Toledo Talk

Web Design Courses

I'm interested in taking some courses in basic Web page design. Does anyone know who offers something like this? What are the best software programs to learn?

created by Anniecski on Sep 09, 2011 at 09:18:13 am     Technology     Comments: 24

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Frankly, its pretty easy and something you can teach yourself. What gets complex is when you learn all the extra programming languages that go in hand with html such as how to write css, ajax, perl, etc. Learning HTMl or using an editor that produces what you want in html is step 1.

*Programs: Dreamweaver, Frontpage, Publisher are the big 3 programs you will most likely encounter.

Get a hold of one of these programs and play around. There are many free websites that offer guides on ow to use the programs, and also design tips on how to create a nice looking site.

To have your site online, youll need somewhere to 'host it'. Which means you will need a free host (which means they put their advertisements all over your webpage), or a paid host which has no ads. If you get a paid host make certain it has a thing called 'cpanel', which will be friendly for a newbie like you.

If need be, I can help you out. Its pretty simple.

posted by OhioKimono on Sep 09, 2011 at 09:46:35 am     #  

I'm guessing you've been out of area for a bit KO. Microsoft discontinued FrontPage back in 2006. I work with a lot design firms and their initial designs are most often done in Photoshop.

If we approve the design we can take the design and build theme around them depending on what platform we taking them to…Wordpress, WebSphere or .Net site.

Or I often have the design firm build a simple theme of the approved design in HTML and CSS which I can port to a number of platforms.

I’d start with a Photoshop class and there are many one line Wordpress (free) tutorials as well that would help you overall.

Lastly – Web design is not the same thing as web development.

posted by SensorG on Sep 09, 2011 at 10:11:58 am     #   1 person liked this

SenorG: where I work wants to redo their website. Have contact info?

posted by INeedCoffee on Sep 09, 2011 at 10:21:21 am     #  

INC - I don't freelance other than helping a few friends with their sites. Just not enough hours in the day.

I'd give MadHouse a call ( or Maxx ( both have done good work for me.

I think Websasters ( does design as well. I've never used them for that, but their SEO is really good.

posted by SensorG on Sep 09, 2011 at 10:49:12 am     #  

INC - My firm does web sites. If you need info let me know.

posted by Molsonator on Sep 09, 2011 at 11:36:34 am     #  

Photoshop is not what I'd call easy to use. Unless you've got a solid understanding of publishing and what Photoshop is going to accomplish for you, this is one of the few applications that requires instruction. Note that Photoshop is a starting point, not an end point.

Although Frontpage has been discontinued, that does not invalidate it as a viable alternative to accomplish whatever it is you want to do. The bad news is that you have to live with the results that Frontpage generates, which might not be right for you.

I don't care for Wordpress, but that's my personal preference. I find it a basic pain the butt; certainly many other people do not, and Wordpress may be fine for you. Just remember to look at the alternatives and the ramifications of using Wordpress.

Credit to SensorG: Web design is not the same thing as web development.

The two require different skills. Design is what you see when you point your browser at, say, Development is what goes on behind the scenes when you log in and order the latest print, Catnip Fever.

Send me some email at and I'll look at your company's site. If I can help you out, I will.

posted by madjack on Sep 09, 2011 at 11:37:56 am     #   1 person liked this

"I'm interested in taking some courses in basic Web page design."

Don't focus on just the technologies.

November 2010 article titled Twitter’s Creative Director Talks Design, UX and Inspiration

In a market rife with talent, how do you build a design team that works?

“Look for creative folks who understand basic design principles and critical thinking over those who have sought out advanced skills in Photoshop or CSS,” Bowman advises.

You could also take classes in art, engineering, or architecture to learn about design and not just Web design.

Observe the world around you and decide which human-made or natural products look like good design to you and are also functional. Then figure out why you like those products. If it looks good, but it's hard to use, that's not a good design. I'll lean toward the functional. The pointy-ended spade shovel is not flashy, but it has been around a while, and it performs its job well.

Of course, what you consider to be good design may be crud to someone else. Back in the summer, a designer made a mock-up of what he thought news websites should look like, and he used the New York Times as his example, and the geeks shredded his idea.

Do you critically analyze nearly everything you encounter from a design standpoint? This remote control is poorly designed. The console on my car's CD player is poorly designed. The intersection of these two roads is poorly designed. The first floor layout of our house is poorly designed. I think it's easier to find bad designs than good designs.

I consider my Birkenstock sandals to be a good design. Functional and neat looking.

A few years ago, we had our upstairs bathroom renovated, and the workers installed this toilet paper roll holder that I consider to be a brilliant design.

I don't have to disassemble the system to install a new roll of toilet paper. No worries about a spring-loaded mechanism shooting off into some undesirable location. The upward tip of the arm keeps the roll of paper on the holder. With the traditional spring-loaded holders, the extra fat toilet paper rolls won't rotate. But the arm on the above design swings out away from the wall, allowing different sized rolls of toilet paper to operate the same way. And because the arm swings out and back, the toilet paper roll pins itself against the wall when not in use, which prevents the paper from continuing to roll off.

