08 January 2013
When the Internet was in it's early stages,Web design was something that only a few people knew about and was only mainly practiced by 'techies' and early Web Enthusiasts.
Nowadays, however it is a huge service industry, but is also something that can be done on a small scale, at home by freelancers.
In the early days all websites were done using HTML only , and although HTML is still used, it's now just a small part of the Web Design and Development process . So if you know some HTML, this would give you a good start if you're looking to get into the industry, but would be just the basics really, and not enough to get you a job or career.
Understanding The Website Creation Process
The process of creating a good website is now split into two parts, Design and Development . The reason for this is that as websites have become more complicated, there is more development (programming / coding) that needs to be done, as well as Design ( look / layout / style) . Some Web Designers manage to be good at both these aspects, but for a really professional website it's better to have different experts working on the relevant Design & development processes.
Web Design is the creative aspect of the Website process. The Web Designer would be the employee who would first meet the client to find out their requirements. This can involve actually sketching ideas / layouts on a piece of paper, or getting the client to show them websites of a similar design they're looking for .
After this point the designer would then create a design or two using software such as photo shop & Illustrator . After getting the design to the clients specification, the design would then have to be converted in HTML & CSS code to make it into a Website format. This is where the Web Developer would begin work
It is now the Web Developers job to turn the image into HTML code. The basic framework of a web page. HTML doesn't give much scope for attractive looking design, it' quite limited - Think of really old websites, and you'll get the picture.
For this purpose, a new Scripting language was developed called CSS ( cascading style sheets) . This gives designers an almost unlimited scope for design, and is more flexible and easier to code. One of the biggest advantages is that you can create a 'style' , and then apply it to any page on the website. This couldn't be done when using just HTML . You would have to write the code for each page separately.
You will now have the basic layout of the page(s), but at this point the website probably won't actually be able to anything. It won't have any functionality / interactivity , it will just be a readable document.
There are ways to create a little bit of interactivity using HTML , creating contact forms , but most websites now need a lot more than this, and need to be quite interactive.
This usually requires data to be used (such as customer data), and for this data to be searched / retrieved and altered. For this we need to have a database attached to the website, and a way of interacting with it . The most popular scripting languages at the moment for doing this are PHP and MYSQL .
MYSQL is the type of database that the information is stored in, and is also the language used on your webs pages to manipulate the data into and out of the database.
PHP is the language on the web page that allows you to manipulate your web page & database data into a usable format, and has many functions to allow your data to appear as you require.
There's a lot more involved than this but if you can master HTML, CSS, MYSQL, PHP you should be able to get work as a web developer.
Back end of website.
As well as creating the viewable part of the website, you'll also need to add a 'back-end' , commonly know as a Content Management System ( CMS for short). This is the part of the website that allows the owner to log-in , and update the website in an easy / user friendly way . Creating a CMS involves a lot of complex development work, and wouldn't in practise be created every time for a new website. The Web Design Company would either use it's own Bespoke CMS or use a freely available one such as joomla or Wordpress.