Web design - how hard is it?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Philsy, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. Philsy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 29, 2004
    South coast of England
    I can never find anyone to work on websites, and get frustrated relying on others to do updates, so I'm thinking of learning to do it myself.

    I've worked in publishing for years, and am up to speed with Quark and InDesign, and am pretty switched on when it comes to computers (well, Macs).

    So, what do I need to do? Evening classes, distance learning, or can I teach myself?

    Also, what program should I use? I've played with iWeb and RapidWeaver and they both seem limited, so I assume Dreamweaver is the way to go.

    I'm not aiming to be able to do anything too fancy (well, not at first), but it would be great to be able to build simple sites and edit existing ones.

    Any advice would be most welcome?

  2. TEG macrumors 604


    Jan 21, 2002
    Langley, Washington
    I taught myself HTML. I use Dreamweaver (mainly because my CMS Software uses it to create and managed templates) but I have also heard good things about NetObjects Fusion.

  3. andyjamesnelson macrumors 6502

    Aug 24, 2003
    Jacob's house
    Hey I'm pretty new to web design myself... buts its going well and I learn new things all the time

    I am sure you can get people to work on sites for you. I know I'm looking for freelance work.:p

    How I started: I watched lots of Lynda.com video tutorials. Read books /ebooks. Posted on here. Practiced! Thats really important. You can learn all you want but until you try doing for real it doesn't all hit home.

    I would say don't worry about software as such. I mean html can be done in any plain text editor.

    Learn the basics of non presentational html. Then learn CSS... both of these are very easy to get a conceptual understanding of.

    Then on dreamweaver or any editor start making sites. Just make anything really. Play with layouts and especially work on understand layout and positioning within css. Can be tricker then it comes across in tutorials.

    Then at that point you need to stop worrying about how-to and start trying to develop some design goals. Get out a pen and paper and draw sites. Mock them up in Photoshop and then go back to html and css etc.

    Its really the design that the hard part. The how-to is just nuts and bolts. There are alot of really skilled terrible web designers.

    Its not hard its just hard to have a good vision of what your trying to achieve - but I am sure that will come with practice. I guess for me one of the most important things is reflect on my web usage... ask yourself what bits of a page do I like / not like etc. Make scrapbooks of bits of pages you like with screen grabs etc.

    Good luck. andy
  4. MCRunning macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2008
  5. InLikeALion macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2007
    Greener places than I used to live
    Ditto. I used to use it simply as a text editor with a live "preview" by using it in code/design split view, only typing - no WYSIWYG stuff. For a while I moved to just using TextWrangler and Cyberduck. Now I use Coda, and really like it.

    To the OP - there are so many good online resources, there is NO reason to go to a class. I've found that most of those will be teaching outdated practices/technologies anyways. Lynda.com has really reasonable prices for great materials - though I haven't used their classes for web tech, just flash and some print stuff. There are tons of great free blogs/screencasts that are free.
  6. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    If you have the motivation, the I'd say go with self teaching. I'm completely self-taught and have learned quite a bit. I would look through the stickies in this forum to find loads of good links to programs and tutorials. HTML and CSS are very easy to learn (basics anyways), and with some effort you can get pretty decent with JavaScript as well as server side languages like PHP.

    I personally hand code all my stuff with BBEdit. DreamWeaver is OK if you're used to it, but it's not necessary. RapidWeaver can be good too once you learn how to use it and I hear Coda is a nice app. I think it's good to learn how to hand code even if you don't stick with that method, just so you can get a better handle on how things work, which is essential when debugging.

    So yea, head to the stickies and your favorite search engine and you'll quickly be on your way to creating some nifty web sites. Going to school for this is really more for people wanting to turn it into a business and would get a bunch of course on marketing and the like in addition to just learning code. If you're just being a hobbyist (like me), the internet is the way to go.
  7. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    iWeb whilst appears limited, can be a very powerful tool. Search for the iWeb designed websites that dont look like iWeb designed websites thread or something along those lines. iWeb is amazing when you want to knock up a quick website.
  8. jdl8422 macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2006
    To go from nothing to a basic website is fairly easy hop. To go from a basic website to an expert web developer is a tremendous leap.
  9. ppc_michael Guest


    Apr 26, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Using a WYSIWYG program such as iWeb or Dreamweaver is the easiest thing to do, but creates unmanageable and unreasonable markup that can come back and bite you later.