That's a lot of thought for a toilet paper roll holder, but why should mundane products be ignored? Someone was thinking when they created that design. Simple and functional.

If a basic, everyday item cannot be designed properly, why should we think more complex systems will get designed well? Life gets annoyingly difficult when the supposedly easy things become too complicated. The programmers, designers, architects, engineers, etc. have to remember who will use their products.

An old programmer had this message taped to the top of his monitor:

"It's simple to design things that are complex, but it's complex to design things that are simple."

Just because something appears to operate easily that does not mean it was easy to build. Shortcuts by the builders can lead to frustrated users.

As to Web design or UI/UX, I like the writings of Jakob Nielsen at but others may not.

The crew at 37signals occasionally posts articles related to design.

Interesting article on typography by a design company.

You could probably learn some Web design as well as determine your own style by viewing the 1400-plus Wordpress themes.

If you like Facebook or are at least interested in what the Facebook designers are doing, then view

I visit Hacker News about every day, and here's a thread started a few days ago titled How to self-educate if you lack a formal design education. The thread pointed to this article, which started with:

If you lack a formal design education, you’ll need to self-educate before you can progress in your career, says Ryan Downie. Here's a checklist of the subjects he studied to help him to understand more about web design

I like the website

Here's a recent Quora discussion titled Whose UIs are at the forefront of design right now? Why?

Rebekah Cox is Quora's product designer. Here's a lengthy post by her titled Organizational Design.

And from earlier this year, here's a simple but informative five-minute presentation by Rebekah on design

posted by jr on Sep 09, 2011 at 12:08:48 pm     #   1 person liked this

Start with basic HTML, get the basics down, and things like Wordpress come easier, even though they also use PHP. jr does bring up some great points, as the field of web designer is moving away from coders to more well rounded field.

posted by waughkev on Sep 09, 2011 at 12:35:15 pm     #  

Oh, and skip Owens for their Web Design courses, most colleges are 2-3 years behind, which is make or break in any internet industry.

posted by waughkev on Sep 09, 2011 at 12:36:19 pm     #   1 person liked this

Waughkev is right. BGSU is behind as well. We had an intern who new next to nothing.

posted by Molsonator on Sep 09, 2011 at 12:45:58 pm     #   1 person liked this

Start with a YOUTUBE search for web/html tutorials. In 30 minutes you will be versed in the basics and can move along from there.

posted by hank on Sep 09, 2011 at 12:58:26 pm     #  

Agree with madjack, that is one of my downfalls. I'm a systems and back end developer. So I really don't know javascript/css/flash (and the myriad of frameworks build on it like Air).

Also don't have Photoshop and limited to using Gimp.
Which is why I'm looking for outside help :) I can write all the code and content in the back end, but could use some help making a pretty face, and that takes a designer.

posted by INeedCoffee on Sep 09, 2011 at 02:31:01 pm     #  

Adobe Photoshop is NOT something that should be recommended to someone new to site design >.<

Go wit something easy to use like Dreamweaver - it will take some practice but it is a great WYSIWYG editor for making websites.

posted by OhioKimono on Sep 09, 2011 at 02:50:30 pm     #  

Also - I have Photoshop CS4 ....loveeeeeeeeeeeee it.

posted by OhioKimono on Sep 09, 2011 at 02:51:13 pm     #   1 person liked this

Dreamweaver is great for creating a template or CSS, but I wouldn't want to maintain a website with it.
I use it to create my CSS and overall theme and then use its output as the input into some sort of content manager.

For example, an end user/customer isn’t going to use Dreamweaver to enter information onto the webpage to say post store hours or new pics. What they should have is a web content management system of to enter that information into. That’s what WebSphere Portal WMC or WordPress bring to the table.

posted by SensorG on Sep 09, 2011 at 03:40:15 pm     #  

Um, this is started out helpful, but now I'm confused. CSS? Gimp?

posted by Anniecski on Sep 09, 2011 at 04:02:23 pm     #  

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It is used to basically give your website a design template, so that no matter what page you go to, the design all looks the same. This is easier because in the old days of HTML, you had to input all the design elements by hand on each page. Now, you just direct to a CSS and poof, the design is there.

GIMP is a freeware program that is similar to Photoshop. I love GIMP and use it at home because I refuse to pay the ungodly amount of money for Photoshop.

I've used FrontPage, Dreamweaver, KompoZer, basic HTML in Notepad, Wikis, Blogger, and WordPress. It's all about what you want to accomplish with your website.

I'd recommended starting to learn some basic HTML coding, which can be done freely through online tutorials. I use a lot.

