Mary asked how I learned web page design, and if I took any classes.
In 2001-2002, I decided after playing around online for a few years that I was an expert and bought a domain, this domain. I used a standard online template editor thing and my site looked something like this.
Then I started looking for programs that would let me create something myself, and tried to figure out how to upload it – where to upload it – and get it to display online. In 2003, my website went through several updates and changes while I taught myself html, tables, rollovers – with a WYSIWIG editor called IBM Websphere. It used to be very purple. I also used to have a gazillion pages that I had to hand code, upload, and make all the navigation work together on individual pages. Looking back on that? Ick.
In 2004, I went from green to my pumpkin/gold color I got another new look, with a new color. That has been my primary color palette since then, too. I was still in the table based layout thing, but I was finding sites and galleries that were using this thing called PHP. I had no idea what that was, so I started Googling it and trying to find a program that would let me write PHP in a WYSIWIG way, like IBM Websphere did with tables. I tried a couple of things – but quite honestly I just didn’t get it. I was blogging at the time on LiveJournal, so that didn’t help me learn anything at all – their templating system either assumed you knew PHP or gave you a variety of free themes to choose from. I switched over to Blogger, where I caught my first glimpse and understanding of how it all worked. How information is stored in a database and delivered through PHP code in the form of div tags and stylesheets – but once again, I ran into a brick wall, because I didn’t understand div tags or stylesheets, either.
I swear, you’d think I’d have given up by then – but no, I forged onward, determined to learn it (because I’m cheap, that’s why).
Somewhere along the line I Googled for templates. Themes. Designs. And I found some. And I studied them – and I started to develop a basic understanding of the role CSS played in how things displayed. I’ve always sortof known what the code meant, how it was supposed to work – I can read it just fine. I just didn’t know how to write it, or where it all stemmed from – where the master list with the shortcuts was kept.
I knew how to make graphics. That was not a big issue, although I did need to really get much more familiar with PSP to take my graphic design to the next level, too. (And I’ll keep going with that, getting Draw and Painter as I get more advanced.) I Google the things I want to learn, and look for tutorials online for some things – many of the things I just visualize in my head and make it happen.
The next challenge was that I needed to make the whole design as a graphic first, and then *know* as I was designing in PSP how I would cut the graphics up into little pieces and how they would come together in the stylesheet. I needed to incorporate the PHP, knowing what information that code was calling to pull into what space and where, and how to wrap something pretty looking around that information.
I’m a hands on kind of girl. I bought CSS Mastery and refer to it on occasion, but most of the time I teach myself as I’m creating it, live on my design blog. (Another resource: CSS for Dummies) I have another installation of WordPress where I code up all of my graphics, tweak them, and write the stylesheet. I did refer to other stylesheets for a while, and I also was fortunate enough to find a mentor in Lisa – after I taught myself the basics and could stand on my own 10 fingers most of the time. I also did some free designs to get more familiar with stylesheets – but you really do need to be careful about doing things for free, because you might find some people expecting things for free once you’ve got yourself established.
Thankfully, there’s a wealth of information available to learn from all over the internet that offer up free information. I have a bunch of them linked on under design resources, and I am more than happy to share my resources with anyone willing to try to figure things out and learn it themselves.
As for my current status, I’m still learning. I feel much more comfortable now with what I know – but I also know that I don’t know it all, and probably never will. At the rate things change and grow on the internet, that is an impossibility – but I am determined to stay current (and browser upgrades will force me to do that), and determined to continue growing and maturing with the code.