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RiskyShenanigan

Career change to Web Designing

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Hi, I am looking for advice about changing career paths to become a professional Web Designer. Let me give you a little bit about my background, I got a degree in Computer Science and after university wanted to pursue web development, so I spent about a month learning coding of HTML, CSS and Javascript/jQuery and obtained a 3 month internship as a front-end developer.

 

However due to the lack of opportunities I was presented based on my beginner experience, I hadn't got any work is a while which is why I moved to SEO work. I again spent another month learning about SEO, obtaining an internship which then led onto being full-time work. I currently have the opportunity to determine what I want to do in the long term and have been interested in moving to Web Designing since I actually wanted to major in an Art field pre-college (UK) but chose the IT-field.

 

I would like some advice from fellow Web Designers and professionals about what steps to take in pursuing this career and being successful? I feel that the knowledge I have obtained through my internship as a Front-End Developer and work in SEO could transition well to Web Designing.

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I would love to help, but im a developer so theres guys far more qualified than me on here regarding careers in the design aspect. What i can say is having a strong portfolio, with just one or two strong cases will help you considerably in getting your first job.

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In order to become a designer you will have to learn design principles, graphic design, composition, UX design along with professional tools like photoshop, illustrator, indesign, also after effects and premier pro might come in handy for motion graphics.

 

Since you say that it may have been a while since you built a website you would probebly need to reacquaint yourself with html (5) CSS and learn about responsive web as well as making sure your semantic and usability knowledge is up to date.

 

I can make a great suggestion of a couple of things to look out for

 

Books - meggs history of graphic design will lead you towards typography, know your onions will help with the business end, graphic design the new basics will lead you to some new discoveries.

 

In order to do this properly as by your post it sounds as if that's what you want you will need to learn the theories as well as the practical side of this trade to be able to contextualise images is a very worth while skill too.

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In order to become a designer you will have to learn design principles, graphic design, composition, UX design along with professional tools like photoshop, illustrator, indesign, also after effects and premier pro might come in handy for motion graphics.

 

Since you say that it may have been a while since you built a website you would probebly need to reacquaint yourself with html (5) CSS and learn about responsive web as well as making sure your semantic and usability knowledge is up to date.

 

I can make a great suggestion of a couple of things to look out for

 

Books - meggs history of graphic design will lead you towards typography, know your onions will help with the business end, graphic design the new basics will lead you to some new discoveries.

 

In order to do this properly as by your post it sounds as if that's what you want you will need to learn the theories as well as the practical side of this trade to be able to contextualise images is a very worth while skill too.

 

Thanks for the reply, I have been thing about subscribing to a web design course that teaches design theory. I have seen a couple of online courses been recommended on the internet such as Lynda.com, Treehouse, Code School etc. For web design, are any of these online courses any good?

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I have never used these types of courses, I am at university doing web design at the moment (previously self taught developer), the only thing I could say is don't pay for a web design course unless it's at a university (never does any harm to watch stuff for free) and if you did you would need to make sure it covers theory as well as practice as well as make sure it's up to date, you would be better off learning graphic design directly to get the principles right, due to your previous knowledge you should be able to separate where it's ok to use graphic design principles and where web design principles would cross over.

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I have never used these types of courses, I am at university doing web design at the moment (previously self taught developer), the only thing I could say is don't pay for a web design course unless it's at a university (never does any harm to watch stuff for free) and if you did you would need to make sure it covers theory as well as practice as well as make sure it's up to date, you would be better off learning graphic design directly to get the principles right, due to your previous knowledge you should be able to separate where it's ok to use graphic design principles and where web design principles would cross over.

 

Yep, I think places like Treehouse and Lynda.com cover theory of web design e.g. colours, typopgraphy, structure. For the graphic design principle does that book you recommended cover the essentials?

 

I just want to ensure I have a foundation of web design theory down, since I already have knowledge in the coding.

Edited by RiskyShenanigan

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There are many aspects. Choosing to learn *everything* is going to be very daunting.

 

Personally (as in - this is what work(ed)s best for me), the best way to learn is to take a look what others are doing. SiteInspire and other similar websites should give you the inspiration (and ideas) that you need. It'll also help that you've experience in HTML and such. :)

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Graphic design the new basics covers most theory but you will also need meggs history of graphic design as it covers a lot of different styles up until today, especially as needed in web design today Bauhaus but there are little links you need to look into like or example flat design by the Swiss as at the moment that is the direction we are on in way of modern web design.

