Designer or Developer? Determining Your Skill Set As a Student

To this day, I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. I went to college with the expectation of graduating with a Computer Science degree, but instead I walked out with a Design degree. If anything, I found that my college career adjustments would be a indication as to how I would eventually fit into the web design field. Even now, I wear many different web hats, but they all fit.

But what about you? What do you want to do? Would you rather be a developer – writing code to solve problems? Or, would you rather be a designer – pushing pixels to solve problems? How do you find out which is more interesting to you? There are a lot of questions you should be asking yourself, but don’t expect anybody to give you the answers. You need to experiment to find out where your strengths lie; and in experimentation, many new things come to light.

Blur or Focus?

First off, what are you more comfortable doing? Again with my example, I started down one path and eventually changed direction, but I made sure a lot of what was learned came along for the ride. If you want to get your hands dirty with both disciplines, I recommend the following right out of the gate:

Join a Small Web Design Team

Being on a small design team forces everybody to wear many hats. To be successful, it’s sometimes required of all involved to adapt in their duties and help each other out. Understanding what your partner is doing and having the ability to step up and work on the same project is important. You work fast and you learn a boatload of information in a small amount of time.

My first job out of college threw me into this environment and I loved every minute of it. Even though I had a design degree, I was expected to help with Flash development, PHP, JavaScript, ColdFusion, HTML/CSS, and even some video compositing from time to time. Small team environments allow you to taste a bit of everything, hopefully finding a new interest in a particular area.

While this scenario allows for gained knowledge on a lot of topics, it also comes with a price: the old “jack of all trades” axiom. Sure it’s great to be able to have a lot of different skills, but you are never truly exceptional at any one of them.

Sure it’s great to be able to have a lot of different skills, but you are never truly exceptional at any one of them.

Join a Large Web Design Team

More often than not, larger teams mean a higher chance of specialization. Here you could have a defined role. You may be able to spend a lot more time in a single discipline, work with others with the same skill set (it’s doubtful that you are the only web designer there), then gain valuable experience and insight.

In either case, you get to try both the developer or designer tracks out. With a small team environment, the structure is mutable, so you can quickly move from the designer role to developer and back again. Be warned that you may not stay on one discipline long enough to get all you can out of it. The learning curve is steep and the skill retention is not very long.

With larger teams, you can more quickly build on your knowledge in one area, but you may not have as many opportunities to try different skills on for size.

Designer and Developer?

A combination of both skills is extremely valuable these days. The “double threat” of a designer who can code a bit or a developer who has an eye for design looks excellent on a resume and is sought after by many a company.

If you are primarily a designer, it would be in your best interest to pick up a web development book or two. Even if you would rather focus on the design discipline, having the vocabulary of a web developer will get you far. It can make the workflow smoother between the designer and developer, and your designs can be better suited to the project since you know a bit of the code’s capabilities. If the site will be in Flash, design for it. If the project will be an HTML/CSS/JS combo, then your designs will reflect this.

I don’t mean to say that you should stifle your designs to meet the code, but keeping in mind how the design will be built will help everybody in the long run. By all means, go nuts with your layout.

Conversely, if you are a developer, speak with a designer from time to time. Learn the lingo, understand the basic concepts of grid, typography, and color. Your CSS will be all the better for it.

This may be a different path to take, but it allows for greater focus in one discipline, while simultaneously integrating knowledge from the other side into your workflow. It can only help you. This isn’t the same as a “jack-of-all-trades” situation. You are primarily a designer or primarily a developer with a small bit of knowledge of the other side – enough to be dangerous. You shouldn’t be claiming to be able to do both at an equal skill level.

Conclusion

Well, up to this point I have been writing in generalities. This was not an accident, and this article wasn’t really meant to tell you what path to choose. The point here is to give you a heads-up on how to approach the choice. If you have a little bit of knowledge in each skill, then you are in a good position to make that next step. If not, here’s your opportunity to learn from others more experienced than you.

If you have already made your decision, good for you! But you may want to think about bringing in some of the other side. Ride the fence a bit. Take a look around and make a smart decision that will benefit all who work with you.

Web Lingo for the Internet Illiterate

When setting up your website or internet marketing campaign, it can sometimes get confusing when you hear all of the “techie-jargon” that web-developers use. Even that word – web-developer… what does that mean? At Butler, we always want to make it simple for our clients. This is a quick guide to help the website-illiterate understand some of the lingo used in the web world.

Building a Website is Like Building a House

When building a website, it’s helpful to compare it to building a piece of real estate property. When you buy property, you need an address that identifies the property’s location. You also need a lot – which is an empty piece of land that you can start building your property on. Once you have your address, and you purchased your lot, you can start building the actual property. Now incorporate that same process into building a website, just using different lingo:

URLYour URL is like your home address – it’s your websites identification on the internet. Your URL is how people can locate your website online. URL’s go by many names: domain name, web address, internet address, link, etc… they’re all the same thing.

HostingYour Hosting plan is like your property lot – it’s your space on the internet that you can start building on. If you have a URL but no hosting, you basically have an address without any land that it’s pointing to. If you have hosting but no URL, you basically have a piece of land that no one can locate.

