Where to start in Web Design

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by jtmx29, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. jtmx29 macrumors regular


    Jan 14, 2010
    I'm currently a student at a local community college in Connecticut and have taken an interest in graphic design and web design. I know PS and Illustrator, along with recently learning CSS and HTML.

    This was my current course of action.

    W3C Schools --> Books --> Online class...

    It seems though that I want more. I can make a simple site using CSS and HTML but I want to go to the next level. Before going too far though I want to make sure I have a good grasp of the basics. What are some good books to confirm this question and or make me a better web designer?

    I've been told that Transcending CSS is a great read, what do you guys suggest?


  2. kev., Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010

    kev. macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2010
    Along with the tech skills don't forget to study the design aspect of things (good layout, color, font). When I first started learning web design my teachers were teaching me the code and software part, but I took it upon myself to find and study books that had to do with good design.
  3. Zoreke macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2010
    I have the sme question, where do I start?

    I suse illustrator and Photoshop and design sites but can't programm a thing so I hire programmers to implement my sites. I had enough! they move copy around and destroy the design and the programming is never smoth!

    I need to learn how to make a site designed in illustrator to a fully functional web site!

    I have all the adobe web software too. but never use it... :)


  4. iDisk macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2010
    Menlo Park, CA
  5. dopey220 macrumors 6502


    Jul 19, 2006
    These days, my method for building sites is to use a CMS like Drupal or Wordpress; once you get comfortable installing a CMS on your server and playing around with its settings and publishing content and whatever, download some custom themes and play around with them. See what you can do in terms of modifying them (graphics and stylesheets); you'll be surprised at how awesome the sites you're making are with a minimal amount of work.
  6. avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    Well, have you looked at Flash Catalyst? You can convert a design done in Illustrator into a dynamic Flash based website very easily. Recommend that you look at the Adobe TV site, you may find some videos showing how it is done there.

    Catalyst can open your Illustrator file and allows you to convert the elements into working objects, scroll boxes, scrollbars, galleries, etc. You can connect to databases, etc. It's not very difficult. Before long, you'll be doing websites like the Rolex one very easily.

    Keep an eye on the Adobe Roadshows - those get around to most major cities and are a really good time to get to know the Adobe products better, and even better for networking with others in your industry.
  7. dopey220 macrumors 6502


    Jul 19, 2006
    Linky for free Adobe TV/Lynda tutorial:


    I just watched all these as I was working on a bit of Flash content to insert in to a site I built with Wordpress recently. Flash Catalyst is awesome, but I'm weary of sites that are built completely in Flash, for several reasons that I won't go into here (you've probably heard all the arguments before, though).
  8. Zoreke macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2010
    Thanks to all for the tips. I'll check adobe TV.

  9. snouter, Dec 31, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2010

    snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    I'd break it down into parts and consider each and your interest (and suitability) for each and go from there. Starting out is starting out and a hobby is a hobby, but if this is something you are interesting in pursuing as a career or something...

    Business and marketing: Websites need real objectives, consume resources and cost money. Websites tie into overall marketing programs and in turn advertising, social media initiatives, event promotion, etc. I'm just mentioning these considerations here, they are a world unto themselves, but it's the reason someone would pay you to sit in your double wide trailer in your underwear smoking weed using a cracked copy of Dreamweaver on a Netbook you got for xmas.

    IA/UX/UI: I'm grossly lumping these together and you can just read the wiki but each of these is a discipline unto itself:


    Graphic design is what it is. Important. Subjective. More talent than hard work in my experience. You can get passable with hard work but raw talent will ALWAYS wipe the floor with you.

    Ok, maybe what the original question was about. Building websites.

    I'd start with the dorky crap. I'd build a freaking web server. For free on a junky older computer, for cheap with used craigslist parts, for cheap with low spec parts like Athlon II or Core 2 Duo. Could build a new one for $200-$300? Or, if you have enough ram install something like vmWare Fusion and try out openSUSE (my longtime fave linux) or I just tried out Ubuntu server and am loving it, but it's all CLI, no GUI. Anyhow, the reason to do this is to get a better understanding of the whole process. Screwing with network cards and hostnames and getting beat up by permissions issues will make you undertand what is really going on. I installed ubuntu server and had LAMP up and running, my IP set to static, had phpMyAdmin installed and mySQL configured with a user I could use to access the database, installed subversion and an ftp server and got it up and running in about 1 hour total. When I want to develop I fire up my VM and I have a full apache2 server with php and mySQL and a fully functioning .svn server. I prefer this to using the stuff built into Snow Leopard, but that is yet another option. OS X has an Apache server installed. PHP is installed but not activated and it's not to hard to get mySQL up and going. Subversion I had less luck with but there are tons of host with free .svn hosting. Chefs do this when they go to the farm to see where the food comes from. It just gives you a real understanding to start at the very base, even though learning Linux will make you scream at times.

    Rackspace has cloud servers with root access for $11/mo.

    Learn subversion or Git.

    I like these guys for good free accounts:

    I used to program in Director then that went away and then I start doing a lot of Flash and now... I'm back to basics with HTML, CSS, Javascript and stuff and mobile is a fact of life now as well. Websites have to work on mobile now. I used to use ColdFusion but found it too hard to sell to clients and IT people and now I use PHP.

    Point is, specific skills will come and go, but you need to learn how to learn, learn what to learn and learn what to start moving away from. It can be overwhelming.

    Right now, I'd learn HTML5, CSS3 and javascript libraries like modernizr and jquery. I'd learn the newer stuff but learn how to fall back to the older technologies like HTML, XHTML and CSS. I would learn about responsive design and theories on how to deal with mobile and tablets.


    Learn to make pages go from 27" Cinema to iPhone.

    Sucks but I'd learn PHP and mySQL. Build small things. A list maker. A CRUD system to store your DVD collection with links to IMDB. Play with Twitter APIs. Consume data from web service. Hell, convert your DVD collection to work as a web service and consume it from a small mobile phone web page app. Databases are going to the cloud, but mySQL is still good to learn the concepts on.

    Just get on your homemade web server and play.

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