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  1. #1
    Junior Member wilson's Avatar
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    I have only designed a handfull of websites since I began self-teaching myself a few years ago. The majority were sites for friends (a couple of band websites and a personal site). They were mainly redesigns of what was already there (the classic Geocities, red-text-on-yellow-background, animated GIF, Times New Roman type websites).

    The most recent of them was a redesign of a local home construction company (see examples here: http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b7...lastdesign.jpg). The redesign of the website helped out the company significantly and from what I hear, they quickly became one of the top 10 businesses for home construction in the entire state. The site was all basic HTML, some CSS, a rotating flash banner (I don't care for flash, but thought it made a nice addition) displaying a few samples of their works, a contact form and meta tags. In all honesty I had to look up information on how to do the contact form (perl) and the meta tags. I could not do this again unless I looked it up.

    Right now I'm going to be majoring in photographic technology, and it's been awhile since I did anything related to web design, but I was wondering what I could do to improve my skills should I need to. Should I bother taking classes, or should I just look to the web for resources? I got as far as I did with looking it up online and learning from others' code. As of now I only wish to make a portfolio site for myself and my girlfriend (who is an artist/photographer) and maybe even band website (for my future music project that is now on hold). Has anyone here been self-taught and gotten pretty far with web design/coding? And does anyone know of any good sites coded with just basic HTML and CSS (I'd like to know that I'm not alone).

    I will admit, though, that I am interested in creating a big web project. I'm just not sure I have the time to learn everything and I wouldn't want to get stuck doing it myself. It could have the potential to become a popular site. It could be the next MySpace of its kind perhaps. I could make money and help others.

    I though of this project while searching for a website community for musicians. Unfortunately, my searches weren't finding anything and I had to be very detailed. What I eventually found was a few sites devoted to local musicians only, or a site that claimed to have over 10,000 members but a search resulted in finding only 2 other people from my state. The only other way to search was through classified ads which got me nowhere fast. It'd be nice to have musician profiles rather than ads, with photos, extended information and sound clips (mp3). And there would be an advanced search option (which the other sites lack; only have one or two search options).

    Question is though, even if I knew all the coding how costly would this be if I were running a site with say... 10,000+ member profiles (each with streaming mp3s and photos)? Would I end up devoting all my free time to this project and possibly losing money? Or perhaps I could just design the visual aspect of the site and someone else could code it and we could be partners?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member karinne's Avatar
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    First off, I'd like to see the sites you did. That would give us an idea of how basic they are. Then we could give a bit more info on what you should learn next.

    I personally don't think you should take classes for that. Most courses these days will probably just show you to code "bad" html. Using tables for layout and using deprecated html tags.

    Although pure standards geek will tell you that table-layout are bad, you can still use them but try to incorporate more css for the colors and text and stuff like that.

    CSS = Presentation
    HTML = Structure

    That's the new HTML for you. You use HTML/XHTML strictly for structure and CSS for presentation (ie: fonts, backgrounds, etc...)

    Maybe I'm going to fast for you here? But like I said earlier, a few links to what you've done would give us a direction on where to take you from there. A few books you might want to read:

    - Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman
    - Web Standard Solutions by Dan Cederholm

    I'm sure others will chime in here with more but check out their sites as well as alistapart.com.
    [a web design portfolio - Currently NOT AVAILABLE for work | web design | Re-coding | PSD-to-HTML]
    I'm also on: virb - facebook - twitter - flickr - del.icio.us

  4. #3
    Senior Member Arkette's Avatar
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    If you want to know what can be achieved with just HTML and CSS take a look at www.CSSzengarden.com unless your designing a site that gets part of it's content from other sources i.e. database, xml feed, rss feed or you need a programmed response to some user activity then HTML and CSS are all you will ever need, they are the skeleton of a website on which everything else hangs.
    End of Line.