Web DevelopmentWeb Development is like building the actual property – it’s the procedure used to create your website. It’s the process of creating a tangible product. Just as it is with building a home – you start with a design concept, and then you start building with wood and nails, so it is with web development. However, instead of blueprints, wood and nails, web development involves designing the look and feel of your website, and then building it with HTML code.

Websitea website is like the finished product of building a home – it’s the thing you see when you go to a web address. Just like when you go to a home address and see a house; when you go to a web address you see a website.

Webpagea webpage is like one of the rooms of a home – each webpage is different and serves a different function, and all of the webpages collectively make the entire website (just like all of the rooms collectively make the entire home). There are usually several web pages for every website. Just like you have several rooms for several different functions in your home (the kitchen is there to cook food, the dining room is there to eat food, the bedroom is there to sleep, the living room is there to relax); so it is with a website – there are several different webpages serving several different functions (the Home Page is there to grab the viewer’s attention, the About Page is there to tell the viewer more information about your website, the Contact Page is there to give your viewers the ability to reach you, etc.).

HTML CodeHTML is like the wood and nails used to construct the property – it’s a code that the internet recognizes and translates into images and text. Its one thing to design what a website should look like… it’s another thing to convert that design into a code that the internet recognizes so that it can display your design online.

Other Important Web-Terms

The above terms explain the basic elements involved with creating a website. There are a ton of other important words to know regarding your website, and internet marketing. Here are a few:

Informational Website – an Informational Website is a website in which its primary function is to display information to its viewers.

E Commerce Website – an E Commerce Site is a website in which one of its functions is to sell products or services directly from your website. E Commerce sites require a shopping cart, a product list, and some form of merchant interface (such as PayPal) that allows customers to spend money on your website.

Search Engines – A Search Engine is kind of like a phone book – it’s a directory that helps you find the websites and information that you’re looking for on the internet. If you are looking for a plumbing company in your city, you could go to the phone book and flip to the “P” section for “Plumbing” and get a list of different businesses that do plumbing. You can do the same thing online by going to search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing, and typing in “plumbing companies in my area” and it would pull up a list of different websites and information dealing with plumbing companies in your area.

SEO – SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is like a paid listing in the phone book – it helps you get seen in a higher rank on search engines. Just like there are different types of paid ads in the phone book, there are different types of search results in search engines. Search Engine Optimization is the process used to get higher rankings on search engines.

Social Media – Social Media sites are like online social clubs – you can connect with people who are interested in the same things you are. Social Media sites include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pintrest, and others. Social Media sites are open for everyone to join, and since so many people are connected to Social Media sites, businesses have learned that they can act as great marketing tools to promote their business.

CMS (Content Management System) – a CMS is a computer program that allows you to publish, edit, modify and manage content on your website, without having to modify the HTML code, because the HTML code is already created for it. Basically, if you want to be able to make minor changes and updates to your site, such as adding or removing text or images, or updating your events calendar, without having to know HTML coding, it would be beneficial to have your website setup as a CMS.

Web Templates – A Web Template is like a CMS in that you can add, edit and modify content for your website without having to know HTML code, but they are inferior because they are very basic, not unique, and hard to be found by search engines. You can get web templates for free online from several places – but it’s always preferred to have a custom site built.

Summary

There are a ton of other techie-jargon words used for web development, but these are the basics. The good news is that even if you are still a little confused, it’s okay – we’re here to help! At Butler Web and Design we handle all of the above services, and more! If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to contact us at http://butlerwebanddesign.com/contact.php

Web Database Development – The Right Choice For Your Business

Web development is an enormous field that comprises of different computer languages, database management systems, standards, and applications. Web development cannot be explained as a discrete set of components. Instead, it is a combination of lot of things linked together to get a final application. Web database development refers to development that involves database and its management on various websites. There are a lot of languages and software applications used in database development, the most important being PHP and MySQL. PHP is a server side scripting language and it stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. Similarly, MySQL is the world’s most popular database management system. To be more specific, it is a relational database management system, often abbreviated as RDBMS. Here, SQL stands for Standard Query Language.

For those who don’t know, a server side scripting language is a computer language that processes data on server before sending it to the requested user. Contrary to this, ordinary HTML pages do not need any processing on server side and hence they are directly sent to the requested user. As also stated above, PHP is a server side scripting language and it has developed a lot in past decade. There are a lot of benefits of using PHP for web database development. First of all, the noticeable thing about PHP is its usability while code designing. You don’t need to stop or halt the system in order to edit or modify coding. Secondly, interoperability is another great advantage of choosing PHP for your server side scripting. No matter what brand of computer or machine is used, PHP can run flawlessly.

Combination of PHP with MySQL offers some great web solutions that companies are looking for. The best thing about these solutions is that they are extremely cheap to build and install. Due to developed freelance networks, you can find a number of experienced PHP and MySQL professionals at very reasonable rates. Even large companies prefer these networks to get their job done at feasible rates. You can find a lot of one stop shops on various websites on internet. Asian web developers are not only smart but they offer some really great database management solutions at very reasonable rates.

There are a lot of advantages of going online in order to get your database management job done. First of all, it is quick. You won’t have to spend time in keeping meetings and going to the office every now and then. Secondly, it is extremely cost-effective – something almost every small or big company is looking for. Finally, it gives you same quality like any other office-based solution provider can give.