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Thread: How to develop my web experience - advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    How to develop my web experience - advice

    Hi guys,
    First of all, I apologize if I posted this in the wrong section, I wasn't sure where to post this question, but:

    I am currently in the retail business, I work for a retail company operating their website (updating their website with new content, product, promotions), in a nutshell I basically update & maintain their website.
    My job isnít in web development, but more in operations, however I would like to get more involved in the development side. I like creating things and having skills.
    I have always been involved in computers and have done little web projects on the side, such as building and designing: http://www.stagedoorbooks.com
    I know a bit of html, javascript, flash, css, but I donít think I am an expert or even above average in knowledge in any of it.
    Iím looking into developing my skill level -- getting experience in web development in general, however I have no professional experience in thosesubjects.
    I have also thought of getting into programming and developing skills in applications. So much is of interest to me!

    Does anyone have any recommendations on how to get this type of experience so I can switch my career into that type of business?
    Any advice on a field to get into? I basically want to develop a skill, and become (some day) an expert in something. I have been in ecommerce operations for a good 6+ years now, and know a bit of a lot of subjects, but want to focus on something, focus on an actual skill.

    Thanks for any and all help Much appreciated!

    -Kristin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    1,902
    Just one thought, I'm sure there are other ways to get from where you are to where you want to be...

    Fundamentally *doing* something makes it far easier to learn than just reading about it, or looking at how someone else did it. So my recommendation is to come up with a site to develop that doesn't require the urgency of a paid project or something related to your job, but perhaps something related to a hobby or activity. Then challenge yourself to develop that site, with features that include:
    - A strict doctype
    - Validating HTML
    - Clean CSS that controls all styling and layout
    - A server-side component
    - A database for your content
    - A client-side JS component
    - All this done with a simple code editor and no CMS or "template"

    You don't need to do all this at once, of course, but give yourself a large enough scope that you can eventually include all this stuff.

    Then jump in, ask questions here when needed, and get it built. If it's an interesting topic to you (both the topic of the site and the development work) then you'll conclude that you really enjoy the development work, you might decide you like the html & css, but not server-side development, or vice-versa (which is good to know when you actually apply for a job in this field), or you might hate the whole thing and come to the conclusion that you really don't want to change jobs after all.

    Have fun!
    Dave

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Hi Dave,
    Thanks so much for your suggestion! Really is a good one! Now I just need to come with an idea for a site. But a couple more questions:

    -Do you recommend any books or websites that will help me learn?
    -In the past I have built websites with Dreamweaver - do you recommend continuing to use Dreamweaver?
    -What type of code editor would you recommend?

    Thanks again,
    Kristin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    I tend to use w3schools.com as a quick reference for html and css, though there are certainly some issues with it.

    For PHP I'd use php.net

    I don't buy books on this stuff, as they're out of date before they live out the cost value for me.

    I'd stick with Dreamweaver as long as you have it, but use the "code" editing tools, rather than the WYSIWYG mode where it's writing code for you.

    Good luck,
    Dave

  5. #5
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    Aug 2011
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    I would grab notepad ++. It lays out the code a lot nicer.

    Get a web hosting server to play with or make your own. Linux is stupid easy to install. AND FREE.

    Find something interesting such as a photo gallery or a file uploader.
    Get the source code for it.
    Once you see how it works, modify it to learn about the different elements.

    Now try something a little more advanced utilizing what you have and what you have learned. I like to tinker with things so this is my approach.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tracknut View Post
    I'd stick with Dreamweaver as long as you have it, but use the "code" editing tools, rather than the WYSIWYG mode where it's writing code for you.
    +1. If you have it and like it, then stick with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lechlak View Post
    I would grab notepad ++. It lays out the code a lot nicer.
    Eclipse is free and far better than any Notepad type of editor. I have used Dreamweaver and no matter how much I wanted to like it, I stick with Eclipse.

    I looked at the site and a couple things you will want to do is link your CSS externally and try to leave tables for tabular data. There is tons of books depending on what you are looking for. I tend to get more out of books about concepts versus books with code.

    Some concepts books to look at.

    Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug
    - In short, how to make a site easy for the user to use.
    Defensive Design for the Web by 37signals.
    - How to handle things when something thing go wrong.
    - To handle all of the situations in the book you might need to learn PHP/MySQL.
    Web Design on a Shoestring by Carrie Bickner.
    - I fully admit this old and might be rather outdated in parts.
    Web Style Guide 3rd Ed. by Lynch and Horton
    - Out in book form and free online.
    - http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/index.html

    Average book size is around 200 pages so they are compact with info and none of them are long reads.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2011
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    Awesome. Thanks so much for all of your advice.
    I am in the process of buying "Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug" from Amazon as I type this. I like to learn from both the internet and books, but sometimes feel like books are a tad more organized and have better examples...but definitely like a mix of both.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for javascript books or websites?
    I definitely learn best by example. I want to learn how to properly create rollover effects and other interactive content.

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    The JavaScript Anthology by James Edwards and Cameron Adams
    - If you feel comfortable with the basics already as it's 101 scripts that do specific things.

    Dom Scripting by Jeremy Keith
    - If you want something more geared towards the basics.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2011
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    I have used Dreamweaver and no matter how much I wanted to like it, I stick with Eclipse.
    True and Eclipse is used in a corporate environment often.

  10. #10
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    I've used Lynda.com for my learning experiences, they do a really good job IMO.

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