The Lotus Cars Community banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
What started off as trying to put together a website for my photography, pulling a favor here and there thru several contacts, has turned into a decent part time gig doing some websites. I had to basically self teach html/xhtml and css, but got alot of good help along the way and am not relying so heavily on o'reilly's guides now.. What I have is a web desingner farming out his more basic stuff to me so he can focus on the really big money harder to do sites. he is helpful and very understanding of my learning status but is busy enough he cant be a mentor/teacher either. Everything I am doing for him now is xhtml 1.0 strict, verifying it thru w3c and occasionally he will add some flash or something in after im done but trys to give me stuff without alot of other nonsense.

I want to start doing bigger and more technically challenging jobs for him but right now im doing it all thru text editor and just verifying thru w3c and my own browsers. Im glad ive got html down the way i did and have a really good grasp on it, but I am tired of working hard/time consuming and want to start doing it smarter/faster. I also dont think anymore community college courses will be an option (for a while anyway) as I am busy enough now between the dealership and this gig to take more classes, but its not ruled out yet either.

some questions:

1. What do you guys who do web design for income recommend for a layout program? dreamweaver has been highly recommended, but I know there are lots of options out there. Im trying to get less dependant on the guy im helping where he can just give me a complete job and I will ftp it and finalize everything.

2. what do you do for a "crash course" in learning a new technology quickly in order to stay on top of the market?

if i wait till fall to take some classes in flash and advanced designing, im putting myself that much further out, would like something that is self paced where i can cram it in as fast as i can soak it up. I AM ALWAYS viewing the source when I come across a neat webpage, trying to reverse engineer what they did, but sometimes it just doesnt click. I a open to "dummy" books too, just looking for the highly recommended one in the sea of thousands of tutorials..

3. Is there some "specialty" area you would suggest someone coming into this field, even as a part time income, get into that is going to be the up and coming or mainstay for a while? especially an area that can turn into a lucritive full time income? (to anyone monitoring my internet usage, im not going anywhere for a while I am just trying to add to my income without getting a second job at walmart)

Thanks

Jason
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,221 Posts
1. I design my own layouts. If you know HTML and CSS like you claim, this shouldn't be a problem. The thing with layouts is that they are usually the most time consuming part of designing any website. Don't be lazy :p

2. I go to bookstores, I read up on websites and forums, magazines, etc. Same way you'd research anything.

Skip Flash... You'l be wasting your time.


3. Learn actual programming skills. That would make you a lot more valuable and you could accomplish a lot more. Start with JavaScript, PHP and MySQL. When you become proficient in those languages, you will be able to take on most projects.



Like anything, it takes a lot of PRACTICE. I've been doing it for years, so a lot of it comes natural to me, but it seems like you haven't. Practice making dummy websites and dummy programs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I have only been doing it a couple months for the paid gigs, a year-ish total... I have started doing dummy sites with coding i find in other sites' source just to see what it does when isolated etc. experience wise i am still VERY green,i quickly saw how you just have to do it over and over and over.... most of my direction has been from one guy, which may be just his bad habits or genius, im not knowledgeable enough to distinguish them yet. also thanks for the tips on sql etc. I am really looking at whats going to be around tomorrow than whats been going on, because the one thing i know for sure, it will always change/advance. The xhtml 1.0 strict is my doing, the guy im working with only cared about transitional html compliance, but every single book i read inbetween skirt watching at borders ;) highly recommended this path if starting new. he wasnt thrilled about it but didnt care, told me i could work as hard as i liked for the same money. based on that i suspect that his advice may be loaded with HIS bad/old habits and therefore some clarification and direction to help me steer them is appreciated!

as far as the whole layout thing I dont mind doing completely in txt editor , but was wondering if dreamweaver (program the guy im working with uses religiously) or something like it would make manna fall from heaven etc. I know bigger rewards requires harder work in most cases, but when a tool is available that is beneficial, im always open to the idea.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,591 Posts
I'm not a web designer, so my opinion may not be very valuable. I have a background in we programming, however. I've worked with a lot of web designers and done a little, myself.

