Hands On Web Design

Posted on: June 11, 2008

When I first started out in website design in 2006, I had no idea what I was about to get into. My original thought was just to put something together and run it off an IIS server in my basement – just to see if I could do it. I had no idea what each step I took was going to lead to. I still don’t even know a lot of what I don’t know but in the short time I have been building websites, I have really come to enjoy it as not only for what new areas of design and all its related aspects I can learn but as a secondary income as well. I have several clients and offer not only web design services but website hosting as well.

First Things First

The first thing I did was to buy Dreamweaver and a 2 day class. It was a great introduction but as in most short class room shops I have attended, you go over way too much material in the short amount of time there is. You stay so focused on the outline and project steps, you don’t grasp the concept. At least I didn’t at first.

The next thing I remember was that I bought a few website templates. My thinking was that if I saw how a site was put together, I could break it down and get a greater understanding of design. It was a major step and it did teach me a lot but it was fairly short lived. The more I started learning, the more I realized that a lot of templates that you buy are still using tables and cells as opposed to straight CSS. I learned that tables and cells are not the best method for design so I pressed on.

I then purchased some CSS workshops that included a finished product complete with all the images, style sheets and HTML. It further provided a step by step guide with explanation of not only how to complete a particular design technique but it also explained why it was being done and the purposes behind it. I loved it! That was probably the 2nd most valuable tool I have come across so far to teach good solid web design.

Read All About It

I then got into a book buying phase. I probably have at least 6 different books on CSS alone as well as many other books on topics including JavaScript, PHP, ASP, Flash, Joomla and MySQL just to name a few. A good book is a perfect tool to learn a topic… the problem is that it takes a considerable amount of time to really read and study the book. I don’t know about you but time is not something I have a lot of between my full time job, church and other activities. However, if I want to learn something, I have found a great book can teach me so much more than most online courses I have taken.

Just Do It

Finally, I would have to say the best teacher is plain and simple hands on training. I have learned if I want to do something… I just start doing it. If it screws up, I just start over; it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. Don’t be afraid to try something. Join some blogs and forums and ask a lot of questions. Get a second hosting account and use it as a test bed. I have a couple of accounts on my own hosting service that I use strictly for testing. If someone happens across that particular site on the internet… it doesn’t matter what kind of shape it is in. After all… it’s a test bed.

Hands down, hands on at your pace is the best teacher.