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How do you become a webmaster?

How to learn web design and development

11:37 am on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hi all,
I have decided to learn web design and development and would greatly appreciate your views on the best way to achieve this. I have already started an html course and would like to know what else I am going to need to learn and what software I need ie. flash, photoshop, dreamweaver etc.

So my question is, what do I need to learn in order to become a proficient webmaster and what are the software essentials?

Many thanks in advance.

2:35 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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All you need to start is whatever text editor is shipped with your PC. Once you have mastered some basic coding you will have a good idea of what you need for your particular requirements.

Don't spend money on top of the range software like Photoshop and Dreamweaver until you are sure you really need more than is provided by free programs such as Irfanview and NVU.

3:17 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Dive in! :) I'm a hand's on kind of guy, books don't do much for me and neither have classes. Besides all the information you'll ever need is at your fingertips.

One thing i would suggest is installing something like Xampp . You'll be getting a little ahead of yourself doing it but once you get the basic html and css down you can start exploring php or other server side programming.

The very basics of all three (html, css and programming) are practically essential.

The programming part just makes life a lot easier even if its just using basic includes. :)

10:03 am on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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There is a series of "Visual Quickstart" books and guides from a really Peachy publisher. My recommendation would be to start with them (first one should be on "HTML, XHTML, and CSS", then go to either "CSS, DHTML, & Ajax" or the one on PHP & MySQL" (depending on where you want to go). Even books on XML, JavaScript, etc.. (and even CS3 if you really get into it).

Read and learn. Then, when you think you know it all, read some more. There is also a ton of great information on this forum for web programming (separated by language, even). Dive into those forums.

Read, read, practice, read, read, practice, read some more. When you think you know enough, go back and then read some more. :)

6:56 pm on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thankyou all for your comments, greatly appreciated.
10:27 pm on June 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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welcome to WebmasterWorld, richy!
8:47 pm on June 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I suggest the free tutorial that I started with: [mcli.dist.maricopa.edu ]. It teaches the basics concisely yet casually.

After that, I reccomend reading "Learning Web Design [oreilly.com]" by Jennifer Niederst. This book really digs in. It presents excellent material in an easy-to-understand way.

Last but not least I reccomend [w3schools.com ] - it is a great reference for all skill levels. It has PHP tutorials also. It is 100% free.

Hope this helps!

9:59 pm on June 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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While you should have a basic feeling for design, I'd draw a sharp line between webmaster and webdesigner.
In my perspective, a webmaster is a tech-guy, not a designer. He takes care of running the websites and knows alot about alot of technical things.
As a webmaster you should be fluent in the common scripting-languages, xhtml, css and javascript. You should know how to crop images and save them in the right type but you don't have to be a designer, since that's a completely different issue.

On all the jobs I've worked on as a webmaster, designing the actual site was a task for some specialist who understands the web but also has a gift for design.
My task involved setting up the website, sometimes converting the screendesign into actual templates, sometimes just giving those template to the designer.
Let's face it, while you can (more or less easily) learn the tech-stuff, you won't learn design-skills if you don't have them already. Whenever I tried to design a site, I ended up with black text on white background and some monochrome navigation. That's not working anymore after 1995. And it takes alot of time -- time you should spend otherwise, esp. if you know the technical stuff. Designers I work with don't have a clue about javascript, some don't even know about ftp, and they don't have to. They know the ins and outs of photoshop or whatever tool they like and they know how to punch out a unique, fitting design for the website they're working on.

To sum it up, I'd leave the designing part out and focus on technical knowledge. Start with xhtml, css and javascript. Once you feel safe around those, step up the server-side scripting languages like php or perl (I'd recommend perl to start with because php hides alot from you. while that might seem like an advantage, it really isn't - you will run into problems if you don't know the environment, e.g. how HTTP works etc). If you can set up you own website, that's perfect, because you can learn everything you need to know in building and publishing it. Take a detour into search engine optimization and general online marketing (e.g. "how do i get people to visit my creation?"). And of course, the most important thing and the one you already mastered: talk about it, read the boards and follow discussions, even if you don't know what they're talking about in the beginning. There are always brighter people out there and they deliver nice things and teach great lessons. The community is of priceless value to anyone who wants to make it in this business.

10:13 pm on June 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Previous reply pretty much covered it. Me personally I'm lucky in that at my main company (9-5) I have a design team that handle most of the aesthetics and an IT team who handle the behind the scenes server type issues, whats left for me to take care of is basically the html and css coding, the seo and the ppc. When I take on jobs outside of my main employment this departments become priceless resources of knowledge.

If you plan to be a webmaster i'd say that off the bat good html and css is a must and you should have basic seo knowledge to ensure your site is fulfilling its potential. Once you're confident with these start branching out to different areas such as learning javascript and learning how to get the most from adobe products like photoshop, illustrator and flash. All these skills will compliment your foundation and over time, improvements in your skillset will lead to natural interest in related fields and thus you will continue to grow.
11:08 am on June 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Many thanks for your comments and advice.

I must admit that after about 200hrs of study (approx 20hrs per week) I have become a tad disillusioned. The more I study, the more I realise there is to learn, I can spend a full day studying and at the end of that day feel like I have taken huge leaps backwards.

I am an industrial electrician by trade, my plan is to create a professional website for the construction industry. The primary content will be industry news, regulation updates, reviews on new materials, tools, methods etc.
There will be a forum similar to this one, including a section for those looking for a career in construction with advice about qualifications, nearest colleges etc.
The site will also sell power tools, hi value gas and electric test instruments and relevant books. (my motivation is financial)

Maybe I have been a tad niaive in thinking that I could study for a few months then create this kind of website. I am at a stage now where I can build an OK, amateurish site but am a million miles from where I need to be.

I'm not going to give up, but there's so much to learn! Did anyone else go through this? Would be great to hear you stories.


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