    I would try learning to write HTML by hand, as that will always be the best way. The way I learned was to use a program (AOLPress at the time, but these days Dreamweaver probably would be okay) and I would, say, insert an image or format text using the WYSIWYG editor, then I would look at the code to see what changed. HTML is pretty straightforward so it should be easy enough.
  10. tominated macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2006
    Queensland, Australia
    don't just learn html. there are still a lot of people out there that use now outdated code. Learn html 4 or xhtml (xhtml is better IMHO) and then learn css to separate styling from content. There are heaps of beginner tutorial on the web.
  11. jdl8422 macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2006
    Also, a good way to learn, once you get dreamweaver or whatever editor, is to think about what kind of website you want and what features you want. Its way easier to learn if you have a specific task. If you want a special nav bar on your site then figure out to do it, dont just say you want to learn html. I learned 99% of my web knowledge, which isnt much lol, because something on a site needed to be a certain way or have a certain feature and I had to figure out how to achieve this. There are lots of good tutorials out there and lots of different languages for you to learn so just dream up a site then figure out how to achieve it.
  12. Yr Blues macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Make a test website and play with the concepts. Start very slow and very basic. Might as well build confidence first. If you can make something simple look good and function well, you'll be ahead of the curve.
  13. dopey220 macrumors 6502


    Jul 19, 2006
    Word, I absolutely love Coda. I think Panic should come out with Coda Lite, and sell it for around $50. It would be the same, but without the reference books and Transmit. I think they'd sell a lot more licenses that way, as I was reluctant to pay $80 for it.
  14. dopey220 macrumors 6502


    Jul 19, 2006
    I assume you meant "knock out," but that's still really funny.

  15. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    Let me be honest with you. If you just need to learn enough code to update existing websites, it can be time consuming... but doable. If you need to learn enough to build out a website from scratch using current technology, then be aware that the learning curve is long and tedious and always changing. I've been a web developer for 8 years and it seems I can never catch up with the latest technologies. Go to your book store and look at the web design section and ask yourself if you want to take the time to be familiar with what's in all those books. If you don't want invest time learning to be a web developer, then spend your time finding someone to do it for you. One of my clients knows how hard it is to find someone to rely on so he keeps me on a monthly retainer.

    Of course you can "knock out" something with Dreamweaver, but it may not have current technology or look good on all browsers. If you do a website that won't work on IE or Firefox, you need to know how to fix it. That's what separates the amateurs from the professionals. You don't need to be an expert, but you sure need to know what does what... and how to fix it if it's not working.

    If you decide to go for it... good luck, and get used to having a stack of books by your bedside because you're going to be doing a lot of reading. :rolleyes:
  16. MojoWill macrumors 6502


    Jun 13, 2008
    there is a BIG difference between web design and development.

    My business partner creates lovely sites in Photoshop but wouldn't know how to turn it into a real site if his life depended on it. On the other hand I can create magical things with code but my design eye isn't as good.
  17. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

    Feb 2, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    I would learn XHTML and CSS. Sitepoint has really good books and for software, if your willing to spend money then get Coda it's fantastic.
  18. LewisBeechey macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2008
    Leics, England
    It totally depends on your definition of webdesign.

    It could range from designing a website, to developing it - both with BIG differences. I suggest reading up on HTML tutorials and then moving onto reading up onto PHP tutorials.

    The site you are viewing as you read this runs from HTML and PHP (with the exception of a mySQL backbone, but you learn that as you progress through PHP)

    Good luck!
  19. Philsy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 29, 2004
    South coast of England
    Hi, thanks for all the advice and encouraging comments - much appreciated.

    I'm going to do some studying. It sounds like I've got my work cut out but I'm ready for a new challenge.

    I'll keep you posted!


  20. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    Coda, CSS Edit and Rapidweaver are my tools of choice. Coda is brilliant but you do need to know CSS and HTML to get the most out of it.
  21. Trajectory macrumors 6502a

    Nov 13, 2005
    Learn how to code HTML and CSS "by hand" instead of using programs that create the code for you. That way you'll know how the fix all the coding problems often introduced by those programs once you start using one of them.

    I do all my web coding using BBEdit.
  22. mathcolo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2008
    My two suggestions are:

    Dreamweaver for WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)


    Coda for handwriting HTML/CSS yourself

    Obviously both of these two options have their respective positives and negatives, however I believe that Dreamweaver is good for those who need quick or highly professional websites and Coda is very nice for those who have a high interest in being creative with images and CSS.

    I use both and interchange between the two.

  23. howie1108 macrumors newbie


    Dec 8, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    If you've got time to learn it all you can easily build a website. There's a lot of basic web designing apps around like RapidWeaver and iWeb but it's better to learn HTML from start to finish so you don't have to always use templates. I'm 16 and i'm a web designer and i've learnt a lot of web languages like HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP, JSP, Ruby on Rails and JavaScript but in daily work I usually end up only using HTML, CSS and PHP so you should focus on what you're thinking of using for your backend.

    - CaptHowie.
  24. highjumppudding macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008
    iweb and photoshop. that is all you need. i am running all my business websites and personal websites using this set up. i have used dreamweaver and online hosting services for years and was underwhelmed with the quality and the time that went into the process. switching to iweb and mobileme made my life a lot easier and created more simple designs that i prefer. best of luck, i'd recommend trying it out.
  25. razorianfly macrumors 65816


    Oct 16, 2007
    Cheshire, United Kingdom
    I second XHTML and CSS. It will give you more flexibility in the long run.
    You can do some great things with Custom Style Sheets.

    Checkout this example:

    It uses WordPress as a blogging base, and CSS for the function and animation.
    A pretty trippy site I think you'll agree ..


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