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Also there is a third option which i am currently undertaking which is i have quit work and am full time at home learning various aspects of web developement eg php,coldfusion, mysql ,css etc. I am finding this fun as i set out to start my own web development business.
Do you think i should stick it out on my own as that is what i would love to do but am worried it will be a long time before i am able to design quality websites?
All your views will be much appreciated thankyou very much
I would strongly suggest that you find a reputable local career counsellor who after a day of interviews and psychometric testing will be in a position to answer your questions with some degree of accuracy.
The problem is, finding an internet job is a bit difficult. I have to admit I fell into mine by lucky accident. Most others I have talked to said the same about starting out.
Don't worry about quality websites. Plenty of people here don't make what most would consider to be quality and they still make a killing. Have any doubt, look at Jakob Neilson's (sp?) website. The man makes a fortune in consulting and is considered to be one of the heavy weights on the web and his site looks like it was designed by a 10 year old.
Jump into it head first and learn by your mistakes. I would bet that 85% of the people here did the same thing.
Don't worry about quality websites.
That is probably the WORST piece of advice I have ever heard about becoming a web professional. Sure, there are a lot of crap sites out there that make money, but why would you design a lousy site on purpose when it is just as easy to make a clean, quality site?
IMHO, quality equals professional. Joe surfer is more apt to buy a widget from a clean, well-designed site than a site with blinking text and some cheezy midi file playing in the background. If you strive to be a professional, people will respect you as a professional.
Your goal should be perfection, not mediocrity.
I also agree that you _MUST_ know how to build quality web sites.
I get CV's daily and they all boast all these degrees and diplomas but I ignore them all and go straight for the sites they have designed. A degree tells me nothing other than they know how to design a site people were making back in the 90's.
In 500 or so CV's I've had one, and I mean just a single one, who knew how to design a good quality site (and more importantly in the UK now a legal web site).
If I get 2 CV's and one has diplomas and degrees all over the place and the other has no qualifications at all but has designed 2 or 3 really nice sites then the person with no qualifications will always get the job.
It takes years to understand how to design a good site, to understand browser quirks and include the quirks in the site design, to know the laws, to know how to design a site so that a blind person on a text-to-speech reader can access the site with ease. The list goes on but you get the idea. web design is much more than knocking up a website in frontpage or dreamweaver and no course that I know of teaches this.
I agree with the consensus that a degree in web design per se is not worth the cost or time. The industry changes very quickly, and your textbooks and the curriculum need to go through review processes that will make them a couple of years behind the industry.
Take care you do not read that as saying "a degree of any kind will be worthless." A university program in language or writing will help you to think analytically and to communicate your ideas better. A degree in business might be a valuable headstart when setting up the accounting or developing a business plan for your own shop. And if you don't go on your own, most large companies have (admittedly arbitrary) certain degree expectations for certain positions or departments. The important thing is that outside of schoolwork, you're building websites and learning the technical skills on your own-- and a university is a place where you can build a large portfolio very easily.
You aren't going to learn the technical stuff with a degree like this. If there's a school that will teach you that, it's either a technical school or training program. My experience at college was that they teach you the overall concepts, and once you have those, you can apply them to any language or platform you want to learn.
HOWEVER, the methods in which they teach are more efficient and beneficial to you in the long run.
Take for example myself: I took a lower division basic data structures class, and we had to program a functional, non-gui, scientific calculator in C (using malloc, realloc, alloc - meaning we took care of our own memory management). The problem me and and most of the class had was that - WE NEVER TOOK A FREAKIN' CLASS IN C! This is not to scare you in any way, but because of the steep learning curve (learning basic data structures and programming C), you actually learn how to program yourself. The university teaches you how to understand and apply theories and concepts. Learning a new tool (i.e. programming language, development environment (OS), database, etc.) should be up to you.
Personally, I never need to go to a programming class ever again. I am able to teach myself any new languages as needed. Now I can focus more on going to business classes to make more money. And quality doesn't suffer, because you know what is good just by having an education about your industry.
Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, etc. are all tools that help you achiever your end product. Thinking like a business man, you need to cut costs in as many places as possible. Instead of taking a class in learning how to use these tools, click on Help>Tutorial to get started. Then if you want more practice, get a book. If you want a plethora more of knowledge, go to webmasterworld. I understand it is really hard to learn on your own (especially in terms of time), but if you really wanna get in this business, the time and effort investment will be worth it. Remember, you always want to cut as much startup costs as possible.
Don't worry about quality websites.
I didn't mean that he shouldn't strive for them. I simply meant that he shouldn't use it as an excuse not to put a website up. One learns much from trial and error. He will learn much faster by putting up a possibly junky site and seeing what goes wrong rather than trying to aim for perfection before even attempting anything.
But from a money perspective, it wasn't bad advice. I do know lots of bad sites that make good money. If he's looking for a career, he doesn't necessarily need to know how to make quality sites, just sites that make money. Of course, then again, perhaps the definition of quality varies from person to person.
When I first went online (1994) everything was clean and simple because most people (like me then) only had a 2,400 modem. During the late 90's everyone went mad on huge graphic based design and flash. Then people noticed sales dropping and the length of time people stayed on the site reduced and there was a very good reason for this:
When I was on a modem I was prepared to wait upto 15 seconds for a page to load because I was used to waiting.
Now I'm on BB and I'm used to pages loading fast I will wait on average 2 or 3 seconds and if the page hasn't loaded by then I put it down to slow site or server and hit the back button.
The most successful site I've ever done was one I made back in 1997 when I had my first paying client. The site is as basic as you can get and yet it's making my client so much money he quit his job and is now living in a 3/4million pound mansion. I have made 7 other sites for him with varying degrees of design and still the sites that are simple are the ones that are earning the money.
Jacob's site is a great example. I don't want to go there and wait for hundreds of KB's of graphics to load. I'm going there for information only. If it loads instantly and I can navigate the site simply that is all I need and it is this that sells.
Yes you can make a nice looking site but it must be fast loading and simple to navigate.
Just my opinion.