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Where do I start?

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by BM87, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. BM87

    BM87 Junior Member

    HI guys,

    Had this site recommended to me by a friend, maybe you can help me?

    I am Graphic Designer, working pretty much solely for print however I am pretty keen on getting my head around designing & building websites, but have no idea where (or how) to start...

    When I was at college we covered a bit of flash, which I used to put together my portfolio site, this worked in terms of getting my work online and landing a job within the industry, but isn't really the way to go about a "proper" site.

    Anyone got any recommendations on books, websites or other resources?

    Or the best way to go about it?

    Look forward to your replies!

  2. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Hi BM87,

    Firstly, welcome to Design Forums, good to hear you're here following a recommendation :)

    My advice would be to look at HTML & CSS coding to kick things off, this will allow you to code basic sites, and give you a good platform for learning more advanced coding languages down the line. I personally learnt through online tutorials, of which there are plenty, a quick reference CSS book, and a lot of trial & error.

    How do you pick things up quickest? I know some people will prefer reading in a book then testing things out, whilst others prefer video, and others prefer jumping in at the deep end. Perhaps if you can give us an idea on that we can suggest some good references, as there's a wealth of CSS tutorials and guides available.

    A quick tool that will become invaluable is the free firefox add-on, FireBug, it lets you view source code (HTML) and the associated styling (CSS) and you can even try out live edits on the page you're viewing, it's great for seeing how other sites use CSS to style their content, and how changes to the code will make a change on the site in your browser.

    Hope you enjoy the forums :)
  3. BM87

    BM87 Junior Member

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Normally i am a fairly quick learner, once I have the stupid questions out of the way and a basic grasp of the subject! I am certainly more hands on, most of what I know came about through giving it a go, making mistakes, trial and error & online tutorials.

    As I intend to try and teach myself from the very beginning, my main concern is making sure that I learn the right stuff in the right way. Any web stuff we do at work gets designed and then outsourced to a company miles away so learning from them is a non starter.

    That said though I can quite confidently knock up a design that looks lovely in photoshop or illustrator, then I get to dream-weaver and I'm completely lost!

    FireBug is downloading ATM.

    Thanks again…
  4. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    No problems, I would avoid learning to code in a WYSIWG style editor like Dreamweaver, in terms of using the software to create the code/the design view, the best way to learn is by viewing the actual source code and understanding how different elements work.

    I would say tutorials like this one > Design and Code Your First Website in Easy to Understand Steps | Nettuts+ will be a good starting step for you, you can download the source code, and see the various steps of taking a design from PSD to HTML/CSS. I think there's quite a few PSD > HTML tutorials on the net plus sites and smashing magazine, so working through these with developing difficulty/more complex designs should give you a decent understanding of how to contruct sites.

    Hope that helps, and if you get stuck then we have some great developers on the forums who I'm sure will be able to help point you in the right direction (I'm sure they'll drop by with some comments to this thread in the next few days too!) :)

  5. BM87

    BM87 Junior Member

    That looks bang on, for a starting point. Thank you.

    I think I need to set some time aside and just crack on with it, I will let you know how it goes.
  6. Monroe

    Monroe Member

    I was in the same position you are in now about two months ago. I would definitely start off with XHTML, not only because it's the easiest language to learn (IMO), but also because it lays the foundation for everything that follows. Your best bet is to follow the tutorials at W3Schools.

    Once you have XHTML under your belt, move on to CSS. With sound knowledge of those two, you should be able to code static sites with ease. Then if you want to learn how to code dynamic websites, I would recommend learning PHP and MySQL simultaneously. That's where I'm at right now. Then after that, I would say JavaScript.

    You can actually learn all of these languages at W3Schools. Just navigate to the home page from the link I gave you, and they will all be listed on the left side. I would also pick up a book or two if you have the funds. At the moment I'm half way through Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript by Robert Nixon. I recommend it. Good luck in your endeavors.
  7. BM87

    BM87 Junior Member

    All that in two months? fair play!

    Just had a skim through some of the tutorials on W3Schools, that's tonight sorted... with the net+ tutorial by the end of the week.

    Must find time to write a letter to Santa as well, get a few books sorted!
  8. samjacksondesign

    samjacksondesign Senior Member

    I only started learning same time as Monroe. Still far from 'there' however i find just try something out, if it goes wrong, google it(google is your best friend).

    And if i can't find it, somebody will definately have the answer on here:)

    I started with Dreamweaver as it guided me through the basics and also gives you a helping hand, i now have a fairly good knowledge of XHTML, JS and CSS.

    Yer books are on my list from Santa too:D


  9. Monroe

    Monroe Member

    I would recommend Notepad++ as opposed to Dreamweaver. And when you make it to PHP, try out Eclipse PDT.
  10. BM87

    BM87 Junior Member

    The net+ tut above recommended "Komodo" is that any good?

    So where / when would you use Dreamweaver? anyone I have spoken too in the know seems to be against it?

    Just spent a couple of hours on w3schools, making sense already, really motivated to get this cracked now!

    Thanks again guys.
  11. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Would start with Notepad++ as Monroe recommended, or was you referring to PHP with the Komodo recommendation?

    Dreamweaver can be useful in code view, but unfortunately it's been left behind a bit with web development IMO, it still produces some dated code with old techniques. So best to avoid learning in DW and getting to grips with valid xHTML & CSS, better to have that understanding + ability to hand code than be tied down with one piece of software (as many web dev college/uni courses tend to do).

    Hope the learning is going well :)
  12. Monroe

    Monroe Member

    In my opinion, Dreamweaver is for the graphic designers who need to code their website, but don't really care how it gets done, as long as it works. And in most cases, it will work.

    But if your goal is to actually learn how to code, then it's much more beneficial to open up a plain text editor like Notepad and build everything from scratch. That way, you know exactly what everything is, because you wrote it, which makes fixing any errors much easier as well. With Dreamweaver, it helps make the code for you, but not always using the best practices.

    But definitely use Notepad++ in place of the regular Notepad, because it has many useful features that don't take anything away from the do-it-yourself approach, and it's actually built for web development (and free).

    If you know how to code in Notepad, then you can definitely code in Dreamweaver. But it's not vice versa. Just because you know how to code in Dreamweaver, doesn't mean you can code in Notepad. Hope that clears it up a little more. :)

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