Web Design its self - Help please

  Mr Mark Nolan 00:15 30 Nov 2005

As the title says i need help, at the moment im in college studying AVCE ICT, AS ICT and BTEC National ICT all these are A-Levels but i dont think these are perfect for me anyways back to the subject i want to be a web designer either start my own business or join a business but i dont think i know enough about web design.

Front Page - i think that program is for beginners i know that like the back of my hand (Not being big headed but i have been taught it for 2 years now) i know some HTML but not all of it and i do have all the flare that is needed i just that extra little help from people that know what there talking about like you guys, i have looked at dream weaver but my college does not teach me that they deal with front page so i was just wondering...

Is there any books i can get great help from that will teach me most web programming languages, i dont mind how much it will cost me or how much time i will need to put into it i will do it all i love web design and really want to do it as a carreer i dont even mind if i have to buy 20 books at the price of £50 each i just need help.

my ICT teacher has given me software such as dream weaver and flash im new to this sofware but im willingto learn all or most types of software for web designers.

i also would liek to know if it would benfit me to go to university next year or stay at college and do another year of A-Level ICT or go to a university and get higher qualifications, im coming up 19 this march so i dont mind about fees at college or university coz im going to have to pay either way.

please help me guys i need to know that facts before i plan something silly lol and btw i am serious about web design i aint a little kid that is going through a phrase and also i have read some of your post within this forum and i have noticed you dont actually need qualification but you do need plenty of skill.

Many Thank

Mark Nolan

  Taran 02:47 30 Nov 2005

If you genuinely think that FrontPage is for beginners then I'm afraid you don't know it at all and certainly not 'like the back of your hand'. I've been using (and teaching) it for years and I still find new things to do with it and features I didn't even know it had. It's always a huge mistake to assume that you know something as well as you think you do - invariably you find that you don't know it that well at all.

I use FrontPage 2003 for commercial web authoring and it kicks the tar out of every other web authoring program currently available for data-source integration.

The Forum Editor of this very forum is another FrontPage user who regularly works with it in mainstream commercial site production.

Without going off on one here, try this link for a recent thread in this forum that covers a lot of relevant ground and also features links to some of the best web design books currently available: click here

Basically, the web design market is saturated and you have to be very good at a lot of aspects of it and exceptional in at least one area to stand a chance of long-term success. You also need to be very competent in several appropriate authoring environments, which would typically be FrontPage, Dreamweaver and possibly Adobe GoLive or even Microsoft Visual Studio if you end up going the .NET route to any great degree. That would normally be coupled with one or more graphics programs like Fireworks and Photoshop, with at the very least a general grounding in Flash.

HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL will have to be mastered and you will also need an understanding of ASP/ASP.NET, ColdFusion and possibly JSP as well. Note that an understanding doesn't mean you need to know how to program to any great degree, but you do need to know how the various languages work, what their hosting requirements are and which projects one would be more suitable over another. So an understanding of the top three languages is almost essential as is a very strong ability in at least one of them.

A good grasp of general software engineering principles and database administration is also essential (refer back to my mentioning PHP and MySQL) and you also need to know your way around Apache and Windows web accounts and servers.

Section 508 Accessibility issues, the Data Protection Act, e-commerce legislation and implementation, SSL, payment gateways and whatnot are also very, very important.

Once you have most of that under your belt, your statement that you "do have all the flare that is needed" will come into play, since design skill on its own is of little use without the ability to transform the interface into a working website.

Go to the W3Schools website click here and spend some time learning each of the languages. Knowing FrontPage, Dreamweaver or any other program is worthless on its own unless you also know how to fix broken or convoluted code in the event that you need to.

I shan't comment on your statement that "my ICT teacher has given me software such as dream weaver and flash". I'm a college lecturer and Microsoft and Macromedia beta tester and the very thought of that statement raises my hackles sky high.

Go to Google and use these search queries, with the quote marks:





You'll get more information than you'll know what to do with.

I wish you good luck with it, but don't think for a moment that you've even scratched the surface of FrontPage yet. It's an entire world of web design in its own right and about the single most powerful program you will ever get your hands on for web authoring of those programs currently available.


  Mr Mark Nolan 14:28 30 Nov 2005

thanks so much taran im sorry for thinking i knew so much but i look at front page and look at dream weaver and its so easy to use front page unlike dream weaver well it seems that way to me and thanks for the help with the books i do appreciate it very much i will do everything you have adviced me to do within your post.

how long do you think it would take someone to learn all of this and be able to say they know a bit about each fraction you have suggested.

  mco 16:13 30 Nov 2005

Hi Mark - I know very little about webdesign, less than you probably, which is why I am often on this forum. I admire your commitment and desire to find out what you're getting yourself into. But like Taran I'm on the teaching side of education and I'd say that there never is a time when you could say you 'know' your subject - you only really know it relative to other people. I'd say years and years to start with,really and then it's always an on-going thing, as new developments happen. The thing about webdesign is (as I've found out) it's easy to start with because for little knowledge you can get good-looking results, but the more you learn the more you realise there is to learn. One thing I would advise however, is to get yourself a good spell-checker, as when you produce sites this counts very much; you get less credibility if your use of language is below par.

