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Cococello is Deb Pang Davis. Independent print and digital designer, educator and soon-to-be-author.

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Web Design Classes: 10 Things Learned, Week 1

This past week was the first real taste of just how much there is to learn and how the decision to stay in Portland was the right one.

I'm going to try and post "10 Things Learned" each week. It may perhaps be too ambitious but what the heck, it's worth a shot.

1_Online classes are not for everyone. Perhaps I need to be more specific by saying that distance learning is not for me. I've taken a few online classes at Lynda.com with success and this first online class (only 2 online classes in the program) isn't the same. The format requires communication and is slow because the interface for communicating, exchanging files, etc. is not easy and can be frustrating. Plus, interaction between students is close to nil.

2_Learning from working professionals is a major plus.This is my third time returning to a campus so I've had some experience being all high and idealistic with theory and having reality hit me like a freight train when trying to practice theory at street level. Perhaps the distinction is not as great with web design? Regardless, I like the fact that they have so far given real answers to real questions. It's a credibility thing.

3_Humor goes a long way. Learning peppered with humor is just plain fun. There's a nice vibe and the walls, if any, come down much faster.

4_Hand-coding may not be all that I've heard it is cracked up to be. Knowing code is essential to designing for the web. That much I know given that wysiwyg editors are not always true. It's just that for the first time last week, using Dreamweaver revealed how a wysiwyg editor can be a major time-saver.

5_Don't assume a deleted web page, site or any posting to the internet disappears. I had no idea and was surprised to learn about it. There's a site called Internet Archive that somehow manages to keep archives of web sites and pages for a number of years. I have no idea (yet) how long the pages are archived and it could prove to be painful for some and educational for others. In the end, this is one of those must-knows.

6_Becoming more savvy of copyright laws is going to be even more critical. As I spend more time on the web, the issue of copyrights is more on my mind than it ever used to be. Because of this, I have hesitated to use and/or participate in a lot of social sites and more cautious about the content I choose to post. It is interesting at this stage to think about accessibility and protection; how sometimes it contradicts each other. Hmmm.

7_Using a PC may be in my near future. Except for one gig back in 1998 and a few sporadic uses as a telecommuter, I have somehow managed to avoid using a PC through the bulk of my work life. Soon, I may have to invest in an Intel Mac and Parallels. Not sure how I feel about that one and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

8_More resources for creating more dynamic pages. I was excited to learn that I could go to Webmonkey or a place called Cross Browser to pick up some API's to create more dynamic web pages.

9_Being a programmer and a designer is probably not realistic. I'm not sure where I got this idea but I was under the impression that being both a designer and programmer was possible. This may still be true and the variables may be the size of the business and the type of projects. As of right now, it seems impossible to excel at both. This probably means that at some point, I need to work out a relationship with an excellent programmer.

10_Subdomains are a possible key to consistent branding. This one (including a few others mentioned above) comes courtesy of Charlie Levenson. Rather than searching for a new domain (hard to find these days) or adding multiple folders to separate content, the subdomain can allow for separation of content and keeping the content associated with the company's primary domain/brand. I like this lesson as it makes for tidy urls.

10 things to ponder some more and conclusions yet to be determined.

Finally, New Rollers for the Table top Press

Polaroid, 17 years later