Help For a Newbie

Discussion in 'Web Design' started by Mark1280, Aug 21, 2012.

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  1. Mark1280

    Mark1280 New Member

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    Hello,

    I am new to this forum and to web design and I am looking for a little direction. First, I have a technical background, but mostly in networking. I am currently going back to school for my bachelors degree in IST and have taken basic SQL and jave programming courses. This fall semester I am starting a web design course. I am really excited to take this class because for years I have thought about getting started in web design. I have had small business owners ask me in the past if I did web design, but had to turn them down. I figure now is the perfect opportunity to change focus.

    My first question is what is everyone else using for hardware and software. My course is based around Microsoft Web Expressions 4. I am not sure if this is good or bad. I know that most use Adobe for web design. My next question is what type of hardware should I use? I have a laptop and get MS Expression Studio ($599) free through school, which I know will not work on a Mac. I work as a PC technician and lean towards PC's, but I know everyone says Mac's are the best for Graphics, but does the same hold true for basic web design. The only reason I ask is because I am in the market for a new computer and what to take this into consideration.

    Any help or comments will be appreciated.
     
  2. leroy30

    leroy30 New Member

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    485
    Expression studio is crap. And I'm a big fan of Microsoft development IDE's so this isn't an overstatement.

    I use Microsoft Visual Studio for development, MS SQL for database and Adobe Photoshop for concepts and mockups.

    They will probably try to teach you an integrated approach where you 'convert' your designs directly to HTML. This is the wrong approach IMO. Use design concepts as an guide not as a source for code or you'll wind up in a huge mess of code and bloatedness which isn't good for development, isn't good for the end user and isn't good for search engine optimisation.

    I would take what you learn in class and put it in to practise on a side project. You'll learn a lot from the web too.

    By the way given your technical background and your interest in SQL and Java I'd aim to become a web developer rather than just a web designer. You'll get paid more for the same end-user expectation.

    Cheers,
    Le-roy
     
  3. Mark1280

    Mark1280 New Member

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    Le-roy,

    Thanks so much for your response. Like I said I am new to this area of IT and appreciate your feedback. Based on your response I have a few questions. First, if you think web dev is better suited for my background then what steps do you recommend to get me to where I need to be? Are there any books or websites you recommend? Also what tools such as software and hardware do you recommend for someone just starting out? You mentioned Microsoft Visual studio. I do have access to a MS Visual Studio Ultimate 2010 license, but I have no prior experience with that particular program. I pretty much have access to all current and prior Microsoft software.
     
  4. ronaldroe

    ronaldroe Super Moderator Staff Member

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    You can get Visual Studio Web Developer Express for free. I've tried it. It's not for me, but that just comes down to simple preference. I personally use either Simple Text 2 or Aptana Studio (both free), and they're great. I switch between the 2 depending on my mood and what I'm doing. Both are well-suited for development as well as front-end coding ("design"). For code work, especially if you're going to do development, stay clear of Adobe's Dreamweaver. Their other software is probably the best out there for graphics (Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks). Whichever track you take, IDEs are one arena where the free ones are the best, IMHO.

    PC vs Mac isn't that big a deal. I'm using a PC right now, planning to switch to Mac. I tried out a friend's Mac for a week, and the workflow felt smoother. Use whichever works for you.

    Other great IDEs I've used:
    Microsoft WebMatrix (free)
    Notepad++ (free)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
  5. leroy30

    leroy30 New Member

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    485
    It doesn't really matter in terms of hardware at least for testing and developing.

    If you have an MSDN subscription (being an IT person and all!) you should have a free license for the product.

    Also you could have a shot at signing up for the webspark or bizspark programs which include free licenses for 3 years. But that will depend if you are eligible.

    Failing that as RonaldRow says there is a free version available which does plenty enough to allow you to build any kind of website or web application.

    My advice is just think of a project, download some tools and start playing! You'll soon gravitate towards the tools you like.
     
  6. Mark1280

    Mark1280 New Member

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    Thanks again for the responses!

    To answer you question, yes I have an MSDN account and have access to all Microsoft products for free. I suppose I will download Expression Studio for class, but also download Visual Studio and at least give it a try.

    I am glad to hear that Hardware is not an issue with performance, but instead just a personal preference. I know PC's inside out and was a little worried about not only learning web/design or web dev, but learning a new OS.