Skip Dreamweaver, etc. They make you lazy and frequently you won't be able to keep the standards compliance you desire. As the standards evolve, the only tool you'll ever have that can keep up is the one in between your ears.

Hand coding HTML and css is what it takes to do the job right. The good news is that it does get easier, for several reasons. One is that you get better. Duh. Another is that you will (perhaps accidentally) develop a template library. Lastly, you may want to take Bavarian Motorist's advice and learn some adjacent skills. Web programming with PHP is a good skill extension. Dynamic HTML can be very, very flexible and speed project development after you have mastered some patterns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,221 Posts
I know you want 'the future', but look at PHP as a gateway language. Once you learn it, all other languages will come to you fairly easily.


It's my opinion that PHP isn't going anywhere for a while because it is very flexible, executes code quickly, is highly compatible and is so widely used. I could tell you what the future will be, but it would be useless to you right now with what little you know. I mean no disrespect at all.


Let me know if you have any further questions :wave:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I know you want 'the future', but look at PHP as a gateway language. Once you learn it, all other languages will come to you fairly easily.


It's my opinion that PHP isn't going anywhere for a while because it is very flexible, executes code quickly, is highly compatible and is so widely used. I could tell you what the future will be, but it would be useless to you right now with what little you know. I mean no disrespect at all.


Let me know if you have any further questions :wave:
no disrespect taken at all, i am glad you are willing to share some thoughts... try being the new user on a web forum for that stuff and asking questions they just treat you like a troll (or worse) and insist that your dabbling into thier lifestyle is going to bankrupt thier ubber god-like web position at major corporation x....

I honestly dont know how or what all the layout programs do/look/work, but if they arent revolutionary to the workflow process then im not sure it would be money well spent.. I would rather just keep toiling at it like i have been then, save that money for something else...

i was big into computers, etc back when the 286 processor was actually released to replace the 8088's...(i paid @ 1500 for one of the first compaqs that had a whopping 4mb ram and a unheard of 80mb hd and upgraded to vga display!!!) i got out of all that for years and now im realizing how behind the curve i am in terms of EVERYTHING by not sticking with it.... same thing with my photography.. when dslr's came out and were 3mp, cost was over $500 per megapixel, i figured nah ill hang on to my film bodies, that crap will never catch on for anyone but consumers.. wrong I was! i dabbled in photoshop but the process of scanning negs and getting them into the workflow was costly and time consuming so i let it slide for several years just doing what i could in camera and letting the lab manipulate color, or dodging and burning etc my own b&w prints.. now Im trying to play catchup with everyone else (and after a couple of years into digital slr's, i still am) as far as post processing work.. Im getting there though! like was said, practice, practice, practice!!

thanks again...

Jason
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
689 Posts
Industry standard for layout is Photoshop.

There's nothing wrong with hard-coding HTML/CSS in Dreamweaver as it can be very helpful, as long as you don't depend on the "design" panel.

I ran a company doing this for 8 years (our biggest client was a division of Citi) and now am working for an advertising agency.

The real question is: what do you really want out of this? A career, a real business, or just some extra side cash?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
689 Posts
If you want to make a career or even run a successful business, you first have to decide what you want to be. You can't be everything. You can't be a designer, front-end coder, Flash scripter and back-end/application developer all at the same time.

If you just want a little extra cash here and there, there's nothing wrong with being a "one stop shop". It just won't get you anywhere. If you want to run your own shop, you'll need to hire people to do certain tasks and manage that. If you want to be freelance, pick a skillset and stick with it.

One big problem you have is your location. Unless you can convince people remotely that you're worth hiring for enough billable hours to make a career, there isn't much on-site freelance where you are. You really have to be in a metro area like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. That's not to say there isn't any work in Dallas, just that it pales in comparison to other markets for this segment.

As far as learning a technology to stay ahead and be desirable, there is nothing better to learn than ActionScript 3.0 (in Flash). Highly skilled Flash developers around here make BANK as freelancers, and 3.0 is new, more powerful and everyone wants it. Easily over $100/hour full time.

PHP is great to know, but again, this is a totally different discipline than front-end or Flash. If you want to be a good PHP developer, that is essentially becoming an application developer. Personally, I'd be bored to tears doing that. Also, rather unfortunately, it's very hard to sell most corporations on PHP. We barely did it with Citi, and our big clients at work right now are dead set on using Microsoft technologies. That's another thing, .Net developers are hard to find, so it's a good opportunity. But it sucks. Seriously, don't do it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,297 Posts
1. What do you guys who do web design for income recommend for a layout program? dreamweaver has been highly recommended, but I know there are lots of options out there. Im trying to get less dependant on the guy im helping where he can just give me a complete job and I will ftp it and finalize everything.
vi - seriously.

I can absolutely jam in vi since I've been using it for so long. I had coffee with a friend who started his own company after I got him on my team as a designer many years ago - he thanked me for giving him a hard time and causing him to learn to do everything in a text editor. Sure, now he uses other tools too, but he knows what's going on in the underlying stuff.

2. what do you do for a "crash course" in learning a new technology quickly in order to stay on top of the market?
Dive in - read, try, but mostly play with it and test things out. Give yourself a small project and figure it out as you go. You can't learn to drive by simply reading about it.

3. Is there some "specialty" area you would suggest someone coming into this field, even as a part time income, get into that is going to be the up and coming or mainstay for a while? especially an area that can turn into a lucritive full time income? (to anyone monitoring my internet usage, im not going anywhere for a while I am just trying to add to my income without getting a second job at walmart)
Anything but IT - it will eventually burn you out.
:eek:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Anything but IT - it will eventually burn you out.
:eek:
I have a friend stuck in a server room somewhere doing IT/networking for a company and he's turned into a mindless zombie who cant even get a good nights sleep without a prescription. I got enough stress issues already!...

I dont want to be a one stop shop for sure.. I tried that many yrs ago with my photo stuff and it just really doesnt work. you never get absolutely flawless at anyone thing and everything is basically just good enough..

Right now due to the tumbleweeds blowing by in front of my toolbox (not alot of work here lately) im really exploring this as something more than just some extra pocket cash. Afull time carreer change, not right now, but not out of the question if I can grasp this and start turning out some really good stuff. I just dont want to be like half the techs here and rushing out of one full time job to a second one so I can get 3 hrs sleep a night just to survive right now.. I know my market isnt NY or san fran, but what it takes to be considered "bank " here,isnt nearly what it is in NY city or LA.. not that a 6 figure income isnt something i would pass up mind you... If i could get this down good enough to pull in an extra 20k+ a year, keep my full time gig for the insurance and stuff, still have time with the family etc (i can go to my kids game and type on the pc later, not worrying about a 19 yr old asst mgr lecturing me on work schedules..)then i would be happy, maybe get a few years in like that, get some things in better order before jumping full time into it. But definately want to specialize somewhere so im not trying to do everything..

Im thankful to the guy helping me out right now regardless of any bad habits he might induce on me, because he's giving me a chance at something I would have never convinced a stranger/company on my own to give me, especially since im not carrying a piece of papaer from a university in with me. at least I can build some skills while he gets better and better work for peanuts right now as a trade on his time. hopefully being able to show I can do it will count for something more than having a degree that says im supposed to be able to do it..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
I'm seeing a trend over the last 3 years of Flash advertising. More and more of them are code driven rather than frame based. If you pick up some Java Script or Java as some have suggested that learning will translate well to Actionscript. So in effect you will be learning some Flash. Good luck with your web designs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
263 Posts
A couple of things here, some of which others have already touched on.

Choose your domain. If you want to do web DESIGN, learn CSS and Javascript so you can keep up with frontend design. Dig into books on information design, graphic design and web design. Learn about UX. All about UX.