  Mr Mark Nolan 23:06 30 Nov 2005

yes i do agree and as much as i know you probably didnt aim the spell checker comment directly to me but i do need one of them and if this was a humour forum then i would tell u my current grades i have for english but its web design and i dont think i know more then you im nearly 19 and i have only done 4 years of web design and well if your a teacher then obviously i wouldnt know more then you, i hate being big headed which is why i am sorry for the first post i dodnt mean to sound like i knew it all becuase i know i dont i just thought front page was easy but as i have been told i know very little compared to whats inside front page this thread already has help me consider what i will do, i will go to uni for a few years to get a good idea about web design since i only know a little about flash and front page.

thanks all for the amazing help its appreciated very much.

  Taran 02:30 01 Dec 2005

Interesting question about likely timeframe to learn 'all of the above'.

The bottom line is that you never stop learning - the market changes all the time and we're slap int he middle of a very interesting time what with the heavy emphasis on Section 508 Accessibility and other general accessibility issues.

We're also all falling victim of language progression coupled with a crop of web browsers that stink at displaying the pages created using said languages. You'd have heard some choice language in my office this morning when a carefully prepared CSS formatted site started jumping left in Forefox - the fix is an 'illegal' (in validation terms) inclusion of a couple of lines in the CSS file just for the benefit of Firefox, and I've lost count now of the number of serious code hacks I have to do purely for Internt Explorer's benefit *sigh*

FrontPage, just to clarify where I was going with my first reply to you, is more capable than most of its users could ever dream of.

You can integrate XML with a couple of clicks, set up data-driven sites with ease and template an enourmous site in no time, if you know how. It really can deliver if you take the time to learn it.

Specialisation is the key in web development. You have to be very good at something that people want or you'll be scratching around doing small sites for local businesses at low cost, low profit margin and no real hope of ramping up.

Web servers and web database administration are part of your daily bread as a web developer and you should pick one of the common platforms to go with first. PHP and MySQL are ideal since they are so widely available at low cost through most good web hosts.

What you want to do isn't impossible, nor do you necessarily need to go to university (although I'd never advise people against going) but different people learn at different speeds and putting a likely time scale on getting to grips with the nuts and bolts of web development on the whole is impossible to estimate.

I wish you the best of luck with it, and in the meantime I suggest you spend a day or three looking through the MSDN FrontPage site click here where you'll find code samples, downloads and more articles on how to do things you never even knew you could do with FrontPage.

  Forum Editor 15:14 03 Dec 2005

by Taran..........

Stick with FrontPage, become a real expert at it, and you'll have one half of what it takes to become a professional designer/developer. Of course you'll need to become acquainted with other applications like DreamWeaver, but that can take its time.

The other half of what you need is where many people come slightly adrift. They assume (wrongly) that once they are proficient coders they've arrived - and they can't understand why the world doesn't beat a path to their door. I get several letters/emails a week from would-be designers looking for a job, and they all stress their technical know-how. What clients want is that little extra, that certain something that will produce a site which showcases their business to the world, and does it with style and panache.

To a degree you can teach design skills, but lots of people hit a ceiling and stop there. A truly successful designer will be so because he/she can think laterally, and conceptually. Those people will never be short of work.

Go to university and get your degree by all means; for one thing university gives you an experience that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life - you'll make lasting friendships, and will mature a lot during those three years away from home. You might also refine your thinking in terms of your future. The website design business is in a constant state of flux, and today the thing to do is to specialise. Clients are increasingly looking outside these shores for software and site authoring skills, and outsourcing is the name of the game - freelancers are finding that there's money to be made by offering specialist skills on the open market. I regularly use the services of such people, and it works well - few designers nowadays can expect to be expert in all the multi-faceted aspects of site design and development.

Take time to think this through, learn about server-side technologies, and above all - do not discount FrontPage. To do so would be a very grave mistake - it's one of the best site construction and development tools on the market, and I hope to see it get better. I am about to start testing the technical beta of the new version of Microsoft Office - currently named Office 12, and I'll be very interested to find out what's under the bonnet for FrontPage.

  swapper 04:32 05 Dec 2005

Mr Mark Nolan, thanks for a very interesting thread, good luck.

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