Becoming a Website Designer
The ability to create simple, attractive
and functional webpages is a highly marketable skill. There is
a huge and growing demand for websites and web content, especially
for smaller organizations who often can't afford to hire
a full-service web design firm.
Readers often ask me whether it's necessary to take expensive
web design courses or to learn HTML right away to get started<
in this niche. Is there a cheaper way of learning these
If I were in your shoes, my best investment would be to learn
how to use a popular and well-supported website creation
Notice that I said "popular and well-supported."a; There are
plenty of What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) web
page creators out there that allow you to cut-and-paste and
drag-and-drop your way to create simple, effective websites.
For instance, you could check out programs such as the
123 WysiWyg HTML Editor at http://www.123wysiwyg.com
Mozilla Composer is an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
editor that allows you to create and edit web pages. Check it
out at http://www.mozilla.org/products/mozilla1.x/
Easy Web Editor (http://www.easywebeditor.com/ ) is another
low-cost option under $100.
Several Internet "gurus" have created their own software
packages. Jim Edwards, for instance, is promoting his
"mini site creator" (http://www.minisitecreator.com ) program
right now on the web and through affiliates.
Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as www.godaddy.com
offer their own easy website creation tools. These are fine if you
if are a hobbyist or small business owner, and only want to
create simple websites for your own use. But if you want to
become a professional website designer, and eventually offer
your skills and services to other small business owners, you
will have to be able to create more sophisticated sites, with more
flexible designs and features.
So the key questions you have to ask are, "Am I using a
program a professional would use? Will it be around five
years from now?"
Years ago I chose Microsoft's FrontPage WYSISYG website
editor. I knew that I would not be able to learn all the
features the program had right away, but could create simple web
sites for my business using the basics, then learn more, a
little bit at a time.
I also figured that Microsoft was going to be around for a
while,and that webpage creation was an area of business they would
want to compete in. So FrontPage would be well-supported for
years with new versions, technical support, user forums, etc.
That has all been true. However, FrontPage reportedly has its
quirks in the way it generates HTML code. Today, the best
software package that I keep hearing about in the WYSIWYG
category --and one used by professional website designers as
well -- is a program called Dreamweaver, by Macromedia.
There are Dreamweaver versions available for both the Mac
and the PC, which is important. If you learn the program on
a PC, you&aops;ll still be familiar with the same tools used by the
Mac world, which is the dominant platform for the graphic
You can learn about Dreamweaver at: http://www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/
There is even a free trial option, so you can sample the
software. And no, I'm not earning any affiliate commissions by
recommending this to you. Dreamweaver will have far more
features than you can possibly wrap your mind around at first.
The trick is to use any tutorials included with the software,
plus any free online tutorials (do a google search) and teach
yourself how to create simple, clean web pages at first. Then you
can gradually learn about other features, such as using tables, more
complex formatting, etc.
From now on, as you surf the web, bookmark sites you like or
designs you like, and keep them in a special folder as
examples you'd like to model. There's no faster or better way
to learn than by modeling success. Launch your freelance web
design practice by building your own website with Dreamweaver.
If you have Internet access, your Internet provider already
gives you from 5-10 MB of web space as part of your
subscription. So you can practice on your first website there,
at no additional cost. For an initial investment of $399, you
can become an expert using a professional tool. Once you're
confident enough, build your
own business site, with your own domain name, and promote your
services as a web designer. I recommend using www.godaddy.com
to register your new company's domain name and host your site.
It can cost you less than $50 a year to do both. You can get a
professional-looking logo for your business for $25 from
www.gotlogos.com What other business can you launch for under
$500 that has the potential to earn tens of thousands of
dollars per year?
And finally, purists and experts still suggest that you
eventually become somewhat familiar with HTML, even if you use
a WYSIWYG editor that hides all that HMTL code. Many
professionals go in and "tweak" their web pages by hand, using
HTML, to get exactly the look they want.
There are some free tutorials available to learn about HTML.
Check out: A beginner's guide to HTML:
The ability to create attractive, simple and functional web
pages is a highly sought-after skill. Once you have created
your own site showcasing a few examples of your work, your
first prospects will probably be small businesses,
consultants, and retail establishments in your area. Then,
with experience, you can start doing work for larger
companies. There's another benefit, too. You can work for
anyone, anywhere, anytime, around the world, from your comfort
of your home office.
- Online Resources
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- Writer's corner
- Freelancing Tips
- Project pricing
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