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Starting off in Web Site Design


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#1 RussellClow

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 09:47 AM

Getting Started in Web Site Design - By Russell Clow

What Is Website Design?

Ok, to start off this little guide, I thought id quickly run through what web site design is! Basically, its the designing of websites. Whenever you look at a webpage on the internet, whether its a fan site, a company site, or a forum, It has been designed by someone. That someone used coding of differant languages, as well as graphics programs and What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) web developement programs, and created the site that your looking at.

Being Creative

One of the most important things Ive found, that helped me design websites for 4 years, was to get creative. Im a really crap drawer, but before I start a website, i sit down with a pad and pencil and just roughly sketch what ideas I have in my head. Once I get to the graphics program, I tend to just tweak on my original ideas and/or remove some ideas to get the finished result. One thing i Must stress though, You do need to have a level of creativity.

How to Get Started

When I first started website design, I used premade website templates from free sites like geocities etc. This helped me see how websites were created. To add to this, I made it my goal to go and learn HTML coding. This is the main bit of coding which all web site developers SHOULD know. I used internet websites, but you can get loads of books on it from good computer shops like PC World, or alternatively get them off the net from places like amazon. Its up to you how you learn it, But I suggest that you DO. I also suggest you go and get macromedia Dreamweaver. This has been a life saver for me. Its a WYSIWYG program, and makes website design 100x easier to do!

The next thing you need to do, is OBSERVE. Look at websites you like, check out the source code (view > source). Maybe even paste the code into your WYSIWYG program, and see how the site is structured. This really helped me understand how websites should look and feel. Learn your WYSIWYG program inside out, knowing how to do just about everything on it.

The next thing I did, was I created a few MOCK clients. I made up 3 or 4 clients, with differant demands. (obviously the last client should be the hardest) Go through each client, creating their website as if they were real. Provide them with regular updates on how the site is coming along. This will improve your skills working with clients. You might even want to ask someone, (such as myself) who has been in the industry a while, to become a MOCK client, and give you feedback on the design, as if they were the client. All of these things will improve your communication and designing skills.


Improving your skills further

By this step, You should now have an understanding of basic website design. You should know your WYSIWYG program inside out, and be able to create simple websites. Now you need to develop your skills further. Im sure youve noticed that some websites are very highly graphical. They have alot of images and have a very high tech layout, or a crisp clean layout. These graphics are done in a graphics program. This is your next step. Good graphics programs include: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

I personally havent got a clue with Illustrator, but Im going to learn it. Even after 4 years im still learning new things, and improving. Photoshop is an amazing piece of software. You could create a WHOLE website using that, export it to your WYSIWYG program, publish it on the web and your off! Find popular forums and sites that can help you with it. I learnt EVERYTHING I know about Photoshop from Good Tutorials. They have liturally, THOUSANDS of tutorials, all easily categorised.

Once familiar with your graphics program try finding a template you like, from say, www.templatemonster.com and COPY it EXACTLY. Dont just copy the code or anything, just get a screenshot of the site, goto photoshop, and make the site, from scratch. Obviously, you cant publish the site because of copyright laws, but I found this is THE BEST way to develop your skills. After a while, you'll be able to publish HIGH end website designs, created BY YOURSELF, and NOT copied.


Getting Hosted

Getting hosted is probably the hardest thing to do. Hosting can be expensive, and usually is. By hosting on geocities or lycos, you tend to get pop ups and ads everywhere, which detract from your website. I was lucky enough to get my own Personal web space from Blueyonder (Got it when I got my Broadband Connection) but you may not be. DONT worry. I suggest that you fork out the money to get a cheap host, so that you can get your site up! Theres not much point going for a free host, Unless you have NO money, because when you see, "www.geocities.com/yourname" as your url, most people dont even bother with it.

Use Mirror Sites

ShortURL - My biggest life saver. When I started using the Personal web space, the URL was amazingly long. It was usually something like: "www.clowy.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/something/something.html"
No one was able to remember it! So I used shorturl.com. They basically MIRROR your site to a differant URL. Something like www.something.2ya.com ALOT easier to remember, and looks alot more profesional.


Getting clients

This is also very hard to do. Getting clients is not easy. Getting PAYING clients is even harder! As mbleigh mentioned in his logo guide, Create websites for friends and family, maybe even your workplace. Make sure that you deal with them in a VERY kind manner. Remember that they are the customer, but you should feel free to input your creative ideas onto their site. Ive had clients ask for massive fonts and bright colours. I basically explained to them that it would detract from the profesional feel of the site, offered alternative means, and most quickly change their minds. Try and advertise yourself around. Find places that might swap links with you. Link exchange helps get traffic to your site. And of coarse, Join design forums such as this one. It will REALLY help your career and improve your skills.

Showcase your work

This is VITAL if your going to want clients. Whenever you create a site, a graphic, a logo or anything, add it to your portfolio! Clients will want to see your work, and portfolios are the best way. Make sure your portfolio is easy on the eyes, not too complicated, and showcases your work well. If you want clients, YOUR GOING TO NEED a portfolio for them to see. Theres no point firing links of your work at them, because they will lose interest, you simply need to put it all together into one, easy to view, profesional looking site.

