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#1 footydesign  Icon User is offline

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Beginner questions for web designers/developers

Posted 26 February 2014 - 04:28 PM

Hi all, I'm a new member to the forum.

I've read the FAQ, so this isn't going to be repeated I hope, but out of curiosity for the more experienced web developers/designers: What did your first websites look like when first starting out? Did they turn out good in only HTML and CSS?

I'm looking to make a career change early in my career and have been going through Treehouse tutorials (currently wrapping up CSS) to get up to speed to hopefully get into front-end development.

Is there an advice thread already on the forum for people looking to get into it? (I've looked at google and blogs).

Did you start creating websites as soon as you learned HTML and CSS? (without the use of frameworks or photoshop for instance?)

When is a good time to start using frameworks, such as bootstrap for instance - is it a good idea to rely on them early on?

And what websites do you use, if any, for HTML/CSS only (maybe Javascript too to start with) inspiration?


Thanks!

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Replies To: Beginner questions for web designers/developers

#2 BetaWar  Icon User is online

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Re: Beginner questions for web designers/developers

Posted 26 February 2014 - 04:41 PM

Lots of questions there. As far as whether there are other threads, I am sure you can find some, but at the moment I am too lazy to do it :)

The first website I made (and the second, and third, and probably 4th, 5th, and 6th) was pretty sad. It had HTML, and used images all over the place. It used basic inline CSS (for background and width, that sort of thing). I also relied heavily on tables (though that wasn't taboo at the time -- 9 years ago).

The best advice I can give you is to continue improving your skills, learning new things, trying new things, and taking some risks. Websites normally follow a fairly simple layout, though that doesn't mean it is the best, just most common. From time to time someone comes out with a new layout that totally changes the way something (like a portfolio site) is viewed and then others glob onto it.

I didn't even finish learning HTML or CSS before I started making sites. It doesn't take much knowledge to be dangerous ;) Actually, the first few sites I made used MS paint for images. Then I found out about Gimp and used that for quite a while until I got Fireworks, which I still use (and prefer) to this day for making site layouts.

I am a firm believer that in order to learn you need to reinvent wheels. I strongly suggest that you don't learn a framework (any of them) until you are capable of getting around the language said framework is making easier on your own without outside resources. If you can program something amazing, but only if you are allowed to use, say, bootstrap (just as an example) and then someday get hired on to a company that doesn't allow you to use it you will be having a hard time. However, if you know JS and understand it well you can fall back on that, or go through the necessary learning to pick up a new framework that is allowed easily (and hand code the things you need while learning the framework). My personal feeling is that you should never rely on frameworks, but know enough to be able to use them when available/ required.

I normally just google for website skin inspiration and go from there. If I can come up with a skin I like I can slice it and code it on my own.
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#3 FerretHolmes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Beginner questions for web designers/developers

Posted 27 February 2014 - 08:39 AM

My best advice is to never ignore a technology. When I first started out over a dozen years ago I never used CSS, Javascript or PHP. I head learned to create layouts with tables, as did much of the internet, and never adapted when the technology started to change. I continued to work with what I knew and didn't want to learn a new way of creating web pages.

I stopped making websites and writing any sort of code for probably six years before I came back. When I did I decided to start over and learn how to make a web page with proper current standards. It was a breath of fresh air and it awakened a new desire to learn and improve my skills. I was still uncomfortable with Javascript so I tackled it head on by going to sites such as codecademy, codewars and other free sites of that nature.

My long winded response is essentially saying to never 'work around' your weaknesses and instead confront and fix them. A well rounded web developer/designer will know how to use CSS and HTML at an advanced level, be comfortable with Javascript (and libraries such as JQuery), know their way around PHP, and even be knowledgeable in analytics, lead generation, marketing, branding, and UX design.

