So You Want To Be A Web Designer

HTML CSS Coding Image

I’ve been in and out of the Web Design world for the last 10 years. A LOT has changed since I first took my web development class. Wait Web Development? Yes, I’m going to start off with the development and why it will make you a better Designer.

I’ll never forget my first course on Web Design. We were instructed to open up Microsoft Notepad and type out these lines of code that had “<weird thing></weird thing>” that I had never seen before. I quickly found out that what I was typing was Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). I felt overwhelmed and curious at the same time when typing out code by hand, line from line.

When I was finished, I was informed to save my Notepad file as an “.html” on my desktop and open it up in Internet Explorer 6. As I did so, I saw my first, raw HTML webpage with a sentence and an image of Tom and Jerry. I asked my instructor why are we learning this “code” and not in Adobe Photoshop? Isn’t this a Web “Design” course? His response:

“You need to know how to fix your site before making it look visually appealing”

I thought to myself, okay fair enough I’ll roll with the punches and see how things go. As days went on, we learned how to build a skeleton framework with a borderless table and using “<font color=#000></font>” to make text colorful and learned tools that would be later used for the Design aspect of my website.

IT WAS HARD

I’ll be honest; there was a ton of frustration when we got into actually building a website for ourselves. Between images not wanting to display and elements formatted incorrectly, I wanted to quit and give up several times.

But for some reason, when I was not in my Web Design class, I found myself working more and more on my .html pages for my personal site and learning new code and methods. At the time, w3schools.com was my go to when hunting for a fix in my code or identifying another method to complete my task. I was interested and determined to make my first website look good.

When it came time to present our website project to the class, I lead the class with my design choices and inspired the few who had simple sites want to flourish them into a tasteful piece of information.

“Learning how to use the tools to build your foundation is the key to success”

Fast forward a few years…my father wanted to build a website for his photography business and he took a college course in Adobe Dreamweaver. He liked the visual view that Dreamweaver gave you but didn’t realize his site would not look exactly how Dreamweaver displays it. He was getting irritated and would call me to complain and seek help. I told him exactly what my instructor told me when I was first learning web development. My father’s response:

“I don’t have time to learn code”

Make time! Learn code if you are serious about Web Design. It will provide you the right mindset when you run into trouble on a visual element. It will also open up the door for learning new coding languages such as PHP, JavaScript, JQuery etc.

My father finished the class but unfortunately never took my advice to learn HTML or CSS and quit on Web Design.

As time went on and my Web Design knowledge grew, I discovered WordPress and the potential it has. Sure it’s a Content Management System (CMS) for bloggers but it is so much more if you understand how to manipulate the platform and make it your own.

In the present, it is very easy to sign up for a service and get a website up in minutes as WordPress has evolved so quickly. You can literally click a few buttons and change the way your website looks by selecting a new Theme or installing a new Plugin. That’s great but when you build and grow a website, you’re most likely going to have a good amount of content and media.

All of a sudden installing a new theme or plugin becomes challenging or even terrifying. Images don’t display or you lost a certain function on your website. You panic and may look to restore a backup of your site or even look into hiring a Web Designer to handle this for you.

If you are one of these individual’s, take a step back and get on w3schools.com or codecademy.com and learn the intricacies of HTML/CSS and set yourself up for success. You’ll open up a whole new world and enhance your critical thinking for taking your website(s) to new depths and even new job possibilities.

Recommended links for beginners in coding: