What's the best way to learn web-design without going to class?

Last year, for the first time ever, I got my hands on some Macromedia toys (Dreamweaver, Flash, etc.) and I taught myself to make a pretty good web-page (which no longer exists because it was on my account at my old university). Since then, I’ve gotten more and more into it, because there’s some really kick-ass sites on the internet. I’d really like to be able to do design with flash and things like that to make a formidable site, but I don’t really know where to start. Flash was just incredibly difficult for me, but it doesn’t seem like it should be.

Has anyone else taught themselves web-design? If so, how did you go about it? Is it just one of those “it takes time” things?

Read the books, practice, make pages and ask for feedback (and don’t get pissed if someone says “Great Og that sucks!”)
This is exactly how I discovered that I have no artistic talent, and that lack is clearly evident in my designs.

Find pages with good web design and figure out what makes them work.

Find pages with bad web design and avoid their mistakes. If there’s anything about a web page that annoys you, avoid it on yours.

Elizabeth Castro in particular has an excellent series of books that will allow you to start from scratch, and build and design web pages.

Look at other people’s source code. Don’t STEAL it, but use it for reference. That’s what I did, and I’ve been doing Web design for several years.

Check out the myriad of “help” sites for HTML development. I’ve never used Dreamweaver or Front Page for my design; I always hand-code. When I was on a PC I used notepad, and now that I’m on a Mac I use Taco HTML edit. If you’re a fast, relatively accurate typer, that’s going to be the best way for you to learn the code, I think. Just fiddle around with it.

As a Web designer, I hate Flash. Very few people who run personal sites use it because it’s generally unweildy. Yes, a lot of commercial Web sites use it, and it sucks for anyone unfortunate enough to have a dial-up connection, which the majority of people who are accessing the World Wide Web still use. As a salesperson you want your advertising available to everyone, not just a minority with better equipment, so you should be aiming for the lowest common denominator, so to speak. I loathe Flash. Until they make it easier to load I won’t be using it, although I do know how to use it.

If, however, you’re having problems, do a google for “Flash help.” That usually brings up some good tutorial sites, which is how I learned how to use Photoshop.


Check out w3schools.com. When I need to learn about a web technology, that’s always the first place I look.

As far as style goes, take a long tour of webpagesthatsuck.com.

I learned by just doing it. I had a site and wanted to put something on it, so I either read how to do it on one of the gazillion HTML help sites out there, or looked at someone else’s site and saw how they did it.

Once I got out of HTML and into ASP (where you can’t just view source) I still just read help sites, and asked people how to do stuff.

I’ve been a Web designer professionally for over 5 years now and I still look stuff up (on w3schools like ultrafilter said) when it doesn’t hit me right away how I should do something.

Fiddling with web stuff is cool because it’s free. Just do it! :slight_smile:

For web page scripting, you may want to check out codes online. There are repoistry for such things, from ajax to css.

For web page design, as in the layout, usability aspects, I recommend Web Pages that Sucks and its sequel for some basic usability lessons.

As usual, thanks for the pointers everyone.

I’ve taken a look at those websites, and they should be enough to keep me busy for the time being.