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  1. #1
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    Hey Everybody,
    I'm fairly new to this site, so please pardon me if this is not the appropriate place to post this question...anyway, I'm very seriously considering a new career in web design, and I'm wondering: is this the sort of field in which one can become a professional by being self-taught, or is an actual web design degree necessary for success? I've heard a number of differing opinions on the matter from non-experts in my personal life...I have the self-discipline and drive to go either route, but I'd like to get some input from a few working professionals before I choose a path.
    Thanks for taking the time to read my thread.

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  3. #2
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Nah, it's a good spot for it, but a question that gets repeated quite a bit.

    If you have the drive, the desire, and the ability to make a go as a developer, you don't need the piece of paper. A designer, however, is a different story...designers are about as common as t-shirt sites.

    There are about a million paths you can take as far as design and development are concerned. What do you want to do, exactly?
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  4. #3
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    Hey TheGAME1264, thanks for the reply...encouraging to hear that school's not absolutely necessary, that's what I was hoping to hear - I def have the drive and self-discipline for sure, I've self-taught myself a number of other skills and already am dedicating at least a few hours a day to learning web-building software on my own...the one thing I don't have a lot of is extra cash, which would make another round of school not impossible but very challenging.

    And for what it' worth, I do have some related education - an Associate's Degree in Graphic Design, plus another year at a four year design school - I never finished, I did the typical stupid young person-I'm-going-to-take-a-semester-off-to-party-and-travel thing and foolishly never wound up going back...but I do have most of a graphic design degree, so at least some kind of background to start on.

    I wound up working in a different field but have found that I miss designing things, so I want to get back into that and seeing as how I live in a very tech-oriented city, web design seems like a good choice - there's lots of opportunity for that here and I enjoy doing technical stuff as much as doing visual art, so it feels like it would be a good fit.

    As for what I want to do exactly? I don't know yet, I think I need to learn more about the field to decide specifically...but I think in my ideal world I would like to have skills as both a developer and designer...is it reasonable for someone to attempt to do both? Or do people tend to specialize?

  5. #4
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I think one can do both, but it's very difficult. There are some of us who have some skills in each area out of sheer necessity. For example, I'm a developer by nature, but I'm also an okay designer...I'm not the type who can put something together that will end up on Smashing Magazine, but I can do something simple and solid for people.

    The problem in your case is that more of your training and education is in design, so while you're more trained than most designers, you're still going to be put in the same boat if you choose to go down that road. So that's why I recommend learning...really learning...a server-side language such as PHP or ASP.net (I personally prefer ASP.net because I hate PHP and because I learned using classic ASP, but both are acceptable). If you can really learn the nuts and bolts behind one or the other, you'll have a huge leg up.
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  6. #5
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    Yeah, I'm basically of that mind-set as well...I do want to focus more on design, however I realize it's a very competitive field so I figured having some development skills as well would be advantageous. So I guess I'm thinking of not necessarily becoming an absolute wiz at development, but being able to hold my own and do solid work in that area as well when necessary might provide an edge if design work alone proves to elusive.

    What's awesome for me is that I'm in a position where I can really get help where I need it - I don't know a lot of people who work in art and design, so I won't be able to get as much help from my social network there...but that's where my education is, so I think that's OK, I'm familiar enough with the design stuff that I think I can reteach myself the concepts where I need to. I'm weaker on the technical side, but I have a lot of friends who are legit professional computer wizards, and can definitely turn to them as a resource if I need help with a technical concept.

    ...so my basic plan of attack at this point is I'm about half-way through a 900+ page beast of a Dreamweaver manual just to start getting familiar with stuff...once I finished that I was going to start cracking into HTML books and start learning that next, but based on what you said about the importance of PHP/ASP do you think I should start with one of those languages instead?

  7. #6
    Member sstjohn's Avatar
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    LearnWebDevelopment.com They have pretty in-depth online classes and you learn quite a bit. They are mostly affordable on any budget as well. You can take your pick of the packages for each class you are interested in. For instance, you can choose the "uber super cool mondo package " and you get crtiqued by the pros, coding help one-on-one, and some other cool perks. Good luck!
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  8. #7
    Senior Member Andrew Yurlov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGAME1264, post: 247679
    I think one can do both, but it's very difficult
    TheGAME, why. Why is it so difficult to be very good at both design and development. I have never understood this and I still don't. Is this because people that do development tend to have "weaker" creativity and designers tend to have "weaker" "technicality/methodical thinking?(cant come up with a good word for a developers weakness)

    Please enlighten me... :furious:
    Artificial intelligence is nothing compared to natural stupidity -Someone

    Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks.
    But of course, if you dig deeper, itís really how it works.
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  9. #8
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    As someone who's interviewed a lot of candidates and hired a lot of people, I would say go for the degree. A degree will help you get a job merely for the fact that it shows that you have the ability to apply yourself to do work and complete a task without being forced to do so. For me, that's probably the most important skill in an employee, right above being auto-didactic and a good problem-solver.

  10. #9
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Yurlov, post: 247701
    TheGAME, why. Why is it so difficult to be very good at both design and development. I have never understood this and I still don't. Is this because people that do development tend to have "weaker" creativity and designers tend to have "weaker" "technicality/methodical thinking?(cant come up with a good word for a developers weakness)

    Please enlighten me... :furious:
    Because they're two very different disciplines, and each requires a great deal of practice and experience to truly master. Design also tends to involve more of the right side of the brain, and development the left (notice how I didn't say either side exclusively, because there's a bit of both sides in each).
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  11. #10
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Yurlov, post: 247701
    TheGAME, why. Why is it so difficult to be very good at both design and development. I have never understood this and I still don't. Is this because people that do development tend to have "weaker" creativity and designers tend to have "weaker" "technicality/methodical thinking?(cant come up with a good word for a developers weakness)

    Please enlighten me... :furious:
    I personally don't agree with that concept, even though it's generally accepted as a "truth". I consider myself excellent with both design and development.

    Being a good web designer doesn't require "creativity" the way being a fine artist may. It requires a lot of technical knowledge and good problem-solving skills, which are the same things that being a good programmer requires. The difference is that it's a different knowledge-base, and a different mindset. You'll have to learn UX / UI / Marketing, and learn to use a graphics editor to solve UX and Marketing problems, whereas a programmer has to learn Math, Data Storage, and similar concepts, and use programming to solve problems.

    In my opinion, most "programmers" do not make good "web developers", because their lack of interpersonal skills limits their ability to think like a user. A good designer always tihnks like a user - UX first. Most people think being a programmer doesn't require that. But a web developer should always be thinking of the user first, too. It shows when a programmer is solid with design, because his finished product is significantly more usable.

    The problem with learning both fields is that it's a lot to learn, and your brain only has so much room.

    I say if both interest you, though, go for it!


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