the advice thus far. Thanks. I'm actually getting excited about this.
     
  16. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    #16
    Honestly I would skip flash or put it at the bottom of your list. Besides the fact that it is going out of fashion, there are plenty of third-party specialists you could hire to bolt on this type of thing to a web site. Don't make flash a priority. At all.
     
  17. SwiftLives thread starter macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #17
    Really? Flash is going out of fashion?

    Wow. I really am out of the loop.

    Now that I think about it, it does appear to be getting replaced by a combination of JavaScript and CSS.

    Still, I think there will always be a place for it. Especially when print publications start to get distributed via the web. I still predict a convergence of PDFs and Flash in the near future.
     
  18. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #18
    I *personally* have not experienced this yet....

    developing a large web-app costs me twice as much in ajax (and is a pain in the ass to develop) than writing the same app in flash/flex.

    while I do think that simple javascript and CSS is starting to replace simple flash animations, things change once you start to scale the project up...
     

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