 

Here are a couple I other books you should most definitely add to that list

 

Graphic design theory - readings from the field

Visual communication from theory to pratice

 

If you read through all those and at the same time put into pratice what you learn, you will learn enough but in order to learn to physically use software, try tutorials on YouTube or places like http://www.surrealpsd.com and http://tutsplus.com.

 

Grab inspiration from places like https://www.behance.net and http://www.deviantart.com

 

In all honesty, stay away from places like Lynda and any website tutorials you have to pay for as unless you know what you are looking at there is no way to separate the good tutorials from the bad, I have seen a few of Lynda tutorials and they do not teach you proper use, for example they fail to follow basic principles of non destructive editing in photoshop which leads to bad pratice.

 

Once you have the theories out the way, try photomanipulation to learn composition and get people to comment on them through places like devientart but don't forget that you will also need to research things like mood boards, story boards and concept maps etc, we don't just draw stuff, we create stuff that has purpose, everything within a design should have purpose and that purpose is researched and changed if it's not right.. Don't think you can simply draw pretty pictures and call yourself a designer as that is most peoples mistake.

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I have never used these types of courses, I am at university doing web design at the moment (previously self taught developer), the only thing I could say is don't pay for a web design course unless it's at a university (never does any harm to watch stuff for free) and if you did you would need to make sure it covers theory as well as practice as well as make sure it's up to date, you would be better off learning graphic design directly to get the principles right, due to your previous knowledge you should be able to separate where it's ok to use graphic design principles and where web design principles would cross over.

Why would you advise against these courses? Treehouse and code school have higher quality, more upto date materials thsn any university course Ive seen -- and at a fraction of the cost. Ive been to uni and got a degree. Wasnt a total waste but I could have used thst time more effectively by following one of these online courses instead. And not be $$$ in debt!

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To add to this Lynda might not be great but i can tell you code school and treehouse are well worth the money. Dont say never pay for an online course because you saw one that was bad, maybe some unis are good but its a BIG punt seen as most teach old stuff. Find me one that teaches grunt, git, presprocessors, js-frameworks like node or backbone like treehouse do. As im yet to see one myself - these are things that modern agencies all use on a daily basis.

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Why would you advise against these courses?

I advise against them because they do not teach property, there are very limited places that teach you design techniques properly.

 

It's one thing to be able to use a piece of software, it's completely another to as an example use photoshop and be able to design something pixel perfect and be able to change anything a client wants within that same file without having to do it all again.

 

That is just one scenario, here is another.. You are creating a campaign advertisement for a company, a header of a website and they have a very specific idea on what they want, between you, you have come up with a perfect graphical representation of what they want, now you just need to create a convincing image, you create something using poor techniques and it does not look quite right, light is all coming from the wrong places and the quality is not quite up to scratch.. Now wonder why

 

The reason would be that in those types of tutorial they do not teach you about light and light sources, the difference between natural and incandecent light for example, they do not teach you techniques to make things look convincing and they certainly don't teach you about using high quality images that seriously ups your game when creating things like this, they teach you basics, the 'easy' way to do stuff, not the convincing way..

 

If you look back I never mentioned treehouse as I have never seen any of these tutorials but there are only a select amount of talents around that can actually teach this stuff to a high enough standard.. For example surrealpsd.

 

Ps if you look closer, I have been promoting free sources more than university, the reason is because even if it's a bad tutorial you are not wasting your money and most of the tutorials in free domain are being created by those in the real world with real clients.

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These courses are really all you need, like seriously - you'll learn more from them than any university in the UK for web development, guaranteed.

It's just unfortunate that this discussion is about web design/graphic design and not about coding, I don't know as much about coding, but I do know about design.

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Tuts+ has some good tutorials and most are up to scratch, digital-tutors seems ok from the outset but I have no other opinion of this particular site as I have never seen it before today.

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I advise against them because they do not teach property, there are very limited places that teach you design techniques properly.

 

It's one thing to be able to use a piece of software, it's completely another to as an example use photoshop and be able to design something pixel perfect and be able to change anything a client wants within that same file without having to do it all again.