From there, I'd go to a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor like Dreamweaver or KompoZer. I love KompoZer also because it's free and easy to use. Check it out here:

If you're looking to use a blogging platform for constantly updated contant, WordPress and Blogger are worthwhile and free, easy to learn too. I'm not a huge WordPress fan but people love it. I've seen WordPress used for all kinds of sites.

Really, it's more about what kind of site you want to make. But, if you want the basics, learn HTML then experiment with KompoZer. All of that is free and you can spend money from there if you want more complex software.

posted by Mesmerix on Sep 09, 2011 at 04:25:15 pm     #  

Sorry Annie...I got was ahead of myself. I'd take a basic design class at a local school and see if you like it. I wouldn't get caught up in the technology.

I can use all of the design tools, I don't have much of an eye for it. I'm much better at the back end and giving someone's vision life.

Good luck!

posted by SensorG on Sep 09, 2011 at 04:29:45 pm     #  

Mesmerix makes a good point about software. I think Photoshop is around a grand ($1000), Dreamweaver is about $400 or so. If my employer wanted me to use Photoshop, they'd have to buy it and give it to me. I'm not crazy about Dreamweaver, either.

Anyway, the good news is that there's tons of free stuff out there. I've used GIMP and Kompozer and both are high quality applications.

I you want to buy software, here are two apps that I recommend:

Multi-Edit Multi-Edit is a programmer's editor with a lot of useful features. It's not free, but it is reasonably priced.

CSE HTML Validator This will validate your HTML code and tell you what is obviously wrong with it.

Mind you, these are only suggestions and personal preferences. I strongly urge anyone to try the free software (and there's tons of it) before investing a dime into commercial packages. That way you'll have something to compare commercial applications to. For instance, even Micro$oft Word looks good against a manual typewriter. Right, guys? Right?

Oh well. I like this from SensorG: Dreamweaver is great for creating a template or CSS, but I wouldn't want to maintain a website with it. I use it to create my CSS and overall theme and then use its output as the input into some sort of content manager.

There's the voice of experience. Good one, SensorG.

The truth is that while many people design websites, few design them well. That means that the field of web design is wide open and the demand for good quality designers is high. Likewise with programming - a lot of people pass themselves off as programmers because after two or three all night debugging sessions their project will run without bringing the server down or crashing out too often. Just try maintaining that code for 90 days and see if you develop a drinking problem... like, for instance, the nearest watering hole refuses to extend you any more credit until payday. Now that's a problem.

I like the design of ToledoTalk and similar Spartan designs, but I tend to think I'm in the minority.

posted by madjack on Sep 09, 2011 at 05:04:56 pm     #   2 people liked this

Hey Coffee, if you need help in the future with the front-end design, I'd be interested in helping. I'm the opposite of you. Can do the "face" but never could get the hang of what makes things work. At least with any sophistication. Have dabbled in Dreamweaver but the sites lack certain things like, oh say, CSS.

posted by daddyg on Sep 09, 2011 at 08:14:22 pm     #   1 person liked this

Personally, I loath dreamweaver. I also cant stand gimp.

Im going to give Kompozer a try - it looks spot on for what I want out of a program of that nature :)

posted by OhioKimono on Sep 09, 2011 at 10:38:33 pm     #  

On Sep 12, 2011, the launched a new and interesting Web design that uses HTML5. The reason for the design choice is to have one website for all devices. With newer browser technologies being used, the site will have a native app-like feel on tablets and smartphones.

To see the design features in action, visit the site and play around with re-sizing your desktop or laptop browser or view the site on multiple devices.

Related to the above:

posted by jr on Sep 13, 2011 at 12:26:38 am     #  

Yep. Also mentioned on Gawker.

posted by toledolen_ on Sep 13, 2011 at 10:57:25 pm     #  

One possible advantage of the's new design and forthcoming subscription service is mentioned in this Nieman Journalism Lab story titled Will give papers a blueprint to avoid Apple’s 30% cut?

Getting online readers to pay for news is a challenge, but the new offers hope for newspapers that want to create an app-like experience but control their own distribution.

Rather than fork over 30 percent of its revenues for the privilege of being included in the iTunes Store, the Globe has found a way to route around the Cupertino toll booth altogether.

The key is that the app is written in HTML5, which makes it possible to publish a website offering a user experience similar to an iPad or iPhone app.

Because of the flexibility offered by HTML5, the site automatically formats itself to any device — an iPad, an iPhone, a laptop or desktop computer, even a Kindle, which includes a rudimentary web browser. Thus the Globe has found a way to avoid paying Amazon as well.

Newspaper executives and Apple have been at loggerheads over Apple’s insistence that it receive 30 percent of subscription revenue and keep valuable customer data to itself. Late last month, Apple booted the Financial Times’ app out of iTunes in retaliation for the FT’s pursuing an HTML5 strategy similar to the Globe’s.

I think Google takes 30 percent of the revenue generated from Android apps.

posted by jr on Sep 14, 2011 at 10:28:18 am     #