Should I learn Web Design or Pay a Professional?

Mr. Monsieur

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 21, 2004
304
1
Hey folks!

I know this sounds like a silly question (how can anyone answer this but me?!) But bear with me, there is method to my madness!

I'm a graphic design student focusing on publishing (InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator mainly), so web design is not an essential skill to have, necessarily. However, I'd like to be able to work for myself eventually (I have already written, designed, and published a book that is in its second printing and am working on a second) and will thus have an increasing need for web presence. In addition to publishing, I am a musician, presently assembling a digital studio to record and publish my work...additionally, I have hundreds of art-quality photos I'd like to exhibit, and would like to get into independent film eventually...all of which will require a web presence with constantly updated content (oh...I'm hoping to start a blog soon, as well!)...If I was wealthy, I guess I'd just hire someone to do it for me...at the same time, I like the idea of keeping creative control over all aspects of my work.
So...my question is, is it enough for me to learn HTML, CSS, Dreamweaver, and maybe GoLive, or will I always end up doing mediocre work because I'm unable to put all my time and energy into web design? I know it's demanding work--I don't have a problem with hard work, but we're all limited by time and energy! I'm no rocket scientist, either...but from what I can tell, web design is less scientifically demanding than, say, computer programming...but maybe I'm fooling myself?
ANY thoughts would be much appreciated!
 

CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
If you are going to be doing graphic design professionally, you should at least have a working knowledge of how a website goes together -- even if you choose to contract the production work out. When you do print design and corporate identities for clients, they will ask you to migrate that design to the web. You'll need to learn the limitations of HTML.

Needless to say, the best way to learn is to muck about making sites for yourself.

Pick up a book on web usability: there is more to a website than just a good looking picture on the front - you have to put yourself in the shoes of the viewer, and say: What do I want to learn from this site? How do I get to what I want? Is it clear to me where and what each link is, and why I would want to go there?

Thanks
Trevor
CanadaRAM.com
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
If you plan on doing it professionally yourself, it's good to learn since it's fairly easy. You just have to have the design skills to pull it off, otherwise, your time and energy is better spent paying someone who has dedicated themselves to the craft of web design.
 

Rocksaurus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 14, 2003
652
0
California
It doesn't take long to teach yourself HTML, so by all means do it. Look at the source code of simpler websites, and start making your own.
 

primalman

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2002
619
3
at the end of the hall
CanadaRAM said:
If you are going to be doing graphic design professionally, you should at least have a working knowledge of how a website goes together -- even if you choose to contract the production work out. When you do print design and corporate identities for clients, they will ask you to migrate that design to the web. You'll need to learn the limitations of HTML.

Needless to say, the best way to learn is to muck about making sites for yourself.

Pick up a book on web usability: there is more to a website than just a good looking picture on the front - you have to put yourself in the shoes of the viewer, and say: What do I want to learn from this site? How do I get to what I want? Is it clear to me where and what each link is, and why I would want to go there?

Thanks
Trevor
CanadaRAM.com
Ditto

I have been a designer for almost 15 years and design is design, but just like print process limitations, there are technological and psychological issues to consider when designing for the web, just as there is for magazines, books, identity and such.
 

0098386

Suspended
Jan 18, 2005
21,746
2,886
short answer: learn yourself. learning stuff is always rewarding and all that. and you'd be surprised at all the old people you know suddenly offering cold hard cash to make them a little site :D
 

AuPhalanx

macrumors regular
Apr 23, 2004
104
7
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Hi, Mr. Monsieur!

Here's a general rule of business that I was told more than once:

If you have more time than money, do the grunt work yourself;
if you have more money than time, then outsource it.

In your situation, I say to give the web design a shot. It's really not that hard and since you are familiar with many of the applications, you should be able to pick it up rather easily. WYSIWYG programs make web design a lot easier and there are many books on the market (and ONLINE!) that make the mearning a piece of cake.

Remember, your web sites don't have to win awards or anything; the only thing they have to do is make a profit. (Profit being whatever your goal is; getting the word out about your film ideas, actually making money, or providing entertainment. It's all up to you.) Not one of my web sites would ever be considered for a "web design award" and I don't care. I get my awards every morning when I check my sales reports.