 

No amount of tuition can help you design pixel-perfect websites. Practise is key.

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I like to add +1's for Treehouse and Tutsplus. Books like The Non-Designers Design Book by Robin Williams and Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think are great reads on the basics of design fundamentals (white-space, hierarchy, typography etc) and UX respectively.

 

Treehouse is brilliant for learning the basics for most things related to Web Dev and Tutsplus has more advanced courses but I've really loved the interface design ones and then the follow on courses that build those design into actual webpages with HTML and CSS.

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Thanks for all the replies, in regards to coding I am fine using free resources for that since I have done HTML, CSS and Javascript before. Its the visual web design which I prefer to have a structured course in like what Treehouse or Code School offer.

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I think Fuzzy is being harsh on lynda.com. Loads of tutorials online fail to show you non destructive editing and quite the opposite, without using lynda I wouldn't know about using smart filters. There is also tutorials on lighting too. I feel maybe you expect to get more than you do because you've paid for it rather than it being free but there are some great tutorials on there from some of the worlds best authors writing for them. People like Deke McClelland who writes tutorials for adobe.com.

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I think Fuzzy is being harsh on lynda.com. Loads of tutorials online fail to show you non destructive editing and quite the opposite, without using lynda I wouldn't know about using smart filters. There is also tutorials on lighting too. I feel maybe you expect to get more than you do because you've paid for it rather than it being free but there are some great tutorials on there from some of the worlds best authors writing for them. People like Deke McClelland who writes tutorials for adobe.com.

@@j05hr Lynda teaches how to use a program, maybe even a little bit about non destructive editing, maybe even some shortcuts but nothing about design, people come away from these 'courses' believing that because they now know how to use program's like Photoshop that they are suddenly a 'designer', nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Lynda and most other sites like it teach nothing less than you can find on youtube, only on youtube the quality of the teaching is far better most the time as those that are giving the tutorials are purists that like to do things properly. In that sense it's a waste of money and a useless endeavour from people who know how to use a program but know nothing about design or graphics ( or at least if they do know it they don't share those skills)

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@@j05hr Lynda teaches how to use a program, maybe even a little bit about non destructive editing, maybe even some shortcuts but nothing about design, people come away from these 'courses' believing that because they now know how to use program's like Photoshop that they are suddenly a 'designer', nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Lynda and most other sites like it teach nothing less than you can find on youtube, only on youtube the quality of the teaching is far better most the time as those that are giving the tutorials are purists that like to do things properly. In that sense it's a waste of money and a useless endeavour from people who know how to use a program but know nothing about design or graphics ( or at least if they do know it they don't share those skills)

 

Never looked into Lynda before, but I hope you're not mentioning TreeHouse and CodeSchool in the same light as you'll struggle to find material as good as they offer on YT, especially for code school, there stuff is well worth paying for -- I'd still keep my account if they doubled the fee :)

 

With regards to the design stuff TreeHouse offers then I can't form an opinion on that because I'm not a designer but for code at least it's a good resource.

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@@rbrtsmith When code is taught places like that on the most part teach good pratice whilst with design there is this inherent belief that because you know a few Photoshop tricks (which could even be mistaken as 'good practice' giving the illusion of 'quality') that makes you a designer, design has theory behind it that is essential especially in graphic design and web design, for example colour theory, rule of thirds or even less known things like being able to contextualise and read an image.

 

I have yet to find a 'training program' that goes beyond showing you how to 'draw pictures' and when they give these tutorials they forget quite convienently to mention that being able to do some stuff in Photoshop does not make you a graphic designer so those that take these 'design' courses are fooled into thinking they are suddenly qualified to offer graphic design to a client.

 

There are plenty of places online you can learn the things that 'course' is missing but you would never be looking for them unless you accidentally stumble across it or someone mentions it, which these courses don't.

 

Any proper design course would show you every area of design, using program's, theory, physical design as well as learning what graphic design is or at the very least lead you towards them. These tutorials just don't come anywhere near what I would consider a design course.

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I understand where your coming from Fuzzy Logic, just the other day I got an email about 'learning design' from Skillshare and the message I got from the ad was if you learn how to use Photoshop you were basically a designer. Programs are just tools, in my opinion learning design is all about the fundamentals and principles, the thinking behind what you create. Photoshop/Illustrator/Sketch are just tools to transport what create onto the screen.

