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How I got started in web design

My foray into web design began much the same as many other self-taught DIY designers’ did… I dinked around with code in Notepad, not entirely sure wtf it was that I was doing. I had a little cheat sheet I’d created which allowed me to manipulate basic tables and what not, but beyond that I was hamstringed.

I bought a copy of HTML For Dummies and starting flipping through it, but found the manipulation of code to be very uninspiring at the time. I knew there had to be a better, more creative way to develop websites. After all, web and graphic design is very much an art form. I figured there had to be another way to go about this.

Then I discovered the tool that would change my life forever… Microsoft FrontPage 98. 😀

I installed FrontPage, read the mondo companion user manual, and I was off and running. Developing with a WYSIWYG editor made things so much easier and less restrictive for me. I was free to unleash the full power of my creative mind, or so I’d thought.

While learning the ins and outs of FrontPage, I went into full experimental mode, leaving my site in a constant state of flux. With all of the tricks and techniques I was learning, I found myself constantly tinkering, but never settling.

As I delved deeper into the web design arena and learned a bit more about online business, I soon realized that I needed to abandon my dream of becoming an overnight success in the online collectibles market. The competition was far too stiff for a noob like me to make his mark. I shifted my money-making pursuits towards ebay, while also growing my motivation to learn and master this exciting new craft I’d introduced myself to (ie: web design).

For another year or so, I continued to play around with FrontPage, making and breaking sites, until I eventually felt bound by its capabilities. It was then that I had a look at Dreamweaver.

Being that the program was like $300 or something, I did what any budget-conscious upstart would have done back then… download a pirated copy off of Kazaa. 😉

When I opened the program for the first time and beheld its user-interface, I realized… yeah… I think I may have to get my ass back in school to learn this beast. Which is what I did. Not right away, though. I did try to navigate the program using intuition and best guesses, but I eventually got frustrated, sucked it up, and took a class on Dreamweaver and Fireworks at the ol’ JC.

Having re-enrolled at community college, I was also able to get the sweet discount on software purchases. Because of this, I ended up plunking down a few large for the entire Creative Suite.

That’s when I suppose I decided to turn pro.

After having the shackles removed by a couple of beginner classes, I was hungry to create with this new software. It was also around this time that I learned the difference between good, clean code, and the BS Microsoft proprietary code. FrontPage 98 was a good springboard, but with Dreamweaver now my web editing tool of choice, I was now starting to get serious. At least, I thought so anyway.

Next: Learning the craft

1 thought on “How I got started in web design”

  1. Appreciate the article. I, much like you, started out with a WYSIWYG program called Web Easy only to learn (on my own) there’s more to it than I realized. I was then introduced to WordPress and Thesis, and found web editing and SEO to be an exciting challenge. Good job on your site/blog here, keep it up!

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