Web design question from an IT grad who doesn't want a career in IT

Discussion in 'Graphic Design & Digital Art' started by Hung-Two, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. Hung-Two

    Hung-Two Member

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    So I graduated from an IT degree last year. *applause* Grades weren't great, but got an award from the Australian Computer Society which should land me a dev job somewhere.

    But, I don't really want to work in dev. It's web design that gets me real excited. I see something like this list filter and think it's outrageously sexy. I fawn over logo designs like this one, and making my own logo is something I'm more proud of than many other things I did in my time at uni. Articles on things like UI/UX are far more interesting to me than things like optimisations and unveilings of yet another PHP/ruby/python/etc library. (though I still find those interesting in their own way)



    So, my question is...how could I best steer myself into becoming a professional web designer? Specifically...

    Who should I hang out with/In what online communities should I spend a lot of my time? I've noticed the launch of http://dribbble.com/ and I'd love to be able to put stuff on say, CreamyCSS, but I'm more interested in forums and such where web designers hang out and I can start immersing myself in the world.

    Do any of you have personal web design heroes that you follow? I think this is really important - having someone to admire and endeavour to be like just adds so much meaning to any skill.

    I'm inclined to do some freelance webdesign work so that I can say that I've done design work that was paid for. I've done some in my time for the government but no one asked for it, I was just bored. Before/After Do any of you have experience with freelance work and have advice for someone thinking of trying it? I understand I'll have to set up my own ABN...I'm also tempted to try http://99designs.com/ first because I have no credentials I can use to effectively make bids on the likes of elance...I really hate the idea of putting a lot of work into a design and getting paid nothing, but I don't think I have much choice. =T
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  2. Philll

    Philll Member

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    I find it better to learn how to do things yourself and draw inspiration from what's out there, follow trends to keep up (You know, site styles, integrating social networking, don't get stuck in 2006) because if you just go to communities you'll end up designing like them.

    Some sites I use include:

    creattica.com
    Smashingmagazine.com
    deviantart.com
    Or basically typing "css design" into google and a million other blogs will come up.

    As for getting work, the best way to do it is show people what you can do I guess. I really really wouldn't do that until you have something that is presentable though because first impressions really count. If this means free work while you learn until you get to a point where you can do most things well then that might have to be it, unless you can get a job as a junior somewhere so you get paid to do them, but even to get that you're going to have to show something for it.

    I remember going to an interview in 2005 and they asked me to make a site. Being a Flash animator at the time I did make something, and it was a piece of shit. I mean PPPOOOOOOey it stank. 2 years later with some self taught experience under my belt I went for another job, got it, then went for a better one and got that too. Now the place I work at is one hundred times better than the one I went for in 05 and I have hundreds of pieces of work to back up anything I want to do now.

    Seek regularly has junior jobs available and some are for people with little experience (though the pay matches). You could also go in as a dev and learn how things work a little better then switch over, a lot of people have done that in the past for places I have worked at, if they were good enough.

    Bid for work sites are shit, I never use them. You always undersell yourself for big projects and you're bidding with people in 3rd world countries who will go insanely cheap. There are some Australian ones, but the flipside is you have to be really good at what you do. 99designs is one of the worst as nothing is guaranteed. If you live at home, you can afford it and can be bothered - go for it. But if you work for yourself, pay rent etc it's not the best idea.

    Thats me anyway.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Hung-Two

    Hung-Two Member

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    Thanks a heap for the big reply mate. Seems like no one else wants to answer!

    I'll probably just do as you say, and go into dev work anyway, slowly building up a portfolio of freebie jobs so I have something to show.

    Do you see much of a future in Flash? I haven't touched flash in years now, and don't know if I'd bother picking it up. I feel like there's plenty of value in being a HTML/CSS/JS demon, but I wouldn't know from experience or anything.
     
  4. Philll

    Philll Member

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    It's frowned upon as of late mostly because Apple says so. What Apple says goes because apparently they are the masters of the universe, and flash doesn't work well on any Apple device - even the new MBP's which I had the pleasure of using for a good 6 months.

    Granted it's still slow on Windows machines, though the majority of the time it's because it isn't optimized, it's coded wrong, or there's too much going on that destroys a CPU.

    I see a future for it, just not for what it's currently used for. It will go back to what it was used for before videos were being streamed all over the place, animations and custom applications. The only thing though, for example any site on thefwa.com, I don't see how JS can replace the movements / animations / effects that Flash can do. There's Silverlight, but that'll be as redundant as Flash in a few years so I wouldn't call it a replacement. You can do a lot with JS/JQ but it's nowhere near a level that Flash is at.

    Then there's banner ads. When we make them in Flash we always do GIF versions as well in case people turn JS/ad blockers on/off. The way we make the majority of these as well leaves JS in the dust. You just can't create them the same way you can in Flash. Yet.

    So unless those kinds of sites cease to exist, people stop using Flash for ads and they stop making Flash games/apps it'll be around for a while yet.

    I keep meaning to write these small little posts not walls of text :mad:
     
  5. fallen_dragon

    fallen_dragon Member

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    If you dont mind me asking Philll, so you were skilled as a flash animator and then became self taught in all things web design? and then career progressed from there?

    just curious because I enjoy tinkering as a hobby, but my real work isnt even remotely related and its one of those 'one day' things that rolls around the back of my head.
     
  6. Philll

    Philll Member

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    Yes pretty much.
     
  7. OP
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    Hung-Two

    Hung-Two Member

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    Haha not to worry mate, this isn't 4Chan, I like the walls of text. :] I would like to specialise in JS only but I'm madly in love with UX, so I'll probably have to dip into flash at some point. Thanks for the reply :]
     
  8. Dogo

    Dogo Member

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    If you want to make use of your IT skills while still being heavily into the design side , I would look into a career as an interface coder. There's a big problem where designers try to involved in coding (such as JS) and make a mess of it. And vice versa.

    I'd focus into a career where you take something "pretty" and make it work.
     
  9. Zer0

    Zer0 Member

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    I would suggest as has been mentioned above that you look at specialising as a front-end developer / UX developer. In this kind of role you would design user interfaces and methods of interaction and build the high quality efficient code to deliver these.

    I would focus on very strong core HTML & CSS formatting skills combined with some common Javascript frame works (especially look at JQuery and GWT). If you can master these to a high level there is plenty of work out there that would probably suit you and pays damn well if you are good. I'd hire you :) We have great trouble finding developers who have properly used frameworks like JQuery for more than just pretty effects but for actual client side processing and drawing of UI's.

    We actually use this a lot as html templates for layouts combined with JSON data feeds rendered on client side by JQuery can give you a super efficient web front end.
     
  10. OP
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    Hung-Two

    Hung-Two Member

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    THere does seem to be a rather odd number of "web designers" who can't write a single line of code...I don't understand why, it seems easy pants to me =T will look into it =D


    I'm doing some more stuffing around with jQuery and it's incredible plugins now. It's damn fun...if I can make a career out of this my life is sorted =D What do you mean by clientside processing? I'm trying to whip a google maps application together for a government organisation, I want to do search on the client side, is that the kind of thing you're interested in? Not looking for work, just wondering if I'm developing a useful skill here, haha :]
     

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