After nine months of intense web design training, I can finally say that I am comfortable and (mostly) confident in basic HTML and CSS. I have a plethora of experience, both good and bad, when it comes to learning and studying the design of a website and how to code, and loads of advice for the youngens entering Intro to Web in the fall.
For starters, it would have been extremely helpful for me to understand what “website design” actually entails. I knew nothing; I didn’t know what HTML was, or CSS, or 960 grids, or even the extent of the importance of pixel dimensions (and their accuracy). My lack of knowledge reflected in my first few weeks in Web class. I would recommend for students who know absolutely nothing about Website design to just read a few articles like this one on In Motion Hosting‘s website, or an introduction to the introduction of web design book. I’m not saying to read an extensive book about HTML coding and CSS mastery—just get an introduction to what the course will involve. Intro to Web students should, and definitely have the resources to, understand what they are getting into. Also, I wish I hadn’t been scared of the Internet and designing for it. Being scared only makes learning about it worse.
While in class, the first and best resource to use would be your good ol’ textbook: Interact With Web Standards.
The best piece of advice I can give to a future student is to READ!! and do the reading assignments—every single one of them. The book gives information, examples, and even online samples of the lessons to assist students if they are struggling. This was something I definitely did not take advantage of.
Also, another more than helpful resource is Professor Blake. It may seem annoying to e-mail him at ridiculous hours of the night, or bother him during his office hours with seemingly silly questions, but in reality, Blake is more than willing to help someone figure out a problem. In addition to helping solve issues, Blake can give you additional info to make the next time your coding or designing a little easier.
Online articles, and blogs are also useful tools to the up and coming web designer. Here, there are tutorials with step-by-step instructions for specific code and designs when building a site. However, some articles are great, and some are really, really bad. If a student wants to explore some new and useful tips on the Internet, I would suggest going to a well know site or blog. Some of my favorites include Smashingmagazine.com, Webdesignerdepot.com, or Thinkvitamin.com.
If you have no clue what web design is, the next thirty-two weeks will be rough, but doable. Just keep an open mind, study, PRACTICE, make sample pages, learn things from your peers, and friends in other classes. It wouldn’t hurt to make a friend with an older student who has taken (and passed with flying colors) Web design class before.