where to start!?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Simplesimon101, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. Simplesimon101 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    #1
    Hi, I've just graduated from a degree in Graphic Design (I amazingly got a first!) but I'd really love to learn some web design skills to build my own site and to be able to build sites for others.

    We did a limited amount at university in my first year but I specialised in other areas so, while I understand some of the basic principles, I'll be more or less starting from scratch.

    I've used lynda.com to learn software before and I've found it to be a really great resourse but I just wondered if anyone had any advice on where to start? and what languages I should concerntrate on? and what should I miss?

    Thanks! :)
     
  2. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #2
    Well from you degree it's sounds like you're more interested in design than development so I'm not sure how much you would enjoy learning JavaScript and PHP. The stickies in this forum have some great resources.

    Also, let us know what skills you currently have.
     
  3. Simplesimon101 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    #3
    thanks for your quick reply.

    I've actually never been on this part of the forum before so I completely missed those stickies... they look great but I think the range of languages seems a little daunting when your just starting out.

    I think it's actually web development I'm more interest in. I'm interested in building functional sites as apose to making eyecandy.

    I have very little web design skills at the moment (a bit of HTML and very basic understanding of CSS) all of my technical skill is in print and motion (photoshop, illustrator, after effects and indesign)

    Thanks
     
  4. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #4
    I'd suggest the first two languages you should look at are JavaScript and PHP. JavaScript is a client-side language so everything you do with it will happen while the page is already loaded. PHP on the other hand is server side so it can do a bunch of processing before the page is loaded. As you get a basic grip on PHP you'll likely also want to start learning about MySQL for storing data and PHP can access it. This will give you the knowledge you need to make web application.

    Alternatively, you could look at other server side languages like Ruby on Rails or Python. You don't have to take on every language. They generally just give you another way of accomplishing the same thing. I also suggest find some good RSS feeds that will bring you new articles in the area of web design. Smashing Magazine is a popular one. A List Apart has some great articles in its archive.
     
  5. TodVader macrumors 6502a

    TodVader

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    #5
    I agree with angelwatt. You should absolutely start with the basics (XHTML & CSS) and move on to Javascript and PHP.

    Here are some ressources to get you started:

    Books:

    PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling and Laura Thomson (Developer's Library) : Really big and great book to learn PHP and MySQL in a very good way. They teach you good programming practices from the start so you better handle bigger projects later on.

    HTML, XHTML & CSS by Elizabeth Castro (Visual Quickstart Guide). I bought this years ago but it's so well done that I suggest it to anyone wanting to learn XHTML. It is 100% complete.

    Websites:

    W3Schoools.com is all you need to learn any internet programming language and it's a great place to learn XHTML and CSS too. They have complete courses for about every language you can imagine.

    Google.com for anything else, there are thousands of websites and I always find the answer to my questions.
     
  6. Simplesimon101 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
  7. NathanCH macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #7
    I thought they would teach this to you in university. I've been designing for 6 years, never gone to school, but have been debating getting a degree in graphic design but I think this answers my question.

    No point in paying to learn things I already know.

    Anyways, I'd say expand your knowledge of HTML and CSS until you know them like the back of your hand. Learning javascript or php will be useless in a working environment if you cant even make a valid xhtml / css site.
     
  8. moderniste macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    #8
    I agree about learning html/css very well before you try anything else, but you don't need to know JavaScript well because there are many, many free scripts out there that will cover most things you'd ever need to do.

    I would suggest learning a little about php and databases (phpMyAdmin), just enough so that it's not completely foreign, and then get familiar with a popular CMS like Drupal, Joomla or even Wordpress. You can pick up the rest as you need it. (But even so, any CMS will be quite daunting unless you have a firm grasp of html/css at a minimum.)
     
  9. needlnerdz macrumors regular

    needlnerdz

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Location:
    switzerland
    #9
    HTML + CSS to begin with, however get in the practice of doing it all by hand [noo WYSIWYG] - these will be the core elements needed for ANY web site/project. Find the sites you dig, 'view source' and extract as much of the website as needed to run it locally [google terms like sitesucker for doing automatic downloads] - then push and prod throughout the webpage and view the results. I think the best way to learn something like this is seeing how others did it and learning the exact breakdown of elements.