  5. #4
    Junior Member wilson's Avatar
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    Karinne, the band sites I did are either no more (broken up) or replaced with web design from another friend (the band and I don't speak to one another that often). I tried looking up the sites on archive.org so that I could get a screen cap for some type of portfolio should I get serious with web design, but I found nothing. Could this be that they were hosted with Yahoo Geocities (with a domain name)?

    The other website is a website I created and frequently update. The guy owes me money for an update I did last summer, but he always used his daughter being in a coma as an excuse every time. I wasn't going to argue about it. But he's asked me for updates recently and I told him that I'd do it, and I'd just charge him for this and what he already owes me. When I mention money nowadays, he doesn't respond. Anyway, it's a construction site, and that can be seen right here. Nevermind the country song intro. I advised against it, but he's a fan of country music (I'll assume) and pretty much begged me to put it on there. Anyway, the site has gotten him some good business. You will notice that I didn't do a stylesheet, but put CSS on every page. I don't know why I did that.

    I haven't messed around with XHTML though, and honestly I'm not sure what that means. And I do use tables, although my earlier personal sites were entirely made up of frames and i-frames (I was scared of tables).

    What I would ultimately like to do is that community for musicians I was speaking of. There would be musician profiles and band profiles. If or when a musician is in a band, they can also create a band profile that other musicians could be associate with. Any updates to individual musicians' profiles would be reflected within the band page as well. There would be e-mail communication between members, uploading of mp3s, and an advanced search so that members could search for musicians based on age, gender, location, instrument(s), and even smoking/drinking preferences (and more of course).

    I would like to provide this as a free service but allow upgrades for a small fee. Perhaps I could put small ads to other music related websites and maybe that could pay for the costs of running the site. Then again, I'd probably be looking at gettin my own servers, hiring and paying people to help maintain the site and all that junk, right? (That's way beyond my knowledge of web design and the internet right now).

    Thanks to Arkette as well!

  6. #5
    Senior Member hyperair's Avatar
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    basic HTML and CSS can make a good site.. that's true, if you do not want interactivity. it all depends on the function of your site. if you need dynamic interactivity then u might want to use ajax and some server side scripts. i know that when i make a site i cannot live without javascript, and i also love ajax but it all depends on the web designer. XHTML is extensible html, which means (by my perception) that it is html that conforms to standards and will (should) be displayed very similarly on all browsers on all resolutions. tables are a part of XHTML, but many prefer not to use it as it is meant for tabular data, not for layout. for layout, you should use css instead. frames are also not advisable. if you must have the scrolling effect, go for divs with scrollbars
    Hyperair

  7. #6
    Senior Member karinne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilson
    Karinne, the band sites I did are either no more (broken up) or replaced with web design from another friend (the band and I don't speak to one another that often). I tried looking up the sites on archive.org so that I could get a screen cap for some type of portfolio should I get serious with web design, but I found nothing. Could this be that they were hosted with Yahoo Geocities (with a domain name)?
    I'm not sure if archive.org archives geocities sites?! That's a good question tho

    Quote Originally Posted by wilson
    The other website is a website I created and frequently update. The guy owes me money for an update I did last summer, but he always used his daughter being in a coma as an excuse every time. I wasn't going to argue about it. But he's asked me for updates recently and I told him that I'd do it, and I'd just charge him for this and what he already owes me. When I mention money nowadays, he doesn't respond. Anyway, it's a construction site, and that can be seen right here. Nevermind the country song intro. I advised against it, but he's a fan of country music (I'll assume) and pretty much begged me to put it on there. Anyway, the site has gotten him some good business. You will notice that I didn't do a stylesheet, but put CSS on every page. I don't know why I did that.
    Well, it's a good start! At least you now CSS There are however a few key components missing to make it a proper and valid html site:

    1- DOCTYPE This tells browser how to interpret your code. I suggest XHTML Transitional since you are using CSS in there.

    2- Character Encoding - Just tells the language you'll be using on the site.