Keep that in mind. Good luck with everything and I hope that all goes well.

Have fun... Tony.
 

dornoforpyros

macrumors 68040
Oct 19, 2004
3,070
3
Calgary, AB
agreed, learn it yourself. Even if you don't end up using it alot it'll help you appreciate the ppl who are doing it and will make it easier to work with them.
 

Mr. Monsieur

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 21, 2004
304
1
THANKS!

THANKS FOLKS!

i'm really grateful for your thoughts and the time you took to respond. i'm going to do the free html and css tutorials i found on the web and then sign up for the dreamweaver class i was looking at, at the local community college, this fall. QUITE excited...and very grateful!
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
Rocksaurus said:
It doesn't take long to teach yourself HTML, so by all means do it. Look at the source code of simpler websites, and start making your own.
There's more to website design than learning HTML code. Let me list some of the higher brain functions:

1. Organization. How do you organize a set of data tailored for web viewers in an easy to follow format?

2. User-interface Usability. This one is a toughie. Most websites get this wrong. Mystery meat navigation anyone?

3. Graphic skills. This takes at least 3 years to hone and master. Do graphics seamlessly blend into the tone of the website? Do the colors clash? Is it professional enough to make a good first impression, or do you plan to stay in amateurville?

4. Content management. How long is this website going to stay up? Do you have a contingency plan for outdated content, or dead links?

5. Cross platform/ Cross browser compatibility. Have you done extensive website testing on all the major browsers and platforms to make sure it looks as you intended? What about CSS, PHP and Flash content?

Unless you are a master of these 5 basic principles of web design, don't even attempt to think learning HTML is all you need to start making web pages. Of course, this applies mainly to commercial sites, where first impression are really important. But for the casual do-it-yourselfer, go right ahead and make your own website worthy of Frontpage.
 

mnkeybsness

macrumors 68030
Jun 25, 2001
2,511
0
Moneyapolis, Minnesota
I agree with Lacero...

I've seen a lot of Graphic Design students graduating and realizing that having a website is a great idea for them to help promote their skills, but almost every one of them that I have seen has been a *typical* designer site...

This means that they have no idea how the web design world differs from the print world. Sure, there is room for originality and new ideas, but there are many things that need to be conformed by, like font sizes and colors with readability, window sizes, scrolling, cross-browser issues, information architecture, WORDING (Photos is not spelled "Fotos") and OH so much more.

I never want to discourage anyone from making the jump and doing both, but the few that I have seen that actually work well, the designer has taken a LOT of interest in the Web Design world and looked at lots and lots of sites, spent months on a basic design and architecture and gone through many revisions (as is the way most web designers still do it).

If you end up doing it on your own, good luck. I hope you succeed, but be very, very patient and pay attention to what other successful sites have done.
 

Rocksaurus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 14, 2003
652
0
California
Lacero said:
There's more to website design than learning HTML code. Let me list some of the higher brain functions:

1. Organization. How do you organize a set of data tailored for web viewers in an easy to follow format?

2. User-interface Usability. This one is a toughie. Most websites get this wrong. Mystery meat navigation anyone?

3. Graphic skills. This takes at least 3 years to hone and master. Do graphics seamlessly blend into the tone of the website? Do the colors clash? Is it professional enough to make a good first impression, or do you plan to stay in amateurville?

4. Content management. How long is this website going to stay up? Do you have a contingency plan for outdated content, or dead links?

5. Cross platform/ Cross browser compatibility. Have you done extensive website testing on all the major browsers and platforms to make sure it looks as you intended? What about CSS, PHP and Flash content?