Almost everyone will give you a different answer in regards to the best way of learning. Think of it this way, guitar players who learned how to play on acoustic guitars will often insist any beginner needs to learn on acoustic. A player who learned on an electric guitar will insist you need to learn on electric. There are always arguments and two sides of the story but one thing remains consistent between the two groups and that is, playing guitar. Therefore as long as you are doing, you are learning.

As for inspiration:
Theme Forest
Web Creme
Awwwards
Site Inspire
Web Design Inpsiration
Creattica
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#4 laytonsdad  Icon User is online

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Re: Beginner questions for web designers/developers

Posted 27 February 2014 - 09:41 AM

First off I want to tell you that everyone that started writing websites started with a blocky, bulky, ugly site. You will get better at design once you get the languages better understood. HTML is important for content, CSS for style, and Javascript for dynamic changes to the page. Once you get that down a bit you can then move to server side languages like PHP, ASP.net, Python, and many more to do the thinking for your site.

If you are interested in writing for the web don't worry about the design until you start to understand how the structure of a site is supposed to be.
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#5 footydesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Beginner questions for web designers/developers

Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:55 PM

Thanks a lot for your responses guys!!! It's cool hearing about different experiences and getting all sorts of advice so I really appreciate it.

@Betawar: I like the risk-taking and reinventing the wheel approach, it'll seem more of an accomplishment understanding it rather than using someone else's markup/styling and code. I've heard on the other hand "why reinvent the wheel?" which also makes sense taking time into consideration, but given my introduction to this area, I'll stick with your advice! You mention slicing up a skin - do you use photoshop often to make websites (in terms of slicing up?)?

@Ferret: Thanks for that, and your links also!!! I'm already familiar with Awwwards and Site Inspire, so I need to check those others out.

@layton: That's great to know, I wasn't sure if I should hold off on creating a site because of my limited knowledge so far.


I already had a soccer site in mind, so I'll get to building! Cheers!
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#6 BetaWar  Icon User is online

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Re: Beginner questions for web designers/developers

Posted 28 February 2014 - 05:46 PM

I actually don't use photoshop to slice my skins either. I normally just do it all in fireworks. Once you get the hang of placing elements and getting things to look the way you want it is pretty trivial to create a cropped image with a portion of what you need for a given space. I also like that fireworks gives me (generally) a much better feeling of control over the size, scaling, etc. of my images. If I want something to be exactly 8px wide and 6px tall while being part of a larger image -- the information is readily available.
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#7 SunshineInABag  Icon User is offline

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Re: Beginner questions for web designers/developers

Posted 01 March 2014 - 02:05 AM

View Postfootydesign, on 26 February 2014 - 04:28 PM, said:

What did your first websites look like when first starting out?


My first website was pure HTML and not any fancy HTML either, such as no input tags, no CSS, and certainly no Javascript.

View Postfootydesign, on 26 February 2014 - 04:28 PM, said:

Did they turn out good in only HTML and CSS?


When I was practicing, I was more focused on getting the website to work and learning more rather than on how it looked. When I began putting in more CSS, it was more colourful but mostly just random CSS to see how stuff looked.

View Postfootydesign, on 26 February 2014 - 04:28 PM, said:

Did you start creating websites as soon as you learned HTML and CSS? (without the use of frameworks or photoshop for instance?)


I'm currently in a comp sci program, so I was required to use the programs specified by the prof. For all of my web development courses, the program was notepad++.

View Postfootydesign, on 26 February 2014 - 04:28 PM, said:

When is a good time to start using frameworks, such as bootstrap for instance - is it a good idea to rely on them early on?


I would advise against it just so you don't become reliant on them from such an early start and later on, you may not be able to use them. If a large portion of your learning was based on them, then you may find yourself in a tough sitation.

View Postfootydesign, on 26 February 2014 - 04:28 PM, said:

And what websites do you use, if any, for HTML/CSS only (maybe Javascript too to start with) inspiration?


All sorts of websites, sometimes from by browsing, other times from stuff people show me (even if they're not using it for inspiration).


Thanks!
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