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  1. #1
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    The best way to get started

    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$$

  • #2
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    The best way to get started – and work towards getting the “pro feel” to your website is to learn HTML and CSS until it’s your second language and read up on best practices in website design (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.

  • #3
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    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.

  • #4
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by gnomeontherun; 05-11-2009 at 11:00 AM.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
    Educated questions often get educated answers, and simple questions often get simple answers.

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  • #5
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    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.

  • #6
    Supreme Master coder! abduraooft's Avatar
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    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by VIPStephan
    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.
    The Dream is not what you see in sleep; Dream is the thing which doesn't let you sleep. --(Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam)

  • #7
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    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.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
    Educated questions often get educated answers, and simple questions often get simple answers.

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    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)
    Already have some graphics banners and stuff designed in photoshop.

    Again Thanks for the replies

    Ru$$

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    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    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 and apply your graphics and do some minor adjustments to the code.

  • #10
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    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.

  • #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumigator View Post

    I mean no offense with any of this by the way...
    No offence taken.

    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

  • #12
    Senior Coder djm0219's Avatar
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    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
    Dave .... HostMonster for all of your hosting needs

  • #13
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    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$$

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ru$$ View Post
    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/dreamw...?promoid=BPDEC
    OracleGuy

  • #15
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    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$$
    Last edited by Ru$$; 05-11-2009 at 10:02 PM.


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