Remember: DONT GIVE UP. If you cant do something, GO and LEARN how to do it!

Well thats it for now, I hope it helped. Please feel free to request any future guides you may want.
RTC PRODUCTIONS - Web Design at its Best!

#2 Lord_Gandalf

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 02:35 PM

Just as an addition, if you want to be "professional" about your work... don't use mirror sites.. buy a damn $20 domain and a get a real hosting account. Setup your emails, be professional if you want to get professional work. Big whoop... you don't buy mcdonalds a couple times or you skip going to the movies once a month... you just can't be THAT cheap in this industry.

My 2 cents.

#3 RussellClow

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 04:01 PM

The tutorial is directed at "newbies" to web site design. Those people who DONT HAVE 20 quid to spend. Its how I started. Not everyone wants to spend money on domains. Mirroring is a cheap and secondry option for those starting out in website design.

I think you need to review your posts before you actually post them, because not everyone has money to spare.
RTC PRODUCTIONS - Web Design at its Best!

#4

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 01:29 AM

for some countries $20 could be half of a monthly salary. Think about it, Internet is a pretty international thing :)

#5 Lord_Gandalf

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 07:02 PM

lol... I was trying to point out that $20 start up cash is nothing when starting a business.

#6 mbleigh

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 07:25 PM

Many people doing these contest sites are beginning designers looking for a way into the design world. They may be high school students and not have a credit card yet (thus making them unable to buy a domain/host a site). I agree that if you want people to hire you, it is a big boost to have a domain (basically a requirement) but as a place to store a portfolio or work on personal web pages for an aspiring designer, I see nothing wrong with the free hosts/no domain.

#7 will

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 10:43 AM

Hey guys there are other choices if you can't use a dot com, there are a lot of redirection sites like da.ru and web1000.com for hosting with no ads. Da.ru has proven to be one of the best redirection places. Also i´ve seen some redirections from tokio (.tk) that are free too. I think that one of the things that must be avoided at all cost is to have a freeserver address. There is nothing more ugly than seeing your site being destroyed by a top banner you never asked for. I prefer popups than that banner. Also there are some latin sites that offer free hosting and no banner. Just search the web and you will find one. But as a rule avoid the banners you have no control of. If you can find a place that let you put their banner wherever you want try it. I am sure the web has a lot of places like that since when I started I used them all the time.

Oh, and many people uses freeservers.com because they provide you with dns addresses but web1000.com does that too, so don't quit searching. There are a lot of cool people outthere offering free stuff.

See ya,
Will
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" (EDITH WHARTON)
-- NEW Portfolio --

#8 will

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 11:16 AM

Oh, and since this is a guide to get started I would add a few more thing to Russell's comments:

NEVER QUIT PRACTIZING: Learn everything you can. Every program that has a trial. Try to learn every tool you hear of. You will have an advantage with your competitors if you know how to solve every problem with the right and easy tool. In time you will be able to do what others do in short time since you will have the right name to choose from a wide list. Every day a lot of programs enter the market. Check the shareware sites and you will see.

FOR EVERY PROBLEM THERE ARE 10 SOLUTIONS: Don't look at the problem the same way all the time. If you are stopped on a proyect because you don't know what would fit the needs of a customer check the web, magazines, anything that awakes you the artistic inspiration BUT AVOID THE TV. If still you don't find the solution clear your mind and get a nap. There is nothing better than work rested. And if this doesn't work stay awake. It happened to me that sometimes this causes a rupture in the way you see the world and your mind stops bothering you. Then you create easily. But never get too stressed for your work. It will only make you hate it in the future.

YOU ARE YOUR FIRST CUSTOMER: Do you think it's hard to create for other people ? Try with yourself. You will see that you are the hardest customer you will ever have. I am never satisfied for a long time with my own website more if you check from time to time and you find it is not reflecting your actual talent. But one step at a time. Before a portoflio, before your first customer, before your first paid design you need a FACE. Create your own website, your own card, your own logo. Put the best tools you know in the process and take it to the limit. With the years I found that the market pays great for a good designer but even better for a great artist. Find your style in the traces of your pencil or mouse. Don't listen to those that think that you are not good, because YOUR AREN'T, yes you read well, and the more you learn the more you will see how far you are from being a good artist. BUT one day you will understand that it's ok to be that way. THAT WILL MEAN YOU HAVE NO LIMITS. So move forward once again with the courage of the lion and create. Most of the time for yourself and when you need to eat for the others. But freedom you will find only in the work you are 100% satisfied. You'll see.

CLOSE YOUR EYES & DREAM: You are a beginner yet you know everything you need to go ahead and succeed !! The problem is that you are not listening to your inner voice. You want to be an artist but you don't realize you already are. Close your eyes and find the shapes in the shadows if you can't find them in the light. Many people think design is only the use of techniques well learned from school. I say that design is another name for art. The best designers in the world are those that go far away... that create without boundaries. Somebody once said "I prefer to die poor than a slave of the system". A designer is a student in the mastery of art. Learn from others but know that if you close your eyes and calm your mind the shapes you are looking for will come to the rescue.

