Writing

Basic Tools for Beginning Web Designers

Web design can be exciting and fun, and a great way to express your creativity. But it can also be confusing and a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. So where do you start? There are a few basic tools you’ll want to start with:

A Book
A great book to help you get started is HTML, XHTML, and CSS All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies. This particular book is ideal because it covers just about everything you need to know in order to begin creating websites. You’ll learn the basics of:
XHTML
CSS
JavaScript
PHP
MySQL
AJAX
Depending on the type of site you are creating and how involved you want to get, you’ll use some or all of these things. When you are done with this book, you’ll have the basics mastered to create a site as simple or as complicated as you want.

What to use to create web pages
An important thing to note is that you do not want to use a word processor such as Word to create web pages. Instead, use a simple text editor that saves it as plain text with no formatting. A few options (depending on your operating system:

Linux: gEdit
Windows: Notepad
Mac: TextEdit

Validating your web pages
When you create a page, you’ll want to make sure it’s compliant. Pages that are compliant should display properly in any web browser.
The W3C Markup Validation Service is an excellent tool for validating your web pages and ensuring that they are compliant. You can validate by entering a URL, by uploading your file, or by pasting your code into a text box on the page. It will either tell you your code is compliant or it will tell you the errors you have.

Style and Color
CSS is what gives your pages style and color. This is where you’ll define text style, size and whether it’s normal, bold or italicized. This is also where you’ll determine placement of the different parts of the page, such as pictures, text and titles. You’ll also specify colors for the background, text, links and other things.
You can use a color designing tool for the colors. A good one is the Color Scheme Designer. You can choose one color and get others that go well with it. The best part of this is that you see the colors all together so you can ensure you don’t choose a color for your text that closely matches your background and makes it hard to read.

A couple of browsers
Regardless of your reason for building the site, you want as many visitors as possible. This means making sure it’s accessible to as many browsers as possible. If it’s displaying awkwardly or not at all, you need to know this so you can correct it. You need to at least have IE and Firefox to look at your site on and ensure the page looks good.

Help!
You are bound to run into at least one problem you can’t solve. When that happens, employ one of the countless websites that has information, tutorials, videos and tips to help you. You can also join a web design forum where you can get other real people to look at your code and help you.

4 Make Your Work a Permalink for Clients: Three Tips for Web Designers
Since the early 90’s, the profession of web design has come a long way. New, more efficient software in programming elements and imaging have developed over the years which help web designers use their talents to appeal to clients. However, web design software alone doesn’t do the job of attracting more clients, it is the web designer who has to take the initiative to produce work that grabs their clients’ and prospective clients’ attention. There are three tips for web designers that want to attract more clients.
Be Knowledgeable in HTML: HTML means “Hyper Text Mark up Language” and HTML is necessary to know how the website you are creating is programmed to work. Many web designers have a coder, or web programmer, that handles the HTML format for the websites they create. Being knowledgeable in HTML helps you become more of an expert in the web designing field. When you know how to provide pleasing aesthetics for a website and also know the mechanics of how the website works, it makes you more of a reliable source, rather than a liability, for clients in case of a website emergency.
Know Your Clientele’s Needs: A successful web designer knows its clientele’s needs. As a web designer, a company hires you in order to convey the message that they would like to give to their audience. Although it takes some creative vision to become a web designer, you have to listen to your client. What is it that they want to communicate to their audience? What colors are most compelling to the business that they have in order to increase their success? Whether it is a restaurant, dance studio, sewage plant, etc, each business has certain colors, text or layouts that help to attract customers to gain more visibility and increase in business. Collaborating with your client and listening to what the company needs can help you create websites that your clients will be pleased with; gaining you a loyal customer and perhaps more business by word of mouth referrals.
Effective Marketing: As a web designer, marketing should be a no brainier, because without effective marketing, your web designing efforts (especially if you are a freelance web designer) to gain more business would fail. The internet is a perfect place to gain exposure to increase your web design clientele. Using social networking sites, such as: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can help you showcase your skills as well as get your name out there to the right people. Also, creating a portfolio of your best sites will help you to showcase your skills and gain more visibility to prospective clients.
Becoming a web designer takes a combination of education, creativity and desire to produce websites that convey a message to your clients’ audience. By becoming more knowledgeable in HTML, knowing your clientele’s needs, and using techniques for effective marketing, you will be sure to attract more clients and notice an increase in your workload.

5 Superior Customer Service Makes a Web Designer Stand Out

Once upon a time, in a different life, I worked for a small web development company in Western Massachusetts. The company was blessed with an obscenely talented group of programming professionals and designers. But the most valuable lessons we learned cannot be learned from a book, a class or pouring over code.
The place where many web professionals fail is on the human side of the business. I don’t mean sales, although that’s part of it. I mean customer service and interaction. It’s not just about the code. If you can give your clients better service than your competitors, you’ll grow your business faster than you ever thought possible. And one of the best ways to do that is so simple, it’s amazing how frequently it doesn’t happen.
Listen to your clients. Really listen. They’ll tell you what they want and need. Unless what they are asking for is literally impossible or they cannot afford it, give them what they want. If you can’t do it, tell them why. If you think you can give them what they want, but more efficiently, or better, tell them that too. But if your client insists, do what they ask. They are the ones paying you.
Don’t assume you know everything about their business, or that you know it better than they do. Your business is web development and programming. There’s a lot of overlap in the business world, and frequently, solutions for one company will work just as well for a similarly sized company in a different industry. But chances are that if your customer tells you how their business works, even if it doesn’t make sense to you, they’re probably right.
The company I used to work for had a big problem with this. The powers that be often tried to shoehorn clients into solutions that we’d developed for others simply to save on development costs. Sometimes, it worked. But when it didn’t, it tended to blow up spectacularly, with bad feelings and threats of lawsuits. Nobody wants to deal with that, and if it happens too often, word gets around. And that’s much worse.
You can be just as obscenely talented us the programmers of that company I worked for. You might be able to make bits dance on the head of a pin at your command. But if you don’t have any customers, you’ll starve.