Starting Out.

Disco Stu

New Member
Hi Everyone, this is my first post. You could say that I've trained as a graphic designer "on the job". I started out using Photoshop some 10 years ago because I liked photography and worked for a camera company. I got involved with illustrator a few years later and now use both on a daily basis. The next step for me is web design. I'd dearly love to be able to send interactive HTML emails through our CRM system - the sort you receive everyday from shops and websites. See our amazing Spring offers - you know the kind of thing. My company agree that it would be a valuable skill for me to learn and are willing to send me on a course and pay for it and everything.

Where do I start? Is Dreamweaver the answer? Can anyone reccomend a course? I'd quite like something official tasting that I could put on my CV with pride. Any advice gratefully received.
This is an interesting question because creating HTML e-mails actually flies in the face of everything you should learn to create good websites. This is mainly due to the way they are delivered and displayed. For example;

A good website will use an external CSS stylesheet to separate style from content. An HTML e-mail will include all the styling within the body of the document because mail clients have a nasty habit of stripping anything you'll put in the head tags of a page.

An HTML e-mail will generally use tables for layout whereas meaningful semantic markup makes a good web page.

The languages used are the same but that is pretty much where it stops so, are you asking about learning web page development or HTML e-mails?

If you want to do e-mails then I'd look no further than mailchimp (Google it) as a provider. They provide templates and all the tools you need to manage your mailing list.

If you want to learn web design then Dreamweaver is a fantastic tool. Just don't get sucked into 'I can drag and drop my website into place using the WYSIWYG editor'. You need to learn the theory of web design and then use DW as a workflow manager and labour saving device.

This might help; Corrosive Online: Articles - Top Ten Web Design Beginner Mistakes It's a bit tongue-in-cheek but the message is serious.

Hope that helps.
Many thanks,

Hi, thanks for the invaluable advice. At this moment it's the HTML emails that i'm focused on, so i've already checked out MailChimp and I'm gonna see how I get on with that this afternoon.

With regards to Dream Weaver. If and when I go down this route and develop my skills further, are there recognised / reccomended courses that I can go on? My company are keen to help me train, and I'm keen to let them. I enjoyed reading the top ten mistake articles, and I assure you i'm not looking to go on a two day course, create a website and put webdesigner on my CV! But it might be a good starting point for me.

Once again - many thanks.
Mail Chimp and Campaign Monitor both provide you with sample email designs which are great when you're just starting out.
I'm afraid I have no idea about recognised courses for DW. I am totally self-taught (with some help from forum members and a book or two). I know what you mean by having a certificate or something but a good web portfolio should also put you in a good place with employers.
really really watch out for email html letters.

last i checked, there are about 17 or more email clients. Companies are on outlook 2003/2007 etc and each one renders html differently.

learn html, interaction comes from linking back to the company website..

keep it simple - there are services out there which will check your html against all email inboxes and send you a snapshot of how it will look in each email client. i spent days creatng an awesome template which worked on my machine but would not work on my clients old outlook...................busted.