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Learning Web Design


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#1 mr phil

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 09:57 AM

Hi all,

I'm looking for a little advice on how to progress my knowledge of Web Design. I have basic knowledge and understanding of HTML and have hand coded a very basic site from scratch (this was along time ago). I have a basic knowledge of Dreamweaver and have published a basic site on the net. Since this i have picked up the basics in Photoshop and used hotspots and roll over's in Dreamweaver but have not used Flash itself.

I was wondering what would be the best way to progress to be able to work as a Senior Web Designer or Web Developer?

Is the fundamental a thorough knowledge of HTML istelf or is this just an advantage. I have heard about the following but only have a rough if any idea of what they are/do:

CSS
PHP
JAVA
.NET
MySQL
Apache
Pearl

Which are necesary and what would be the best way (order) to learn them?

Thanks in advance
Phil

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#2 groovicus

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 10:15 AM

I was wondering what would be the best way to progress to be able to work as a Senior Web Designer or Web Developer?


Perhaps one way to start would be to actually use some of those skills. It is sort of hard to make suggestions for future development without knowing what you are doing now. I think it is safe to say that if you are not going to get either of those jobs without any experience in design and implementation, no matter how many languages you may know. Besides, a knowledge of languages is not any real measure of anything anyway. Languages can be learned at any time; design concepts and software analysis require a bit of formal education, or a ton of hands on experience and self-education. Some sociology and psychology never hurts either. If one does not understand people, can one really expect to design effective web pages? If one can not, then one is probably never going to be a senior anything....

As an exercise in self-education, you might want to research that list of technologies; research is a necessary job skill also. :thumbsup:

There is no best order, or best way to learn, except that it would probably be a waste of time to learn those things in the list that don't really have anything to do with web design.

Another reasonable question; do you know the difference between a Web Designer and a Web Developer?

#3 mr phil

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 11:11 AM

Thank you for your feedback groovicus.

I am fairly new to web design but my interpritation of a web designer is someone who designs the layout/graphics for the web site and a web developer would be someone who created web based programs, maybe a web database interface, am I on the right lines?

The web site I have created is here:

www.tille.co.uk - i am not particularly proud of it and I am wanting to alter it but the company I did it for are very happy with it.

Which of the items in the list dont really have anything to do with web design? Like I said some are just things i've heard of. I live in Northern England and unfortunately there are no part time courses at local colleges relating to web design. The only course i have found is from a company called CompuTeach and is offered through distance learning (Self Teaching) but the cost is 4950. A little steep for me at the moment.

If you were going to employ a Junior/Trainee to work on web design what qualities/education would you expect candidates to have?

Once again thank you for your reply.

#4 groovicus

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 12:01 PM

I am fairly new to web design but my interpritation of a web designer is someone who designs the layout/graphics for the web site and a web developer would be someone who created web based programs, maybe a web database interface, am I on the right lines?


Yeah, that's about right. Here is a reasonable definition:

A Web developer can also be a Web designer, but a Web developer typically has more database, CGI, and engineering experience. He or she develops the interface between the front and back end of a website.

Source

I think as you look through other definitions, you will see that there is probably no clear cut distinction. I think it is important to recognize that there are different aspects to web-based development. The skills needed for middle-tier development are quite different than the skills needed to build a web page. IMHO, all of the cool stuff goes on in the background, but that is just me. I enjoy working with data, and I think databases are the coolest thing since indoor plumbing. That also tends to be heaviest in theory and computing fundamentals. But the theory and fundamentals are mostly pure, meaning I can mathematically prove why one approach is better than another in a given situation.

For a junior developer, I would expect some experience. Just to make sure we are talking about the same thing, I consider an apprentice to be someone with absolutely no experience. As a junior, I would expect some demonstrable skills. The more experience, the better (of course), but I would give special attention to those applicants that were involved in some technically complex projects. For example, I would give more consideration to someone that had spent a summer developing a web based tool that did gene sequence matching as opposed to someone that may have spent a couple of years coding web pages. Of course, it also sort of depended on the type of project for which I was hiring for. My 'specialty', if you can call it that, is to develop custom web applications for private use by businesses. I need to be able to develop solutions quickly.

So now I need to rephrase what I said earlier. Out of your list of technologies, CSS is the only one that has to do with how a browser interprets a web page. You don't need any of the others at all in order to do web page design. I can create a web page with notepad, html, css, and javascript.

The rest of them can be used for web based projects, but I would not call them related. HTML and CSS are related because they tell a browser how to display information. Apache is a web server. Java is a full programming language. Sql is a language for interacting with relational databases. MySql is one implementation of a relational database. PHP is a scripting language for developing dynamic web content. Perl is a scripting language specially designed for handling text and is often used on servers to manipulate data from forms, but can also be used for other things. They are often used in conjunction with each other on complex projects.

So here is how all of this may work together on a project. One of my projects is a tool for finding relationships between biological entities in separate databases. In order to make the query as fast as possible, I have my own special database called an ontology. I use Perl scripts to download the necessary files I need to build that database. I also use Perl scripts to call other applications that process the various databases, which in turns adds the data to a MySql database. Once the database is built, researchers can access the database through a dynamically generated web page, created using java servlets and jsp. The results are then returned to the researcher through another dynamically generated web page.

There.. does that give you enough info to make your head explode? :thumbsup:

#5 mr phil

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 03:34 AM

Yes, ......head.....ready......to......explode..!

I think I will take your advice and look at implementing some of the new skills I have learned to amend the existing web site.

Cheers
Phil

#6 RADIUM-V Interactive

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 04:03 PM

Since you are familiar with HTML, try moving to XHTML and CSS - the two languages go hand-in-hand like groovicus mentioned. XHTML is slightly different in that the syntax requires you to close every tag, and a few tags in HTML 4 are unsupported or depreciated in XHTML. CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, are used to make XHTML pretty - XHTML doesn't really like when you try to set colors and formatting with hard code. You'll find CSS gives you more control if you control it - meaning Dreamweaver makes it a little difficult to handle CSS tags unless you write them out yourself - which in turn makes other pages using the same template easier to control and change all at the same time.
http://www.w3schools.com/xhtml/xhtml_why.asp
http://www.w3schools.com/css/css_intro.asp

The CSS Zen Garden demonstrates what can be accomplished with CSS and XHTML. It's pretty amazing - you can change the page's theme with one click.

#7 Roger F. Gay

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 07:51 AM

Actually, all the stuff at w3schools.com is worthwhile. That's where I started when I first started with website development. You might quickly find a reason for specialization ... at least if you want to be really, really good at something pretty soon. But crunching slowly though pretty much everything they had when I first started, gave me a nice round background so at least I understood what everything was.

If you want to become an expert, you will grow out of w3schools; but it's an excellent place to start.




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