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Web Design Fundamentals is a survey of Web design and development techniques and technologies, fundamental concepts, terms, and best practices involved in professional web design. Instructor James Williamson examines popular web development tools, server-side software solutions, content management solutions, and cloud-based software, providing a high-level overview of the world of Web publishing.
It is easy for web designers to get a bit overwhelmed at times when they are just starting out. The web is a big environment and often it seems like you need to be an expert in a million things, all at once to be a successful. Well, there's no hiding the fact that to be a successful web designer you need to master your craft. To do that you need to put in the time required to get the necessary experience and make sure that you are diligent about learning how to do things the right way, as opposed to just getting them done quickly. I am constantly being asked by students for advice on how they can build complicated websites without knowing how to do scripting or write CSS or hand-code HTML.
I think you get the picture. And the truth is there is no Make Web Site button, regardless of which tool you use. With that in mind, the best advice I can give you is just to slow down. Realize that learning web design requires investing as much time into it as any other career and actually more than some to be honest. So, where should you focus your efforts first? More than anything else that would be driven by two things: which area of web design you plan to specialize in and where your current strengths are.
What interests you more, Visual Design, Information Architecture, Interactive Design or Back-End Development? Are you currently a graphic designer, technical writer, instructional designer, educator or other profession? Take some time to think through those choices and be honest about your strengths. That more than anything else will give you a roadmap of what you need to focus on first, and where you should go from there. Now although I don't usually deal in absolutes, I will say this. Regardless of what area you decide to focus on, make sure that one of your first tasks will be to learn HTML and CSS.
These two technologies form the backbone of all websites and required skills for any level of Web design. Yes, there are tools like Dreamweaver that will handle much of the HTML and CSS generation for you. However, if you don't truly understand how to write standards-compliant, efficient code you'll find that these tools are sometimes a hindrance in the long run. Besides, you might find just like I did that hand-coding your sites is actually faster, regardless of the tool that you use. Second and third, usability, accessibility and user experience should be your constant focus as you learn the various aspects of web design.
The bad new is regardless of how hard you try and how much you learn, you will never really learn everything that you think you need to know. The good news, no matter how hard you try and how much you learn you will never really learn everything that you think you need to know. It's the journey that's important. The web is a moving target. I used to be really, really good at laying out pages using HTML-based tables. That's a skill I haven't used in years. The web and the technologies related to it are constantly evolving. That means that your skill sets and focus should be constantly evolving and changing right along with it.
My hope is that you'll find that this makes web design an exciting and dynamic field and a very rewarding one.
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