What skills should an aspiring web designer aquire?

by Nathan Lewis 19 replies
My sister is the tech support person for a tech school and is convinced that her job will be outsourced soon. She has an associate's degree in programming but I think she's forgotten most of the programming that she learned. She can probably pick up any language pretty quickly though. What would be the best area for her to specialize in to be able to make 40-70K per year designing web sites?

Which skills should she learn that would be the best for being able to make it as a freelance web designer? I'm willing to buy her Dreamweaver; would learning that well along with a couple languages be a good path? She is pretty comfortable with HTML and CSS fwiw.
#website design #aquire #aspiring #designer #skills #web
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  • Profile picture of the author CharlesL
    Oh no, don't buy Dreamweaver! No need for it these days.

    If she wants to specialise in WordPress, PHP would be the next language to learn, after she's mastered HTML and CSS. Learning Photoshop wouldn't go amiss, either.
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    • Profile picture of the author BillyW
      Originally Posted by Charlie Livingston View Post

      Oh no, don't buy Dreamweaver! No need for it these days.
      Agreed. If she can pick up on languages fairly quickly, she should have no problem getting PHP down; or at least the basics. As far as SQL goes, she would just need a very limited knowledge of such in order to be a WordPress designer/creator. All you have to do is create a database and link it to your WordPress website.

      Another good language to learn that comes in handy from time to time is JavaScript, or at least JQuery. This will allow more "bells and whistles" for the sites she builds.

      On a side note, if she learns quickly, I would suggest learning Java and creating Android apps (or iPhone apps). I think that's where the monies at (my personal opinion).
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  • Profile picture of the author crescendo
    Firstly, Don't buy her Dreamweaver. You can use NetBeans which is an open source programming software that supports all programming languages.

    If she wants to become a webmaster, she would require the knowledge of web design and development too. If she is familiar with HTML and CSS, she is headed in the right direction. Is she familiar with adobe photoshop? The very 1st step in web designing is to know how to create website templates and layouts using adobe photoshop. GIMP is a possible open source alternative to Adobe Photoshop. The step that follows is mastering HTML and CSS. She should move onto learning javascript first before moving onto PHP. php is vast and in demand. MySQL is a database that is embedded into a php code so the knowledge of MySQL or other databases is necessary to create interactive webpages. I would recommend knowledge of CMS as well. Once she has attained this knowledge, she will be able to attain any job she pleases at a good salary range. Till her learning period continues, she can work online on sites like elance or odesk

    there are websites like w3school and quackit that could help her with web design and development

    Good Luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    You are over-complicating it... No need to learn graphic design (and specialized software for it) AND coding in different languages!

    I have never seen one person being talented and efficient in both fields: design and coding.
    For graphic design one needs talent, which cannot be learned: she is either born with it or not. Some people manage to get by just because they learn "the moves" of the craft but never do anything memorable.

    On the other hand, coding is something people can learn.

    People, unfortunately, use the phrase "web designer" too broadly - coders, developers, graphic guys, webmasters... they don't know the difference.
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    • Profile picture of the author kumarvijay
      Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

      You are over-complicating it... No need to learn graphic design (and specialized software for it) AND coding in different languages!

      I have never seen one person being talented and efficient in both fields: design and coding.
      For graphic design one needs talent, which cannot be learned: she is either born with it or not. Some people manage to get by just because they learn "the moves" of the craft but never do anything memorable.

      On the other hand, coding is something people can learn.

      People, unfortunately, use the phrase "web designer" too broadly - coders, developers, graphic guys, webmasters... they don't know the difference.
      yeh i completely agree with you , a developer can code and designer can design , both are the phase of single coin which is web development , We can't learn design , because designing is the part which is considered as a talent like a artist .
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  • Profile picture of the author lanotdesign
    If she wants to be a web designer she should be proficient in using photoshop and illustrator. If she wants to be a web developer, just follow their suggestions.
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    • Profile picture of the author iWebProfits
      Definitely getting familiar with Html 5, Css 3, Ajax, Php, becoming familiar with wordpress and all of its plugins will help as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael71
    And here we come to a point were many people say: learn this, learn that...

    Before learning HTML (it does not matter if HTML5 or XHTML or HTML4, it's HTML) and CSS (why the hell using an IDE like NetBeans for simple text???) before diving into a server-side language (PHP renders at the end to... HTML) you should learn AND understand this:

    a. box model
    b. document flow

    Then download notepad++ or any other text editor and prepare to learn:

    CSS Basics
    Free tutorials on HTML, CSS and PHP - Build your own website - HTML.net

    Now other "pro's" will come and tell you: "Go to w3schools..."...

