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MitzeMitchell

Web design mentor?

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Greetings everyone!I find it very difficult to set projects for myself and identify my trouble areas. Does anyone know of a mentorship program of sort or a site that gives you various web design projects? All I've really found so far is just sites that have "how-to's".If you know of such a site or wouldn't mind being a mentor of sort, please let me know! Help in either way would be greatly appreciated.Thanks for the read!~Mitze

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This is a pretty common idea amongst new posters here - I remember starting a similar thread a while ago and getting little back. I started building an e-commerce site shortly after learning the basics and that was a really good learning experience. It encompassed HTML markup that validates, CSS that validates, JavaScript to make my menus click-through, jQuery to make managing account information cleaner looking, MySQL to store a product catalogue and PHP to fetch, order and display it, using a payment providor's API, automating e-mails, styling for printing, a registration/log-in system, a shopping cart.. There is a lot to it and I'm proud of it. But I would probably have given up if it had been a mock project. It helped that it's for someone else (it also helped that that someone else is my mother who knows nothing about web development and whose own work ethic when it comes to writing the website content is worse than my own). Building yourself a dynamic, database driven website with a server side language to manage the database, a login system and some flashy upgrades using JavaScript will give you a really good start, I think. Remember the number one rule with JavaScript though, which is that your site shouldn't depend on it to function - it should be extra gloss only, unless you can be assured that your audience won't turn it off or that in turning it off, users can't abuse your site. Something I found really useful was following the exercises in Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache. They take you through a login system, a basic forum, a calendar, an address book, a very simple shopping cart/store. Really fundamental stuff.

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chibineku's reply is excellent.Although I started with computer science skills, I gained my web experience by creating a site and then getting a job. The most difficult part of creating the site was deciding what the site should do. The job was as a contractor, I was the only engineer in the company, so there was no one to help me. I found a lot of help on the 'net, through forums, and when I was really stuck, paid support. I succeeded primarily with creativity and sheer persistence.After several years in the industry I bought Head First XHTML and CSS and read it. I recommend the Head First series because they're technically accurate and fun to read.The web industry used to be very easy to get into, anyone that could write HTML could get a decent job, but that's changing. Many, if not most companies require a 4 year degree in Computer Science or something similar, or Graphic Design/Communication. In addition, the web industry has become very specialized. There's room for many different skill sets. For example, sites have to look good, they have to work, they must be secure, they must be efficient, and search engines have to be able to make sense of them, and the server must be administered. Many people specialize either on the client-side (CSS/XHTML/javascript) or server-side (ASP, PHP, java).Web sites and application have become exponentially more complex, so a firm understanding of the fundamentals is vital. They've also become more expensive, so cost must be a primary consideration when choosing a solution. I try to write as little code as possible, assembling sites from existing applications, components and libraries instead of building them.Starting points http://w3schools.com - Has great tutorials, try it now, examples and resources http://php.net - Everything you need to know about PHP. There are equivalents for ASP and java http://w3c.org - Has the web standards, and validators, so your pages will parse correctly and are more likely to display properly across different browsers Finally, this forum is a great resource. When you have a question, search to see if someone else asked it - you may find a wealth of information, or post a thread. Good luck.

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This board operates as a kind of mentor, and it's always "on", since we have members all over the world.

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Wow, some great responses here guys! Thanks!Gave me some different ideas about what I can do. Obviously, learning different languages seems to be the first step. But afterwards, I can focus on a specific area. I didn't really know that. I thought it was an all or nothing kind of deal (in retrospect, kind of a dumb assumption).The template-type idea wirehopper gave was also nice, thank you sir! I'm seeing that idea more and more as I study. Definitely going to use it (after I build it a first time myself, of course)!Thanks again everyone, and looking forward to working with you all!

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Pick something you enjoy. Hiking, cooking, kids, pets, games, anything. Think about a web site that would let you share ideas - just a simple site, where you could post recipes, mountain trails, pictures of puppies, whatever. Learn XHTML and CSS, and make it happen. You can start on your PC without anything, or get a domain name and hosting.Once you're comfortable with XHTML/CSS, add some javascript, then a server-side language. Have fun. :)More great resources:http://colorschemedesigner.com/http://websiteoptimization.com (has a free optimizer that illustrates important elements of sites)Firefox and Firebug (plugin)YSlow (Firefox plugin)

Edited by wirehopper

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Thanks wirehopper! These resources are great!I played with the color scheme designer for at least half an hour this morning.Took me a bit to find the optimizer (they need to make the link a bit more apparent in my opinion), but once I did I ran my homepage through it and apparently I did well! Woohoo!As for the validator, it made me no longer like you! Kidding, of course. I ran my homepage through that as well, but didn't do so well. 21+ errors the first time through. But I've since got it down to 1 error and 4 warnings (and currently trying to learn how to correct those).Those plug-ins are pretty cool too! I originally learned on a trial version of Dreamweaver, then after trial was over switched to CrimsonEditor (friends recommended editor). I always read about making changes in the browser but never really understood how to do it. These make it SOOO much easier to visually interpret changes! Never really messed with plug-ins, but I'm going to have to start.Thanks again everyone! I really appreciate all the responses!

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