If you are more interesting in frontend development, do all of the above but skip the design books and focus more on AJAX development, Flash or Silverlight development (I'd personally go for the latter, as the market is much more in demand for that). Learn how to prototype and build quickly with your IDE of choice (Dreamweaver, Flash, Expressions, VS)

If you want to get into the back end, go back to school (trade schools generally wont cut it here), and learn software theory, then you can deep dive into whatever language you like (C#, Java, PHP, will all come naturally if you know the theory).

I spent the better part of 10 years noodling around these three areas, and settled in the first as a career. The 4th option is in branding/marketing, which is another huge arena, but you didn't seem particularly interested in that one.


Skip Dreamweaver, etc. They make you lazy and frequently you won't be able to keep the standards compliance you desire. As the standards evolve, the only tool you'll ever have that can keep up is the one in between your ears.
Piss poor advice. Yes you should learn the language. Yes you should learn good hand coding practice and maintainence.

But you will NEED a good IDE for your language of choice, no matter what you end up doing. Whether it's VI, Dreamweaver, Visual Studio, or even UltraEdit, the speed and shortcuts good IDE will give you will make a HUGE positive impact on your productivity and bottom line.

The one thing to keep in mind with any of this is that this is a saturated industry for entry level people. If you decide you really like any of the areas specifically, I would HIGHLY suggest going back for a 4yr degree from any accredited university. The difference in industry is staggering in terms of opportunity, pay, and vertical movement. Of the people I work with, the ones with degrees have an average of 7-10 years less "on the job" experience than those who just have their trade skills. The former also have routinely out-performed and been promoted far faster.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
689 Posts
Right now due to the tumbleweeds blowing by in front of my toolbox (not alot of work here lately) im really exploring this as something more than just some extra pocket cash. Afull time carreer change, not right now, but not out of the question if I can grasp this and start turning out some really good stuff. I just dont want to be like half the techs here and rushing out of one full time job to a second one so I can get 3 hrs sleep a night just to survive right now.. I know my market isnt NY or san fran, but what it takes to be considered "bank " here,isnt nearly what it is in NY city or LA.. not that a 6 figure income isnt something i would pass up mind you... If i could get this down good enough to pull in an extra 20k+ a year, keep my full time gig for the insurance and stuff, still have time with the family etc (i can go to my kids game and type on the pc later, not worrying about a 19 yr old asst mgr lecturing me on work schedules..)then i would be happy, maybe get a few years in like that, get some things in better order before jumping full time into it. But definately want to specialize somewhere so im not trying to do everything..
Not just saying that the pay is better here (which it is, but the cost of living is higher too), but there's just plain more work. A lot of agencies have centered in these areas, so they're good places to be as a freelancer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
IDE's...

Jason,

I agree with most of the comments here though my advice would be to use an IDE that doesn't have a WYSIWYG. I see too many people that are new to Web design/development rely on the IDE for the layout. It may get the job done, but you won't learn as much, and the code won't be as clean.

I'll hear some amateur Web people say "Oh, I can do that change in dreamweaver, it can do xxxxxxx" and they have no idea that it is simply modifying the HTML, which has nothing to do with Dreamweaver. They think that Dreamweaver is "magic" and that it is nothing something that Notepad, UltraEdit, Vi, can't do. In the right hands, Dreamweaver can do some cool things, but too many times they are the wrong hands.

Also, design the layout with only DIVS and CSS. Don't use tables unless there isn't much choice. It is harder and frustrating to do DIVs and CSS with browser differences, but you'll be happy in the end with a more compliant site.

You need to determine if you are going to be a designer or a developer as they are two completely different areas. Most designers couldn't code if their life depended on it and many developers are not great graphical designers. Neither is better than the other, but you need to find out where you fit. You can create a whole site without programming (ColdFusion, PHP, ASP, Perl, etc.) but it will be a nightmare if you want to do anything advanced or replicate content pieces. Some Web people can do both well, but deep down they know what they enjoy more.

Start small, create an HTML compliant site that works, and layer in programming as you have a need and learn how to use it.