    Code:
    <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en-US" lang="en-US">
    and add this in the <head> of you document

    Code:
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
    3- You're missing </body></html> at the end of you documents

    Quote Originally Posted by wilson
    I haven't messed around with XHTML though, and honestly I'm not sure what that means. And I do use tables, although my earlier personal sites were entirely made up of frames and i-frames (I was scared of tables).
    XHTML just eXtensible HTML ... It's the next HTML if you will, one that accompanies (not sure if I'm using the right word here) XML.

    Converting an HTML document to XHTML is a breeze. Have a look

    I would really recommend you reading the Jeffrey Zeldman book. I'm reading it right and I know most of the stuff he talks about. It's just soooo well written! :glasses:

    Quote Originally Posted by wilson
    What I would ultimately like to do is that community for musicians I was speaking of. There would be musician profiles and band profiles. If or when a musician is in a band, they can also create a band profile that other musicians could be associate with. Any updates to individual musicians' profiles would be reflected within the band page as well. There would be e-mail communication between members, uploading of mp3s, and an advanced search so that members could search for musicians based on age, gender, location, instrument(s), and even smoking/drinking preferences (and more of course).

    I would like to provide this as a free service but allow upgrades for a small fee. Perhaps I could put small ads to other music related websites and maybe that could pay for the costs of running the site. Then again, I'd probably be looking at gettin my own servers, hiring and paying people to help maintain the site and all that junk, right? (That's way beyond my knowledge of web design and the internet right now).
    That sound like a really nifty project and very doable. Would you be doing this for US musicians or internationally? If it's internationally I might be interested in getting involded. If you just make one for US, I might take the same platform and make a canadian version.
    [a web design portfolio - Currently NOT AVAILABLE for work | web design | Re-coding | PSD-to-HTML]
    I'm also on: virb - facebook - twitter - flickr - del.icio.us

  8. #7
    Senior Member hyperair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karinne
    1- DOCTYPE This tells browser how to interpret your code. I suggest XHTML Transitional since you are using CSS in there.
    Correction: All versions of XHTML don't inhibit the usage of CSS. I use XHTML 1.1. The difference is just the declaration of the DOCTYPE, because in IE (and some other browsers), it will initiate the "standards compliance mode" as opposed to the quirks mode without the DOCTYPE. Quirks mode can can get quite unpredictable, especially when playing around with Javascript and CSS. For beginners I suggest using XHTML 1.0 Transitional because it bears most resemblance to normal HTML. (well actually they all do but they have certain rules which are more stringent than XHTML 1.0 Transitional)

    Also, if you move to using XHTML, IE has a bit of problem with the horizontal scrollbar. You'll have to add a small bit of code to overcome this:
    Code:
    <style type="text/css">
    html {
    overflow-x: auto;
    }
    </style>
    Hyperair

  9. #8
    Junior Member wilson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karinne
    That sound like a really nifty project and very doable. Would you be doing this for US musicians or internationally? If it's internationally I might be interested in getting involded. If you just make one for US, I might take the same platform and make a canadian version.
    Ideally, I'd like to include Canada, but this won't be for awhile anyway, and I probably wouldn't be starting this project right away (gonna get school out of the way first; not for web design). I'd say if you're up to it, go ahead and start a Canadian version

  10. #9
    Senior Member karinne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilson
    Ideally, I'd like to include Canada, but this won't be for awhile anyway, and I probably wouldn't be starting this project right away (gonna get school out of the way first; not for web design). I'd say if you're up to it, go ahead and start a Canadian version
    I might just do that :cheeky: ! Although there are quite a few of these around here in Ottawa... not sure about the rest of CA ... hmmm... maybe ...
    [a web design portfolio - Currently NOT AVAILABLE for work | web design | Re-coding | PSD-to-HTML]
    I'm also on: virb - facebook - twitter - flickr - del.icio.us


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