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My 1-1 Web Design Lessons

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by bsugar, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. bsugar

    bsugar Member

    Hi Guys,

    Wondered what you thought about this.

    Since May last year I've been having 1-1 web design lessons with a tutor. I used Dreamweaver initially. He said there was nothing wrong with building with Dreamweaver if I wanted to know about code but he suggested using Wordpress if I wanted to build faster.

    We then had lessons with Wordpress and have built a few sites mostly using the Twenty Ten and Twenty Twelve themes. The sites get finished but we add individual bits of CSS styling to the main CSS style sheet some of which changes the responsiveness of the site. We also sometimes changed 2 column sites to 3 column and vice versa. However, although the sites look ok in the browser that we work with I'm left with the sites not looking correct in other browsers and the responsiveness not working on mobiles etc.

    I asked him why we were using themes that were already responsive, adding our code to change structure/position/colour etc (some of which messed up the responsiveness which was already there in the first place) and he advised that we had to sort out responsiveness later and test in other browsers along the way. He never browser tested along the way though and when I asked him about this he said that it would take too long for the lesson. To me browser testing and sorting responsiveness after a site is finished is like building a site all over again.

    I used different tutor recently who looked at some of my sites and said that even though my sites worked (minus the responsiveness) the code was messy. He said that in future he advises that I find a Wordpress theme that is very similar to the layout that I require and just change the colours. He said I will learn how to use wordpress without knowing loads of code. He said that if I find a more advanced and appropriate theme I could adapt it with its with its existing features and that way I will not have to worry about how it looks in different browsers or about responsiveness. He said that most themes have very advanced customisation and I should not have to mess about with code, css or html and that this a fast way of working. He warned not to change responsiveness or the layout at all as it would turn into can of worms.

    He also said that I could also

    Build bespoke sites using Dreamweaver, or notepad. He said I should use my own css, html, j query and responsiveness and then add to Wordpress for functionality.

    I sometimes feel these tutors may be teaching in a way that benefits their pocket rather than what makes sense and what would be best for me, my pocket and my clients. I have been paying for all these lessons and I feel like my work flow is all messed up now. Maybe I never really even had one. I'm inclined to use my recent tutor's advice but whose advice would you follow?

    Another point is: if I am building bespokely using my own css, html, j query and responsiveness, why am I using j query and responsiveness when that is already present within the theme that I will be using?

    If you have a minute to share some advice, as always I would appreciate it.

    Thanks sooo much :crazy:x
  2. Moominbaby

    Moominbaby Member

    Hi I'm a print designer that hope fully will be moving over to a bit of web soon and I have booked a course of lessons with these guys Digital Media Training | Web Design and Development Courses | CAD, 3D & Games

    Ill let you know how it goes over the next few months but maybe have a chat to them. They are trying to sell their courses of course but they do seem really knowledgeable and maybe able to help.
  3. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    If you're looking to learn how to develop so that you can offer it as a professional service, then you should definitely be learning to code correctly from scratch. Wordpress is great, but hacking at a theme isn't the best approach, and having to work within the design and layout of an existing theme can be very restrictive. There are however, frameworks that you can use as a starting point that will allow you to build upon them via a child theme, adding your own design and functionality in, as and when you need/want it.

    Alternatively, check out MODx as an alternative to Wordpress. Wordpress is a blogging platform first and a CMS second, and as such can leave you with bloated code and files you don't need. MODx generates no code at all, you write it all, so you know it's correct and there for a reason.

    This thread might also prove useful to you -
    Stationery Direct likes this.
  4. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Wordpress is great if you want to get a site up quickly and easily. Ive used it on a number of projects, where time and budget have been against us, and I've produced some good results BUT the more you hack about with a WP theme, the more you need to know about what you're doing. As you've discovered, making it look ok in one browser doesn't mean it'll work in other browsers and it's 99% guaranteed that one of your alterations will bugger the responsiveness.

    As Paul says, the best way is to learn HTML and CSS from scratch. Then get comfortable using jquery and basic .php. You will need a basic level of php knowledge to work with any cms (although modx has some great resources to show you what you need to write and where). A good place to learn the basics (for free) is W3 School.

