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Metallon

[web] Web Design - help?

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But not help in that fashion. I'm just wondering... My brother may be starting a company. He's a Ph.D. in physics, 27 years old and currently working at M.I.T. He might be starting is own company - though I'm not sure what he'll be doing. He wants me to build him a professional website. I said, sure, I'll learn webdesign and programming and help along. In return, he's going to pay me. I suppose I would be the Website Admin. What am I required to learn in order to build a stable and fairly professionl, good-looking website. I already know some basic HTML and I'm currently learning Java, and I've done a good job with the program considering only having worked 2 days with it. So, besides from HTML and some Java, do I need to learn anything else? How much time can you estimate it would take for me to get the necessary skills to build a website? A few months? A year?

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Certainly learn CSS. It's the new standard and makes the site more manageable. Java shouldn't be necessary.

Beyond that, it would depend on what you need to do with the website. Is he selling products? Do customer's need accounts? How about searching through databases? Any of those things will usually require a programming language like PHP or ASP.NET and probably a database such as MySQL.

CSS, PHP, and MySQL all have a good amount of information on w3schools.com.

Beyond that, knowledge of Photoshop and other such things to create the website graphics is a big help!

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Quote:
Original post by Metallon
I suppose I would be the Website Admin.

Beware that website admin is a very different role from that of web developer, or graphic designer.

Quote:
What am I required to learn in order to build a stable and fairly professionl, good-looking website.

Stability requires a solid knowledge of whichever APIs you choose to use, but the second requires talent at art/design.

Quote:
So, besides from HTML and some Java, do I need to learn anything else?

That really depends on what the website is supposed to do. Is it just a static website? Does it have to support shopping, blogging, user editing of content...

HTML and Java make a pretty good combination for working from scratch (although Java webhosts are much harder to find than for PHP), but you really shouldn't start a professional website from scratch - use a Content Management System (CMS). Modx is my personal favourite, although Joomla would be better if it is a portal-style website.

Quote:
How much time can you estimate it would take for me to get the necessary skills to build a website? A few months? A year?

it depends how fast you learn, how much time and effort you put into it, and how impressive a result you are looking for.

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I really recommend using Strict XHTML instead of HTML - the rules are simpler and you will get a more consistent display across multiple browsers. Also, it's a lot easier to check if your markup has errors in it or not.

Java isn't required (unless you are writing a sales system, forum, blog or similar, in which case you could use Java(JSP)/PHP/ASP/etc..).

You will, however, need to learn javascript (which is unrelated to Java!).


So the basics are - XHTML, CSS and javascript (AKA JScript, ECMAScript).

Then if you need to do server-side stuff - Java or PHP or ASP or .NET or ...

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You should learn about:

Accessibility:
Making sure your pages and content are accessible to all potential users; there are a lot of people with vision or motor impairments that may be unable to use a website that is not properly designed to support them. In some areas there are legal requirements that a site must provide a minimum level of accessibility, and even where this is not required by law you'll have a larger potential audience with an accessible site. As added bonusses accessible sites often perform better than non-accessible sites in search engine rankings, and improved accessibility often goes hand-in-hand with improved...

Usability:
A good site will be designed specifically to suit whatever purpose it is trying to serve, and will not cause any unneccesary difficulties for it's users. Common tasks should be easily carried out, and the design and layout should make readily apparent the way in which users are supposed to make use of the site to achieve their goals. If a site is hard to use your audience may go elsewhere instead.

Client side markup:
You'll need either HTML or XHTML (I'd recommend XHTML personally, preferring strict but falling back to transitional if neccesary) to lay out the structure of the page. Learn the semantically correct usage of the tags you're working with and make sure you choose the correct ones for the job - your (x)html tags should be chosen for the correct semantic meaning rather than for their default look, as you should also learn CSS and use that to describe the look of the page.

Client side behavioral technology:
If you need a behavioral element to your layout (only do this if you need it, and make sure no core functionality relies on it) you'll probably want some javascript, which you should endeavor to implement in an unintrusive way using the principals of progressive enhancement.

Other client-side technologies that can allow additional functionality include Flash and Java applets.

Server side programming:
You may or may not need this, it depends entirely upon the purpose and design of the site in question. You can use (almost) any programming language for this, but two of the most common are ASP.NET and php.


Make sure you know what the purpose and goals of the site really are before you rush into implementing everything, and always keep good accessibility and usability in mind.

You can find some excellent reading material at A List Apart (topics), I highly recommend having a browse through the articles there.

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