    I'll tell you this: W3Fools

    If you have some money to spend get some tut's from Web development tutorials, from beginner to advanced | Nettuts+ or Software training online-tutorials for Adobe, Microsoft, Apple & more or buy a good book.

    Learning by doing... another good source is: Stu Nicholls | CSSplay | Experiments with cascading style sheets | Doing it with Style

    Check his code, learn from it, absorb it...

    If you master HTML/CSS go and learn more about CSS frameworks, then jQuery, then PHP (if you want).
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    • Profile picture of the author allricjohnson1
      Dreamweaver and Photoshop are the two tools that I think are essential for someone having a career as a web designer. They are not necessary but they are like the industry's standard choice. She most likely has to be very good in designing and creating beautiful sites if she wants to go the contract path where she designs sites for local businesses.

      You don't really need much coding in that area but if she wants to work for a big site she should invest her time into learning javascript, php and any languages that interact with databases.
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      • Profile picture of the author Brandon Tanner
        Everyone has mentioned coding skills so far (which of course is necessary), but that's only part of it. If she wants to do freelance work for herself, then she needs good business & marketing skills as well.

        You could be the best web developer in the world, but if you don't market yourself well, you're not going to make much money.
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  • Profile picture of the author rypher21
    Kust master, HTML, CSS, and PHP and you'll be a good web designer.
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  • Profile picture of the author squadron
    I'd suggest the following:

    1. Wordpress and installing Wordpress on cpanel hosting
    2. Customising Wordpress using css and maybe a bit of php
    3. Graphic design theory and graphic design tools (Photoshop and so on)

    Here's an example of a simple web site that uses the Wordpress default theme with a little css editing. ivy designer collections

    What makes it look pretty good is the photographs and other graphic elements. Most clients don't care about the web site's coding, they judge web sites on how they look, how they work and how they rank.
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  • Profile picture of the author jcegordon
    A quick way for her to get into the freelance marketplace is by offering customization of existing themes. A LOT of people are opting for pre-programmed themes, and then have tweaks that they can't make within the theme admin.

    In particular she could probably get a lot of business just tweaking workpress themes. These guys are banking their business on it.

    BTW I do not recommend Tweaky's services. I've tried their service and had incredibly poor service and the programmer did not follow very detailed directions that were supplied. I was disappointed b/c I think they're offering something really cool and needed.

    Good luck to your sister!
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  • Profile picture of the author webcosmo
    Hi, i don`t think that learning to develop only Wordpress will bring an income of 40-70K per year, in today's competition. She must learn very thorought PHP & MtSql , or ASP .NET . Wordpress is just a CMS, and there are thousand of cms's out there.
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  • Profile picture of the author Handdy
    She could also learn the basics of design software. If she knows to work with Illustrator, Photoshop and Corel Draw, she could work in advertising and also freelance. There is great demand for people who know these software. Designing a simple logo and editing a few images can fetch her great money. Even if this is not a full time job, it pays pretty well.
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    • Profile picture of the author carolwdesign24
      This is just my personal view. You said your sister knows html and css that's good but it must start by herself her willingness to learn other code as PHP, ASP.net, javascript,sql etc. Because, no matter how you want her to learn these developer language if she by herself don't have the willingness to learn these language code. Whatever your effort for to learn other language will be useless. However, you can encourage her to learn these languages. You can even suggest to her web tutorial like W3school. It is a free online web tutorial.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    For me this is all I really care about for building sites/themes:
    • Photoshop for web page mockup
    • Notepad++ (free) for coding the page
    • WampServer (free) for building Wordpress themes offline.

    You defiantly need to learn:
    • HTML
    • CSS
    • PHP

    Learning the basics for MySQL database is a good idea.

    The bare minimum is HTML + CSS (not optional), PHP If you want to build CMS themes (Wordpress, etc...).

    The first thing you need to do is get the HTML + CSS down, learn as much as you can on those two things because that's the core of moving on to CMS themes that involve PHP. Build the HTML + CSS template, then convert that same template to a Wordpress theme. That's the flow I use.

    There's thousands of open source JS code that almost always has tutorials (Google search), so IMO you can get by without knowing everything about JS.

    You defiantly have to be a self starter & can defiantly learn everything you need to know for free online. The best training is looking at different sites HTML/CSS source code & playing around with the code offline.

    Personally I wouldn't want to take clients (headache), good money can be made by creating your own paid templates/themes & building a following of traffic. The biggest complaint for template/theme buyers is support, so keep the buyers happy & they'll keep coming back for new templates/themes & recommend you to more traffic.
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  • Profile picture of the author TwitterKing
    Don't use Dreamweaver. Here's what you NEED to learn (in this order)...
    -HTML
    -CSS
    -JavaScript
    -PHP

    That's pretty much the winning combination.
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