View Full Version : Hello, I'm new...
06-19-2004, 11:20 AM
My name is Lee, I live in London, UK. I am 16 years of age, and seeking advice; I am looking to break into web design or networking but due to some unfortunate circumstances I was not able to complete any of my GCSEs.
While having completed several web sites, practically single-handedly, I obviously do not have the full range of skills needed to achieve success in this competitive business. I have worked with very basic PHP, some Java, and HTML, which to be honest I found not to be too difficult.
I would regard myself as possessing good writing skills and while, not being able to make a web site that is most pleasing to the eye - in notepad alone, anyway. :P I greatly enjoy maintaining web sites, with the help of a combination of open-source PHP scripts. For example, I would add a forum, maintain it, keep in touch with the users. Use a CMS, such as phpNUKE, and further integrate it within the site.
I have heard Dreamweaver is an excellent tool to have, I also believe it is rather costly, and hence, I cannot obtain the software, legally.
I am willing to attend courses, of almost any kind, but while not dismissing the idea, I would prefer not to attend a 'college' as such.
Any ideas, anyone? Thanks!
06-19-2004, 02:49 PM
I think you should do your GCSEs, hate to sound like a Mum but you're not exactly employable without them. I don't reckon you'd find them too dificult since you do seem to have pretty decent writting skills.
Don't know why you don't want to go to college; I'm loving it at uni in Manchester; Independence, great friends, great fun - I don't want to graduate! Still if it's not for you you might be able to do them part time, or fast track in one year, especially if you've already covered part of the course. You could look at evening classes or the Open University as options.www.open.ac.uk (http://www.open.ac.uk)
The problem is that HTML is pretty easy. I taught myself HTML and CSS (cascading style sheets) using free internet tutorials and created what I think is a pretty decent looking site for a freebie using notepad (and Claris Draw to make the buttons). You obviously know more than me, I don't know PHP or Java, but if I needed to learn them I probably could. Gone are the days when anybody with a little scripting knowledge can set themselves up as a web designer. It just doesn't put you far enough ahead of the pack anymore.
The important bit about webdesign, and the bit people seem to neglect, is the DESIGN. Look through the site reviews on this messageboard and you'll see that the problems with people's websites aren't generally with the code. They're with cluttered site layout, clashing colours, lack of colour contrast, busy patterns, confusing navigation systems, boring design and bad copy written in bad grammar.
With cheap hosting and the ready availability of WYSIWYG editors every idiot can now have a website and most of them do. The internet is saturated with rubbish websites. You need to be able to offer something that can stand out among the seas of dross.
I suggest you do some sort of design course to develop your visual sense. Get stuck in to the myriad of programming and design tutorials available on the web (try webmonkey for a start), make a dead shiny website to promote your skills and start trying to promote yourself to local groups and small businesses. Start small and work up. Don't expect this to be easy. If you want it you'll have to fight for it.
There is quite a lot of help available for setting up your own business if you want to do it properly. Check out these websites:
06-21-2004, 02:59 AM
Read what kittiwoz said, very good advice. Mine is probably bad, I'm lucky I have another income besides web design :>
However, I have to say GO FOR IT!
You say you are 16, this means you have plenty of time to learn as much as possible.
If you spend the next year learning as MUCH as possible, of EVERYTHING that has to do with web design, I don't see how you can go wrong.
Either a company will hire you, or you will find enough business sense to make it on your own. There are constantly new businesses needing web design, and there are really no big corporations they know to turn to.
1. Learn everything you can.
WebMonkey is a HUGE resource, and you can find tutorials for anything.
Go beyond 1 or 2 key components. Dreamweaver is a great tool, learn it first. Then your free to read tutorials on anything, from graphic design to layouts, Search Engine Optimization to databases.
2. Create a Portfolio (of good sites).
There are hundreds of charities that need web design. They need graphics, websites, databases, you name it they need it. Their payment: A site as good as you want for your portfolio. These sites will be your showcase, so make them good.
3. Learn about the web design BUSINESS
Learn the business aspect of web design. Find out how to advertise YOUR business, and how to do so in your city. Then learn about contracts, how to set prices, and how to act in meetings via email, phone, and esp. face to face. Finally, read how others have failed, and succeeded, in web design.
4. Create your site. DO NOT CREATE YOUR SITE LIKE ANY OTHER WEB DESIGN SITE. This is what I have had to learn. Offer something most others don't. Set your prices cheap when starting out, no matter what other designers tell you.
Once you have a good enough BUSINESS site portfolio, begin raising your prices slightly. The more money you make your clients, the more you should charge. High Profile sites make alot of money, but you will only be able to design Low Profile sites for a good while (Not that it's a bad thing).
5. GO TO COLLEGE. There are so many things to study in computers its not funny. If you like web design go to college for that. THERE IS FINANCIAL AID if you don't have any money. Take out student loans! You may have to pay them back in the future, but your salary will be 30k more per year, starting out.
6. Have fun! If you get through all that and still want to look at a computer, the possibilities are endless.
06-21-2004, 07:45 AM
Thanks for the advice. If I do decide to go to college, funding certainly would not be an issuse. I believe I could get into college to take some form of a basic IT course, instead of GCSEs, for say, a year. And that would prove to them I am capable of working to a required level.
One of many reasons I am put off college, is that I don't like studying. I wouldn't like to spend two years on what I don't want to do. However, I understand that if I want to get anywhere long-term, I need to obtain these qualifications, in order to be employed outside of a self-employed basis. :)
Well, if you didn't get your G.C.S.E's (Genral Certificate of Secondary Eduction for anyone outside the UK) you do have a problem.
You HAVE to have Maths and English. There's no choice. That said, exams are only useful for getting you to the next level (ie. once you have A-levels, GCSEs are worthless, once you have a degree, A-levels are worthless etc.).
I doubt very much that you'll find a college that will accept you without at least Maths and English, regardless of the course you want to do. Do not try and strike out on your own, the market is flooded with people who do that because they can't get a job with an agency. You need a night class in Maths and English if you can't do them at school. If you have extenuating circumstances for not having the qualifications but you do have the knowledge then you might be able to get a position as an apprentice in a larger agency (they may not pay you).
Web design is an extremely competitive field. I have difficulty finding work sometimes and I've got 9 GCSES, 3 A-Levels, a B-TEC in Graphic Design and a First Class Degree, as well as just over 4 years experience. You need an edge, and unfortunatly, even if you are capable, without having the paper to prove it, no-one will believe you.
Go get those qualifiations - life is long, and if you work hard now, with a clear goal in mind, what you want will come to you...just be patient.
06-21-2004, 08:56 AM
Although I haven't enquired at any colleges here in London, while I was living in Suffolk, East Anglia, the first college I visited stated that as long I could prove I had the understanding to complete my GCSEs, by taking some kind of a test, they would enrol me.
I suppose you could say that I had extenuating circumstances. :P I looked into an apprenticeship, using Connexions (http://www.connexions.gov.uk/), but they had trouble finding anywhere. Somehow, I find this hard to believe, as this is London!
After an impulse rethink, thanks to the advice above I have decided to attend college, to take my GCSEs, at least.
Once more, thanks! :)