    RonaldRow, thanks for the tip on Dreamweaver. There is a guy that I work with that swears by Adobe products, but he is just starting out as well. That is why I posed the question here where I could get advice from the professionals :D
     
  7. chrishirst

    chrishirst Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    There is also Amaya which was created by the W3c and NVU.
     
  8. che09

    che09 New Member

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    I also think there's no big difference choosing over the two but you should choose the one that works best for you!
     
  9. Mark1280

    Mark1280 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice! I am much more comfortable on a PC. The only reason I posed the question is because I am finally in the market for a new computer, and do not want to spend +$1000 on a machine that will not benefit me or work against me. Most everything I read said it was just personal preference. I just wanted to see if I would get a strong opposition or not.
     
  10. AsheSkyler

    AsheSkyler New Member

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    177
    Everything really does just boil down to personal preference and what you're comfortable with.


    I do my layouts with pencil and paper because point-and-click triggers my OCD with pixel width and height. I only use Photoshop to get the hexcode for colors or making images.
    I code in Notepad++ when I'm on a Windows machine and just a normal text editor when I'm on Linux. Never touched a Mac except when I worked at a printing company and would help out the graphic designer from time to time. I saw Dreamweaver in passing when I interned at a webdesign company, but I'd never use it unless I knew I could turn off the autocomplete. Autocomplete annoys the hell out of me and I disable it in all my programs.
     
  11. JakClark

    JakClark New Member

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    128
    I use a Mac at work for web development and have slowly grown on it, but I still feel more comfortable with Windows and so run a virtual machine. xD
     
  12. Mark1280

    Mark1280 New Member

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    Forgive me, this may be a dumb question, but does anyone actually use WYSIWYG software or templates to help speed up the process? Sounds like most everyone here prefers common text editors like Notepad++ to write everything. Is it just something that becomes preferred once you get better at it? HTML is pretty simple, but I remember when I was taking my Java class and it would take me up to an hour just to write a simple script and test and debug it, so do most people just write HTML and then use templates for some of the more time consuming stuff?

    Like I said before, I am new to this area, so please be understanding ;)

    Thanks again for all of the responses!
     
  13. Roddy

    Roddy New Member

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    117
    Web Design Apps

    I work on a Mac and use Rage Software's WebDesign app a lot. One click sets up a basic HTML doc and you can create and store your own templates and plugins in the app itself.

    There's an option to have the code and the preview in the same window and, clicking on any object in the preview, highlights the appropriate code. Very useful on large docs.

    Taco is well featured and is less expensive and Fraise is free.
     
  14. ronaldroe

    ronaldroe Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Do people do that? Yes, there are people who do. In fact, there are some less savory folks out there who'll grab a template, change some of the colors, fonts and images and pass it off as original work to their clients.

    I would say if you're just starting out, stay away from WYSIWYG and learn. If you can learn by looking at templates, do that, but beware that you may be picking up another coder's bad habits. Me? I have some code that I reuse to make things faster, but it's code I wrote myself. That way, I know what's in it, and if there's a problem, I know exactly what/where it is. I tried using other people's code snippets, but found that I spent more time trying to fix it than anything else.
     
  15. BlueSky

    BlueSky New Member

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    I bought CS4 by Adobe and self taught myself everything. If you are going to spend big bucks, like I did and need help feel free to PM me!
     
  16. Mark1280

    Mark1280 New Member

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    I sent you a PM. Let me know if it went through otherwise i will resend.

    Thanks!
     
  17. Phreaddee

    Phreaddee Super Moderator Staff Member

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    @mark1280.

    I'd suggest opening up your questions to the forum as you'll get a much better understanding than learning blue sky's coding habits.

    and for the record, you dont need to spend big $$$, thats just BS.
     
  18. Mark1280

    Mark1280 New Member

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    Ok,so i know i am taking a semester of web design, but i am also doing some self teaching with the help of some videos on the internet. My next question would be what steps should i take to learn standard practice web design? For example, should i master html and then move to css?
     
  19. ronaldroe

    ronaldroe Super Moderator Staff Member

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    1,223
  20. Phreaddee

    Phreaddee Super Moderator Staff Member

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    1,978
    ronald is correct in that its a case by case basis, and you choose the right tools for the job. that being said, html and css are your building blocks, so yes I would learn those two languages first...
     

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