 

I think there is a big gap in the online tutorial sphere that hasn't catered to the beginner that wants to learn design but doesn't want to or can't afford to goto university. I've seen the odd course on places like Lynda & Treehouse but they are just cursory glances and don't delve very deep into the vast subjects that make up graphic design. I myself am learning design but have to resort books to get the juicy and in-depth information which isn't necessarily a bad thing but video might be a more useful medium for learning this type of stuff.

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I understand where your coming from Fuzzy Logic, just the other day I got an email about 'learning design' from Skillshare and the message I got from the ad was if you learn how to use Photoshop you were basically a designer. Programs are just tools, in my opinion learning design is all about the fundamentals and principles, the thinking behind what you create. Photoshop/Illustrator/Sketch are just tools to transport what create onto the screen.

 

I think there is a big gap in the online tutorial sphere that hasn't catered to the beginner that wants to learn design but doesn't want to or can't afford to goto university. I've seen the odd course on places like Lynda & Treehouse but they are just cursory glances and don't delve very deep into the vast subjects that make up graphic design. I myself am learning design but have to resort books to get the juicy and in-depth information which isn't necessarily a bad thing but video might be a more useful medium for learning this type of stuff.

Well said, I wish you luck with it

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I think Treehouse covers a lot of good design fundamentals, things like color, whitespace and many other things, but like I said I'm no designer so my guess is that TreeHouse design topics are more of an introduction -- however they do go beyond how to use a tool, they have a seperate Photoshop course to learn the specific program. Check them out if you haven't already, you might be suprised -- although I do think there is a gap at least for the more advanced stuff.'

 

I only really need to be aware of the basics as I don't create the designs myself but I do have input to the design team. IE so you can have both a great looking functional design yet at the same time it allows me to create very scalable and maintainable code. Our designers are becoming more and more aware what kind of designs are best suited to web, things of a modular nature where similar styles and patterns are repeated throughout are things I'm looking for.

 

Sorry I went off on a bit of a tanjent there too, but a course on design that is specific for web would be real nice also as an expertise in print design does not make the said person a good designer for the web as the two enviroments are completely different.

Edited by rbrtsmith

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I think Treehouse covers a lot of good design fundamentals, things like color, whitespace and many other things, but like I said I'm no designer so my guess is that TreeHouse design topics are more of an introduction -- however they do go beyond how to use a tool, they have a seperate Photoshop course to learn the specific program. Check them out if you haven't already, you might be suprised -- although I do think there is a gap at least for the more advanced stuff.'

 

I only really need to be aware of the basics as I don't create the designs myself but I do have input to the design team. IE so you can have both a great looking functional design yet at the same time it allows me to create very scalable and maintainable code. Our designers are becoming more and more aware what kind of designs are best suited to web, things of a modular nature where similar styles and patterns are repeated throughout are things I'm looking for.

 

Sorry I went off on a bit of a tanjent there too, but a course on design that is specific for web would be real nice also as an expertise in print design does not make the said person a good designer for the web as the two enviroments are completely different.

You are right about the differences between web and print design, there are some pretty important differences, like user experience, image optimisation, responsiveness and different colour types between screen and printing. When it comes to design principle though graphic design and design for screen are the same, the fundamentals are the same, it's really just a case of accounting for your audience, for example something that works as a poster my never work as part of a website, this is where branding comes in to get a seamless continuity between the two.

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for me , it seems you wish to be developer

I would prefer web design, but want to having coding skills as a fallback so at least I have a foundation in that area. But designing would still be my first choice and is an area which I am likely going to put my focus on.

 

I would also say a portfolio is the most important thing

Yep, this is definitely something I will be working on. I have my portfolio designed and ready, I now will be looking to create some personal projects to showcase.

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I would prefer web design, but want to having coding skills as a fallback so at least I have a foundation in that area. But designing would still be my first choice and is an area which I am likely going to put my focus on.

 

Yep, this is definitely something I will be working on. I have my portfolio designed and ready, I now will be looking to create some personal projects to showcase.

 

I'm exactly the same, I'm learning the coding skills so that I can create my personal projects but I much prefer the design side. So if I can't make it in Web Design as a career I'll still have some skills in Web Development that I can fall back on and build on.

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