Unless you are a master of these 5 basic principles of web design, don't even attempt to think learning HTML is all you need to start making web pages. Of course, this applies mainly to commercial sites, where first impression are really important. But for the casual do-it-yourselfer, go right ahead and make your own website worthy of Frontpage.
lol, sheesh, just trying to get him started, didn't mean to offend any professional web site creators :rolleyes:
 

snkTab

macrumors 6502a
Nov 13, 2004
579
0
Cincinnati, OH
The more you learn about web design the more you realize you don't know. There was a time were I learned HTML that I considered myself a good web designer. Then, I learned scripting languages and considered myself a better designer. Then I learned about standards, then I learned about flash, then I learned about not using flash, then I learned about other useless crap. All the while learning design, interface, and graphics aspects. I think that I am a well rounded designer now after many several of years, I know multiple standards, languages, databases, design theorys. (Still have never finished my own web page)

And then basically, when it gets down to it, you realize that the web changes constantly. For instance, anything less than xhtml+css is noobish and ruby on rails is the new php (probally not, but it's a nice language). Then you realize that even design changes, light unsaturated tints of blue seems to be the next forecasted color trend. Then you realize that you suck.


It all depends on you whether or not you can make a webpage and not really based on what you learn. I tend to be one who likes learning better than making. I see webpages made by people with no skill, and I tend to feel stuck up, but like I said, I've never really finished my own.

Note: I re-read what I wrote above and even I don't understand. So to paraphase, doing is more important than learning. Picture what you want in your head, on paper, etc and get there. You'll learn the basics along the way, trust me. Just find a good reference, book or online it doesnt matter.
 

rendezvouscp

macrumors 68000
Aug 20, 2003
1,526
0
Long Beach, California
snkTab said:
The more you learn about web design the more you realize you don't know. There was a time were I learned HTML that I considered myself a good web designer. Then, I learned scripting languages and considered myself a better designer. Then I learned about standards, then I learned about flash, then I learned about not using flash, then I learned about other useless crap. All the while learning design, interface, and graphics aspects. I think that I am a well rounded designer now after many several of years, I know multiple standards, languages, databases, design theorys. (Still have never finished my own web page)

And then basically, when it gets down to it, you realize that the web changes constantly. For instance, anything less than xhtml+css is noobish and ruby on rails is the new php (probally not, but it's a nice language). Then you realize that even design changes, light unsaturated tints of blue seems to be the next forecasted color trend. Then you realize that you suck.


It all depends on you whether or not you can make a webpage and not really based on what you learn. I tend to be one who likes learning better than making. I see webpages made by people with no skill, and I tend to feel stuck up, but like I said, I've never really finished my own.

Note: I re-read what I wrote above and even I don't understand. So to paraphase, doing is more important than learning. Picture what you want in your head, on paper, etc and get there. You'll learn the basics along the way, trust me. Just find a good reference, book or online it doesnt matter.
I understood it, and I have to agree completely. I'm not a professional web developer, or even close to it. But here's my experience:

You start of making the crappiest things, and you feel good about doing it. I mean, you made something! Then you start learning that there are better interfaces and coding techniques out there, and that's when you start making the jump. Last year, I started off with tables due to my use of Dreamweaver. I made a "pretty good" design that I was really happy with. But then I learned that there are better ways of doing the exact same thing, and that's when I went redesign crazy. Seven months later, I still don't have a new design, but over that seven month period, I've learned a lot. Web development is a huge field with many complexities, but taken a step at a time, progress can be made.

It's going to be hugely rewarding to you to create your own site. You seem like a very talented Mr. ( ;) ), and the type of person that will feel better knowing that something is your own work, and not something that someone else did for you. Whatever you do, don't end up like this (yet again, ;)).
-Chase
 

pubwvj

macrumors 68000
Oct 1, 2004
1,904
202
Mountains of Vermont
Learn to do it yourself. Otherwise you'll be stuck having to pay consultants to do it for you for the rest of your live-long life. It really isn't very difficult. While you're at it, skip the fancy stuff like Flash and Java. Remember - K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple S.)

Heck, what am I saying. I'm a consultant. No, don't do it yourself! Hire me! Or someone like me to do a professional job! :)
 

MontyZ

macrumors 6502a
Jan 7, 2005
887
0
I agree with what others have said: Don't waste your time with Flash. It's a lot more fun for the designer to build than it is for the person who has to sit there and watch every button and graphic swirl around the screen every time they move their mouse cursor. Very few Flash sites are done well, and they are a bitch to update.
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
Rocksaurus said:
lol, sheesh, just trying to get him started, didn't mean to offend any professional web site creators :rolleyes:
Actually, I'm not a web site designer. I forgot to take my meds that day. Didn't mean to take it out on you personally. :eek: