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View Full Version : The best way to get started



Ru$$
05-10-2009, 09:16 AM
Hello.
I am new here and appologise if this is a silly question.
What is the best way to start building websites. What i mean by this is it best to just use coding or use a program like Microsoft ------- / dreamweaver.
I did a website about 3 years ago using frontpage. It came out well but lacked the pro feel. Prob could of made it look better if i had used better design concepts and thought about it a bit more.
I have decided that i really want to get into web design.
I am a 35 year old full time dad so going to college is out. What is the best way to get started and best products to use.

Ru$$

VIPStephan
05-10-2009, 11:28 AM
The best way to get started – and work towards getting the “pro feel” to your website is to learn HTML and CSS (http://htmldog.com/) until it’s your second language and read up on best practices in website design (http://webdesignfromscratch.com/) (in a nutshell: content first, layout second).

And then don’t use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor! You can use frontpage or Dreamweaver but only in code view. Never rely on the design view of any of these editors. Only what you see in a real browser (and test in many of them while developing) is what you’ll get.

woop
05-10-2009, 04:01 PM
Well, I agree that you need to understand basic HTML and CSS first, because if you rely on WYSIWYG you will make mistakes. WYSIWYG is great, and it's time saving, so I use Dreamweaver with split view. It's very useful. It's important to inspect what the program does for you as you go. The cursor could be outside a paragraph element end tag and you may be unaware of that while you insert code. Maybe the end tag isn't there for whatever reason. It may look alright in one browser and not in another, because some browsers actually fix open tags, but this is just one of the reasons the code is important to inspect.

gnomeontherun
05-11-2009, 10:58 AM
I think you should actually think about what area of web development/design you think you are interested in. Its a rather diverse field these days.

I think most anyone will agree its important to know HTML/CSS, but from there what would you like to do? Do you want to design small sites or something larger that might require the usage of a management system? Do you like the design aspect or more about coding? You might not know yet, but its good to reflect before jumping in too far.

Either way, get a book about HTML and CSS. Learning online is good, but provides you with a less direct trajectory for your learning. Basically if you learn with a book (a good one I mean) you will learn things in a logical order. Learning online typically means you will jump around from topic to topic and have gaps in your understanding. Also get a book about design principles if you are interested in designing sites, or get a book about basic programming (I'd suggest PHP) if you like programming more.

Its important to investigate a little more about the areas of web development at the start.

Ru$$
05-11-2009, 11:56 AM
Thanks for the advise.

At the moment i feel like i would like to design and make small wesites. Then take it from there.
I have just bought a book "brilliant HTML & CSS" by James A. Brannan
and also building web sites all in one for dummies.

I dont have a copy of frontpage anymore but am using microsoft publisher to build a website at the moment. This is all part of office 2007. Thinking about getting Dreamweaver as can prob get it for 100. Have just been given photoshop elements 6 today by a mate.

Looks like a lot of reading whilst messing with publisher to see how far i get.

abduraooft
05-11-2009, 12:13 PM
I dont have a copy of frontpage anymore but am using microsoft publisher to build a website at the moment. This is all part of office 2007. Thinking about getting Dreamweaver as can prob get it for 100. Have just been given photoshop elements 6 today by a mate.

And then don’t use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor! You can use frontpage or Dreamweaver but only in code view. Never rely on the design view of any of these editors. Only what you see in a real browser (and test in many of them while developing) is what you’ll get.
I second! Always hand code using some editors like Notepad++, which will help you to improve your coding skills a lot.

gnomeontherun
05-11-2009, 12:52 PM
Stop! Don't touch Publisher, there is nothing it can help you with. Web coding should never be done with a program that is designed to make print documents.

I used to use Dreamweaver all the time (code view of course) but I wouldn't start with it. As noted above, its important to get away from Frontpage (its not even made anymore, its now recreated as Microsoft Expression Web), and Dreamweaver is great IF you have a strong foundational knowledge. Otherwise it gets all too easy to just rely on the 'knowledge' of the program than to learn how it really works. There are actually a lot of reasons, but I also recommend using Notepad++, I dropped all fancy programs for it. Its simple, fast, and yet does some cool things.

Coding is about learning how to code without a program telling you whats best. Its a bit scary to just type plain code and not be able to see your progress, but it will help prepare you for the mindset you need. Its just as much about 'thinking code' as it is 'knowing code', if that makes sense. Kind of like knowing about the parts of a car and being able to make adjustments to your car is one level of knowledge, you really want to aim for the level at which you could build that car yourself without prebuilt sections.

Ru$$
05-11-2009, 02:00 PM
That all makes a lot of sense. I agree with what you are saying.

However i have a very slight problem. I have agreed to do a small website for my daughters school. Need to crack on with it sooner rather than later. I realise that this goes against everything you have just posted but what would be the best way about doing this. (obviously learn code but i dont have time to learn it and do this web site in next few weeks. Really dont want to let people down)
I am reading all the time adout coding as have taken onboard your post.

The microsoft publisher has a web site building program in it. What would be the best way to build this site. Get another program maybe!.(only to do this site I PROMISE:o)
Already have some graphics banners and stuff designed in photoshop.

Again Thanks for the replies

Ru$$

VIPStephan
05-11-2009, 02:55 PM
Well, nobody will sue you for using a progam to create the site for you but if you decide to do so sooner or later you should review it and clean up the mess that the program created. You can even export a sliced graphic from Photoshop (ImageReady) or Fireworks (CS4 even does CSS layouts as I have heard) and have your website instantly.

If you have a graphical layout already then you may be able to use a prefabricated generic CSS layout from BonRouge (http://bonrouge.com/3c-hf-fluid-lc.php) and apply your graphics and do some minor adjustments to the code.

Fumigator
05-11-2009, 05:17 PM
It's funny how having done a site 3 years ago can put you in a position of agreeing to take on a project such as a school web site. School web sites can be enormous projects, if you want to make it something parents can use to get instant feedback about how their kids are doing, and a tool for teachers to use for ciriculum and grade tracking, and teacher blogs, and maybe even student interaction... etc... etc...

But if you're just doing a "small" site, which undoubtedly is going to mushroom into something much bigger (get ready for the question "can we have teachers log in and post grades for parents to look at?"), then a quick-n-dirty design tool will probably do fine.

An analogy comes to mind... Let's say you replaced the brake pads on your car 3 years ago. A friend of yours finds out you did this, and asks you if you can please put a new transmission in his car. Not wanting to say no, and believing putting a new transmission in can't be much more difficult than replacing brake pads, you agree to take on the project. Three months later.... you can imagine ;)

I mean no offense with any of this by the way... it's just an interesting observation to me that most people assume making websites is easy and takes very little time to do.

Ru$$
05-11-2009, 05:29 PM
I mean no offense with any of this by the way...

No offence taken.:D:thumbsup:

Its is going to be a very small site as they want it similar to one that is done by another primary school in the area which has been written by the teachers and kids. This is why i said i would do it. I do understand that i cannot just use a program and design and make a pro looking website.
All they want is a little bit of info about the school. Prob no bigger than about 4 pages.

Ru$$

Ps any comments are always welcome as that is why i came on the forum in the first place :thumbsup:

djm0219
05-11-2009, 05:39 PM
As Fumigator said, those 4 pages will almost certainly blossom into many more once people start liking them and starting thinking of other "little things" they'd like to add :)

Ru$$
05-11-2009, 05:44 PM
They do understand that i have only every created one website before. If they wanted more then it would be time to hand it over to someone else or let them wait until i was able (if at all) to expand.

:)
Ru$$

oracleguy
05-11-2009, 05:48 PM
I dont have a copy of frontpage anymore but am using microsoft publisher to build a website at the moment. This is all part of office 2007. Thinking about getting Dreamweaver as can prob get it for 100. Have just been given photoshop elements 6 today by a mate.

You can try before you buy, there is a free trial version which I believe works for 30 days. http://www.adobe.com/products/dreamweaver/?promoid=BPDEC

Ru$$
05-11-2009, 05:59 PM
Thanks.

Downloaded trial version 3 days ago. yes it does last for 30 days.

Not sure if i should use it for this site as might take longer than trial version lasts. ??

Would it be of good use if i did buy it. Realise that understanding the code is important. Lots of people say get it. lots say dont. Personal choice or educated choice. Would getting it and learning about code help me develop quicker.

Ru$$

gnomeontherun
05-12-2009, 12:16 AM
If you really want DW (Dreamweaver), perhaps the school can purchase it at a discount rate. They can get an education version pretty reasonable. Its really preference, but if you use it now and choose not to use it later, there really is nothing forcing you to keep using it. Its HTML, not some proprietary code. You can always switch editors without any issues.

bazz
05-12-2009, 01:53 AM
No offence taken.:D:thumbsup:

Its is going to be a very small site as they want it similar to one that is done by another primary school in the area which has been written by the teachers and kids. This is why i said i would do it.

You have just taken on a huge challenge. You are up against kids - the world's most adept species for picking up new technologies. :eek:

Seriously though, I would suggest you begine smally. (is that a word) As soon as you have built it as expected, then, if they ask for more, make sure they know it will take time. letting peole down is not about failing to deliver.. it includes delivering late. so set your timescales realistically to give you time to finish and test. I expect if will become bigger than first imagined again, because of human natures determination to progress.

my 2c

bazz

_Aerospace_Eng_
05-12-2009, 05:38 AM
FYI Dreamweaver isn't cheap. If you purchase it now and decide you don't want to do HTML any more you've wasted a lot of money. I would only recommend Dreamweaver to professional web developers. These would be people who have done web development for years and have built up a reputation for being good at what they do. If you don't know the standards in HTML then I suggest you don't buy it. Learn HTML/CSS in and out before you spend the money on DW. There are some free alternatives out there that would work just as well. DW has some features that useful on larger sites such as built in ftp, php code hinting, sql connections, php snippets.

ferrisskeith
05-12-2009, 01:03 PM
In my case, I started with iWeb. Yes, that's really funny but as I became tired of the interface, I went with the free html editors like NVU or Kompozer, then I bought dreamweaver after I learned most of the stuff i know.

In my opinion, if you jump in immediately to dreamweaver without prior coding experience, you will only get intimidated and hence, DW will just be a waste of money because you won't even use it.

Good luck! :)

Ru$$
05-12-2009, 01:10 PM
Thanks.
Reading reading and more reading.


There are some free alternatives out there that would work just as well.

What is a good free program to use. Also anyone know a very good book that i should read. I have a book "Brilliant HTML & CSS".( not sure that it is very good but will give me some basics to work on) After i have read it what would be a good one to enhance learning.

Thank you all very much for this great advice.

Ru$$

_Aerospace_Eng_
05-12-2009, 03:09 PM
There is Notepad++, Kompozer which is very similar to DW interface. HTML-Kit. Again the code view in these programs is the way to go. I keep noticing this book in search results.

Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML

My only issue is it hasn't been updated in a few years but it seems to teach you the updated methods anyways.

Fumigator
05-12-2009, 04:50 PM
Head First books are generally really good at getting you to an understanding of the concepts.

mit
05-13-2009, 07:55 AM
Hello.
I am new here and appologise if this is a silly question.
What is the best way to start building websites. What i mean by this is it best to just use coding or use a program like Microsoft ------- / dreamweaver.
I did a website about 3 years ago using frontpage. It came out well but lacked the pro feel. Prob could of made it look better if i had used better design concepts and thought about it a bit more.
I have decided that i really want to get into web design.
I am a 35 year old full time dad so going to college is out. What is the best way to get started and best products to use.

Ru$$

Frontpage is for newbies..Dreamweaver is a good web designing HTML tool. The best way to get started with web designing is to learn CSS and HTML. There is a good website out there - http://www.w3.org/

Best of Luck.

bazz
05-13-2009, 12:23 PM
w3schools.com can be good for beginners/re-freshers.

I must look up the head first books. They sound promising and my own knowledge has been built up in a totally unstructured way so I am surely lacking in knowledge somewhere.

bazz

Ru$$
05-13-2009, 04:37 PM
Thanks for all the support.

:) :thumbsup:

Ru$$

freedom_razor
05-14-2009, 03:58 PM
If you want to build 4 page simple site for school, HTML/CSS code you need to know and write is going to be simple, and little of it. Really no point in investing money in a tool [like Dreamweaver] you won't really need.