HTML and CSS is not programming even though people that don't know better called it "coding".

Have fun!! :)

-Chris More

_____________________________
Cmore Racing -
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
689 Posts
The one thing to keep in mind with any of this is that this is a saturated industry for entry level people. If you decide you really like any of the areas specifically, I would HIGHLY suggest going back for a 4yr degree from any accredited university. The difference in industry is staggering in terms of opportunity, pay, and vertical movement. Of the people I work with, the ones with degrees have an average of 7-10 years less "on the job" experience than those who just have their trade skills. The former also have routinely out-performed and been promoted far faster.
I don't find that to be true (of degrees).

Although I do find that experience wins over everything, degree and all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
Degrees

I do agree that experience does win and to be really good in the Web you need to a a guru of many areas. Since to work well with the Web you should know photoshop, CSS, HTML, a few languages, regular expressions, IDE's, file systems, operating systems, databases, etc. etc.

If you are a one-man-band you need to know it all. If you work on a team of Web people you can split up the skills between people so they can focus on an area.

I'm in management in IT and nearly all the position I've hired or posted required a 4-year related degree. This usually comes from HR based on the skill set and salary range and other employees. 8 years of experience + 2 year degree is sometimes the standard for equivalent of a 4 year education. So if you had 8 years of experience, and a 2-year degree, you would probably be qualified for a job that requires a 4-year degree. This is just what I've seen and everyone does it different though the corporate world is pretty strict.

My point is that experience is great and it really makes the difference, but often times HR will say no to a candidate based solely on education levels regardless if they are a rock star Web person.

Though this is off topic... sorry...

-Chris
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
689 Posts
Maybe at more "corporate" companies, but your typical agency is more concerned about portfolio and experience. My friend is a front-end developer and I've worked with him for years. He was hired on the spot by our company, because he proved himself as a freelancer. They didn't care at all that he had only high school education.

He's been an incredible asset for the company since and is probably the best and more efficient front-end developer they've ever had.

And it's not off-topic, the OP wants career advice on this area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
thanks for all the advice.. im not really looking to be hired by a company, especially right now... in the future if a degree is necessary, then that will be what I need to do... right now I think the freelancer part of it is more of the draw than being able to work for another company. I never listened to my dad who always told me growing up that it was better to tell the guy to mop than to be the guy mopping, and the best gig was the guy who owned the floor being mopped... I am really catching on to the front end of it, although that may be becasue I have no real experience with the back end/programming. My css has come along at an extremely faster rate than did the initial html, so I think the front end and visual part of it is where I would like to go as it seems to be coming easy, although I am not claiming any sort of pro level skills in that statement... The guy im working with does alot of programming too, so im taking it one at a time and maybe getting some education from him in that area too, so I can run with that.

I got a real in depth look at dream weaver the other night from him, and I see now how you can get VERY LAZY with a tool like that. But I totally agree with what was said about how you can use it as a huge timesaver for basic markup writing. I will be investing in a copy of it soon ( im sure others are as good or better, but I know I can pick up the phone when I am stumped and ask him what dreamweaver does/how it works on the scenario).

one of you mentioned a html database will accumulate by accident, I looked last night at the number of notepad files I had from where I would see a cool site or read about something in a forum, copy the source html for that specific function etc and email it back to myself if i am at work or something, and holy crap! I didnt realize how fast they added up.. I am now sorting them into groups for more reference but yes I had a library appear overnight!

thnaks again for all the advice..

codymac: you know the crazy french guy... I would not mind ending up with something like what he is doing for sure! kind of a good mix of a couple things i like doing and am trying to do that seem to be working out REAL well for him...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
WOW! I just got a case of sticker shock on dreamweaver cs3 yesterday! Doesnt look like I will worry about getting lazy anytime soon since thaty was a motivator to keep using notepad.... I knew it wouldnt be cheap based on the upgrade price of photoshop to cs3 from my version, but it was more than my last 2 week paycheck for the full version of dreamweaver!
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top