Well, I think I went too far in this extension so I will quit here before I receive a rock in my head.

Just for the beginners: GO AHEAD !!! I am sure you are meant to succeed !!

Peace.
Will
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" (EDITH WHARTON)
-- NEW Portfolio --

#9 SBGAMIST

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 06:35 PM

I agree 100% with all of the above. It is extremely important to remember that you a are the designer. You are the one that needs to close youe eyes and imagine what will be on that next website.

Your computer is your best tool. Well to get things going that is. :)
www.thegamist.xamichost.com/bed1.gif

#10 Qbee

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 09:22 AM

Also i´ve seen some redirections from tokio (.tk) that are free too.


tk is from tokelau, not tokio (www.dot.tk)

#11 Davidson

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Posted 27 July 2004 - 03:26 PM

there is also another service, no adds and free www.dot.tr.cx thats what I used for a very long time before I started servicing my own server
Adminstrator of The DG Network and Team DTR

View My Portfolio
kdavidson@gmail.com

#12 taz_eat

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 05:09 AM

A piece of good advice for beginners looking for a nice cheap host look at http://www.1and1.com/ $5/month for shared linux hosting and you get more transfer (25gb/month) and space (500mb) than most more expensive accounts.
Visit BGaming.com.

#13 JakSmit

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 02:55 PM

Wow,
1 and 1 sure have upgraded their accounts...
-- --- - -- ---- - -- ---- -- ---- --- - -- ---
My site: Freelance webdesign

#14 Blazen

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 04:09 PM

Here is another place to get free domain names:
http://www.uni.cc

I've had free hosting at www.inuration.net/forums for about 4 months now, while using a free uni.cc domain name. All I had to do was post 50 times in the forum to get an account.

Like others have already said, if you're looking to just put up your portfolio, just search for some free hosting. Once your graphic designing really starts to take off, then look to paid hosting and domain names.

Recently I've just purchased hosting from www.ultrixhosting.com. 500MB space, 10GB/month of transfer, for $15 for 6 months (or $3 a month). So far the hosting has been great. :)

Also, here is one of the best free hosting directories on the net:
http://www.free-webhosts.com/

Regards,

#15 originalvision

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 01:40 PM

Here is another place to get free domain names:
http://www.uni.cc

I've had free hosting at www.inuration.net/forums for about 4 months now, while using a free uni.cc domain name. All I had to do was post 50 times in the forum to get an account.



Free Plan 1: [Cost: 50 IT Points]

-35 MB Disk Space
-500 MB Bandwidth
-5 POP3 Email Accounts [1 on Subdomain plans]
-1 FTP Accounts
-1 Subdomains
-2 MySQL Database
- looks nice for portfolio hosting.

Very interesting, Blazen. Does inuration add some banners? how much hosting time I'l receive if I'l post 50 replyes?

ps: visited your portfolio, its great!

thanks
www.bankofdesign.com
I am creating logos, banners
(including flash animated) and websites.
originalvision[at]softhome[dot]net

#16 Blazen

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 04:22 PM

Hey originalvision,

You have a great portfolio too. :)

As for the hosting, there is NO advertisement (banners) at all. As far as I know, I think you will be hosted with them as long as they're still hosting. :)

So far, I've been with them for about 4 months, and there hasn't been any problems with them.

Thanks and I hope this helped.

Regards,

#17 ic3d

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Posted 27 August 2004 - 11:31 AM

One important thing i think about is that you should practise, practise, practise and practise. Be very criticall about your own work. At the start don't work for the money goal, work because you like it and because you want to deliver a perfect product you and the potential client are both 100% happy with.

I see a lot of those topics on these kind of forums where people think they can build a decent portfolio in a matter of weeks or even days. That's simply not true. I've been working years on my sites and still i haven't got my portfolio online. It has been online, but i became better and better and also more critic about my work. Always try to improve yourself. You think 2advanced or ceonex and all of theire sites were build in weeks? That's years of work and experience and you can see that and one day the hard work will pay-off big time. (if you're good enough ofcoarse, creativity and designing skills is something you have or don't have, altough you can train both, you might never have the edge).

#18 Ryland.T

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 12:48 AM

I think we should set up more frame work for designers starting out. to help guid them along. maybe we could have a submission thread where users could submit there designs to help others learn. (source files included)

#19 ic3d

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 05:29 PM

Maybe it's a idea to add all replies together and add some information about insurances, tax etc (everything that comes with your own company) as well. Would be really intresting for a lot of starters to read about i think.

#20 illumina

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 02:22 PM

If people dont have the money and want a short domain name, they could always go here: http://www.dot.tk They offer free .tk domains, you have to have your own hosting though, but it can be anything, from the space your ISP gives you, to a full blown $200 a month server of your own. It looks a little more professional than a subdomain, and it's a great way to start off.

Edit: oops, I'm sorry, I didnt notice this site had been mentioned. :/




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