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Getting started as a web designer, Part One

By on Mar 18, 2009 in Web Design

Most traditional art schools often fall short in teaching best practices for web design, where technology is always changing. Don’t get me wrong – I do love academia, and art school is a great environment for building a strong foundation. I attended an art school for graphic design and found the education to be a perfect stepping stone for me on my way to a career in design. However, my education was focused on design for print.

Having refocused my career three years ago to include web design, I’ve found that to learn to design effectively for the web, the best place to learn is on the web. I reconfirmed my finding when I read A List Apart’s article on this subject. I do hope that Leslie’s article has inspired the many web experts across the globe to be more involved with their local universities, helping them to stay current. This is surely going to take some time to develop.

So what do we recommend in the meantime? As Leslie’s article mentions, many web designers are self-taught. You can learn how to design and build a website on your own with some great resources – most of which are free! I can’t guarantee that your designs will be award winning on the first attempt, but one of the great things about designing for the web is that nothing is permanent – you can always make changes. Plus, there is an endless amount of examples of great web design for you to study online. This abundance of knowledge is often overwhelming when you’re just looking for a starting point. To narrow the field for you a bit, here are some of my favorite resources to help you get started with your studies of design for web:

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
by Steve Krug
Read this book! It is the quintessential place to start when studying usability design.
Lay a foundation. Read this article on principles for good web design.

Design View, Andy Rutlege’s blog
Improve your foundation. I love reading Andy’s articles on design. He’s able to articulate concepts so clearly and simply. I’ve been following his series, the Gestalt Principles of Perception – great principles to apply to your designs as you are learning.
Learn about typography! And love it. It is a powerful thing to understand how to make the most of your web friendly fonts in your designs.
Teach yourself. This site has great tutorials and free downloads to help you understand how you can create graphics for the web that look and feel current.
Get inspired! I use this site as well as [] to stay current about what other web designers are up to.

For some of you, the idea of teaching yourself a new skill probably sounds about as good as a root canal, but for those of you DIYers out there, dive in and start learning all about it. Maybe we’ll need to hire you someday!

Stay tuned for part two of this article, where I’ll share my favorite resources for learning how to build out a website design.

Hey! This wasn't written by a pod of sea lions! It was written by , who does awesome work at Loud Dog, a digital branding firm in San Francisco that helps businesses express themselves authentically via identities, websites, and marketing collateral.

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