    If in the mean time you want to modify WP themes I'd recommend scouring the wp plugin directory for plugins that do what you want. Fair enough you wont be learning anything new but they're less likely to break a responsive theme than if you do it yourself. For example, when you add columns to a page its much easier to use a plugin like WP Easy Columns than to try and code your own and then have to edit them for different browsers or screen sizes.
    lucy and Stationery Direct like this.
  5. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    If you want advice then remember that web design is a 'ground up' thing. It seems bonkers to me that teacher one said to jump straight into Wordpress, that teaches you absolutely nothing other than how to change a hex value to match brand colours. You should be able to create a responsive page layout, from scratch before you go anywhere near a CMS (Wordpress or otherwise). The fact he/she said that Wordpress would help you "build faster" suggests to me that the extent of their web knowledge is how to change a few bits of code on an existing Wordpress theme. That's not web development.

    You are a graphic designer right? Why not design a nice layout in Photoshop and then take it to your lesson and tell them you want to build it, from start to finish. Then, when it works cross-browser and on mobile you can look at a CMS. By the way, ModX is king. For bespoke design it pisses all over Wordpress.
    Stationery Direct likes this.
  6. lucy

    lucy Member

    I would have to agree, it sounds like Wordpress is the best option for you, for the above reasons. The plugins are a breeze to use and mostly free as well. For blogging, it can't be beaten. If you're planning to be a coder you need to learn HTML and CSS from scratch as it will be really noticeable to clients if you don't know your code!

    Good luck with your future projects
  7. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Hi guys, quick question. Does ModX require you to have good web coding knowledge to build a website? Or is it similar to Wordpress in the sense that you can create a website with little or even no web coding knowledge - buy a template, customise it etc?
  8. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I'm sure there will be some pre-made themes out there but generally speaking you need to be able to build the site you've designed then you take it to bits for ModX to put back to gather (known as chunking up).
    Corrosive and @GCarlD like this.
  9. bsugar

    bsugar Member

    Hey Moominbaby,

    Thanks for sharing. It would be interesting to know how you get on. When do you start and why do you want to step into web design. I also like the design and print side. I'm currently learning about Illustrator. I find design and print it a lot easier than web design but I still love designing websites.

    Thanks for taking time to share :icon_smile:
  10. bsugar

    bsugar Member

    Paul I really appreciate your feedback. I think this is the way I will try to go. I will probably give Modx a miss for now as I am already trying to learn so much. I am already studying CSS, HTML, Ilustrator & Wordpress and will also need to know a little php and J query. Not to mention SEO and marketing and this is while doing my day job which is not within the design field. Sooooo much to learn, lol.

  11. bsugar

    bsugar Member

    Yes that makes sense Big D.

    Another point taken. I might have to take back what I said to Paul and look at Modx a little sooner than I expected. I will at least go up to W3 School and have a look. In the meantime I think I will have to use ready made themes until I am 100% confident adding my own code and building in Wordpress or Modx

    Thank you so much :icon_hug:
  12. bsugar

    bsugar Member

    Hey Corrosive. Thats just what I needed to know. Valuable advice for me - the order to take when building a website.

    I have a mock of a site that I want to re-build in Dreamweaver and I also have all the code which I can take to my tutor.

    One thing he asked me for was for access to my server (said something like it was easier to code that way). My old tutor rarely asked for access to it as we worked via my wordpress dashboard. I was thinking about setting up access to the site that we will be working on. Are there any other areas on my server that I might have to give him access to?

    As always many thanks :nod:
  13. bsugar

    bsugar Member

    Thanks for taking time to help me out Lucy. I love Wordpress too. I will have to find some themes and use them without touching the code for the clients that I have at the moment. I am learning CSS and HTML with a view to being able to confidently add it to Wordpress. Will look into Modx a bit later as that sounds great too. Soooo much to learn, lol. :icon_notworthy:
  14. Moominbaby

    Moominbaby Member

    Glad to share and I'll keep you posted I'm a freelancer and more and more I see in both perm and contract the call for both. To be honest I really don't see the difference design is design and anyone who wants to keep it separate is silly because its all one and the same :) I'm designing websites etc for companies at the moment but I am lacking the knowledge to know how to push the limits and get great results:) Hopefully this will fix it. I am doing four separate courses, Flash (because people are still asking for it and I got a great deal on the course) HTML and CSS and then Dreamweaver. I'm also going to start teaching myself Creative Edge :) Keep you posted!
  15. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I noticed on Facebook today that ModX themes are becoming available. They look fantastic!

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