I use Notepad++, and recommend it for coding. It is free, and it does its job very well, though it doesn't have built-in script libraries etc. [not that you will need them at this stage].
As for books, I've seen two of the Head First series and they do seem like a good start. But personally, for HTML I'd just use online resources [because it isn't complicated enough, IMO] and get a book for CSS, like 'CSS: The Definitive Guide' by Eric Meyer.
Check your library, maybe they have something there, and you can have a 'sneak preview' before you buy. [different people like different books]

The 'pro feel' usually attributed to websites is based only on visuals. Most people who do not know how to code base their opinion on what they see. The code can be a nightmare full of errors, but if there are nice shiny graphics to cover it up, often the site 'feels pro' :). And often [not always], as soon as there are signs of using WYSIWYG editor to make a website, the chances of it being really pro disappear.

Look on the web for templates, HTML and CSS website templates that you can download for free, and then modify [or not] and use for your website. Provided you find one you really like, or the one you can modify to really like it, :) - the only things you'll have to do is to add content to it. And while you modify it/add content - you can experiment and learn.

And if it really goes all bad, there's this very cool place on the net called codingforums.com where you can go and ask your questions, have your problems sorted out, and generally get help. :) Good luck.

lana2000
05-15-2009, 04:25 AM
I thought these days no one hard code html/php programs as you can buy a script of your interest and mange it through the admin panel that comes with the script ....

kibaki20
05-15-2009, 06:41 AM
The best way to make pro websites is to learn XHTML and CSS. And the best and easiest way to learn XHML and CSS is to buy a book called "Head First XHTML and CSS" search it on Amazon.com and you will see it.

Ru$$
05-16-2009, 11:01 AM
Thank you everyone.

:thumbsup:

Ru$$

markgriffith
05-16-2009, 11:16 PM
I am also very new, though I learned {very basic} HTML some years ago.

A simple site I can recommend for people like me is the Web Diner at http://www.webdiner.com/ - just the right level for those of us who have done very little with computers over the years!

ajhp3
05-17-2009, 07:23 AM
Hey Russ,

If ya run into a jam in the coding, lemme know and id be happy to help ya out.

AJ

Ru$$
05-18-2009, 11:26 AM
Thanks all. Just started to write from scratch using notepad ++. Slow going but it does make it all worth while.
Great forum.

Ru$$

LSJ
05-19-2009, 12:49 AM
Hi RU$$,

Dreamweaver CS4 has been a great investment for me even though I hand code everything. I don't know of a better WYSIWYG tool in existence. If you are committed to learning / practicing web design for the long haul and can afford it - I say go for it!

In terms of learning the basics, you should check out the W3Schools website: http://www.w3schools.com/ It was absolutely vital to me when I was first learning XHTML / CSS.

I recommend going through all the tutorials, trying everything out, taking the quizzes, and then investing in a few good books to start learning fancier stuff...

Good luck!

P.S. I know you can't go back to school FT, but if you could take a class here and there at the local University Extension the student pricing on software is excellent (or at least it is at my school!) the discounts were deep enough to make up for what I spent on tuition...

JamesBrannan
05-20-2009, 02:37 AM
Thanks for the advise.

At the moment i feel like i would like to design and make small wesites. Then take it from there.
I have just bought a book "brilliant HTML & CSS" by James A. Brannan
and also building web sites all in one for dummies.

I dont have a copy of frontpage anymore but am using microsoft publisher to build a website at the moment. This is all part of office 2007. Thinking about getting Dreamweaver as can prob get it for 100. Have just been given photoshop elements 6 today by a mate.

Looks like a lot of reading whilst messing with publisher to see how far i get.

Wow, somebody bought my book. This is cool, you are the first person I know that bought the book. Please note, I will be putting up an errata on my website to be developed soon (Google my name in about a month). The first thing you need to know is that on page 9 its Quirks mode, not Quicks mode...don't know how the copyediter changed that one :eek:.... Dreaweaver is good, avoid FrontPage or anything Microsoft for web development IMHO

Ru$$
05-20-2009, 08:20 AM
Hi James, The book is great reading. Would def advise anyone starting out like me to buy it. Working through it page by page and making a lot of sence out of it.

Russ



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