    If you stay with a handcoded format, it will be really easy to integrate the skills to 'hack' javascript [as mentioned above, there are sooo many scripts out there already doing the functions you will likely need, so just get familiar in how to read and modify it] - and focus on PHP connected to a mySQL database. Over the past year I've focused on learning those last two and I've never felt so empowered on the web as a designer/developer/artist.

    + php.net manuals and google are the best technical friends one could ask for in absorbing this stuff.

    ++ Once you are really ready to start the php/mySQL thing, you should fire up a MAMP localized server setup
     
  10. TodVader macrumors 6502a

    TodVader

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    #10
    I don't agree on not learning Javascript to check out premade functions. Some simple Javascript like changing the CSS of a div from block to hidden can make some pages much more dynamic and serve content without reloading the page.

    It's very simple to implement but you still must know some JS basics before integrating something like that to a project.

    In my opinion, the order to learn languages is XHTML -> CSS -> Javascript -> PHP -> MySQL -> Other stuff like Java or whatever you need.
     
  11. design-is macrumors 65816

    design-is

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    London / U.K.
    #11
    First off, congrats on your first degree! Would love to see some of your work :) But I guess I'll be able to once you've set up your website.

    ^ I agree with this. I'm currently floating around the first half of that roadmap myself.
     
  12. Simplesimon101 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    #12
    At uni they focus more on teaching you to think like a designer than the practical skills. Their opinion is that it's easier to learn the practical skill from books, where as the design process just needs to be practiced and refined.

    I guess it's not for everyone. One of my friends failed the course but built up web skills and is now doing very well. Another of my friends has less technical skill, but did well on the course and produces beautiful work and is off to study at the Royal College of Art next year.

    I guess it's just horses for courses. :)

    Yeah, I'm quite excited by the possibilities of those two.

    Thanks that's a good list to work through.

    Thanks, I've got some of my motion work at vimeo but my print work will have to wait for the website.

    by the way I had a little look around your website... well done on the Golden Pencil! that's pretty impressive!


    I have another question. Did most people here learn web development through free online tutorials? It's just i've found lynda.com video tutorials good in the past for learning other software because you can see someone doing it and the courses are structured. Any opinions?

    Anyway, thanks a lot. You'll all been mega helpful.
     
  13. design-is macrumors 65816

    design-is

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    London / U.K.
    #13
    My course was the same - theory and practice rather than practical software skills. My first job was tricky, learning how to use Quark, create print ready artwork etc. Learnt quickly though, so I guess the courses are right.

    Cheers for compliment - D&AD award is nice for bragging rights, but looking back I think if I had put more effort into getting a first my career would have been off to a better start.

    I've learnt everything from free resources so far, but I know there are huge holes in my learning. I'm trying to read some books to fill in my gaps, but time is always a rare resource. I'm thinking an evening course to tie up loose ends and teach my the bits in the gaps, but it's all very pricey so am undecided so far.

    I think it depends on how much time you have on your hands and how you learn best as to whether the free ones are the option for you or weather or not you would benefit better from an actual course or a set of video tutorials.

    Love your Naomi House - Paper Animation by the way :)

    /Doug
     
  14. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #14
    I'm 100% self taught on web skills. I have degrees in other areas including programming, but all of the web related languages I picked up on my own. It took years to really know what I was doing, but I also didn't have a ton of time to put into as I was going to school for other reasons. If you have the time to put in the learning though, you can pick this stuff up reasonably quickly. I also read some e-books, but mostly it's online articles and practice that moves me forward.
     
  15. m3kilpat macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    #15
    I agree with what everyone is saying, but it will take awhile to learn everything, especially when there are a million languages that can all be integrated (php,html,javascript,xml,sql,etc.). My lack of skill is on the design side.

    If anyone ever needs a site created and can design it and create all images, logo, etc. I would be willing to code it to a fully functioning site if we created some sort of partnership or agreement.
     

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