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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.
What is Web Design? That sounds like a pretty easy question, right? Web Design is the process of designing and creating web pages. Well, there is a little bit more to it than that. Wikipedia defines it as, and I quote "Web Design is the skill of creating presentations "of content (usually hypertext or hypermedia) that is delivered to an end-user "through the World Wide Web, by way of a Web browser or other Web-enabled software like Internet television clients, microblogging clients and RSS readers". blah, blah, blah. Huh? Well, the reason that Web Design is so hard to define as it covers so much ground.
As the Wikipedia entry mentions, content created by web designers can be consumed in many different ways through multiple clients. Browsers, screen readers, mobile devices, RSS feeders, printers and a host of other devices can now access and consume your online content. In that respect, Web Design is no longer just designing for the browser, but designing for all user experiences. There is also the issue of what type of content you're creating. Is it hypertext, images, video, interactive content, or a combination of all the above? What about functionality? Does it involve Ecommerce, responding to user input, pulling information from databases or other information sources, or does it require you to access services from other sites like Flickr, Facebook, or Google Maps? Taken at the highest level, Web Design can be a pretty big umbrella.
Many new web designers are often overwhelmed by the array of choices and the amount of knowledge that they need to master. Terms like HTML, CSS, PHP, JSP, FTP, and Ajax can be intimidating and more than little off putting. More that once I've heard, "I just want to design a simple site. Do I really need to learn all these stuff?" Well, depending upon what you're doing, maybe not. However, if you don't have a solid understanding of how the Web works, who you're trying to reach and what technologies are involved in creating your site, chances are your design isn't going to work either, whether it's simple or not.
Imagine, for a moment, that you need to build a bridge, but you only want to learn how to pave it, since that's all the drivers are really ever going to see. Chances are that bridge isn't going to work. Your websites are the same way. Without really understanding all this going on behind everything and how to properly structure your site, you're setting yourself up for failure. So, does that mean that you have to learn everything before you start to create websites? Well, no, not exactly. As the saying goes, the trick to eating an elephant is to eat it one bite at a time, so although web design encompasses a wide array of disciplines, for the purpose of this title, the term 'Web Design' will be restricted to what we refer to as Front-End Development.
Front-End Development includes the visual part of Web Design, planning and structuring sites, user interface design, and client-side interactivity. A large portion of front-end development requires minimal scripting and little to no programming at all. I'd also like to point out that very few web designers can do everything that I've listed. Most specialize in areas that complement their skill sets or that interest them the most. From there, other skills are usually acquired based on the type of sites they work on and the features that those sites need. I call this 'just-in-time' learning and unfortunately, it's often the only type of training that most web designers get.
So as you approach Web Design, you'll probably want to start by focusing on the area you are strongest in initially and just grow from there. However, don't neglect to learn the fundamental skills needed by all web designers. Skills like learning HTML, CSS, and staying current with the ever-changing web standards will ensure that your sites are structured correctly, regardless of your focus.
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