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I want to start web development, I have been learning php.
I have experience in Java, Python, and C++
This experience has made me good at the back end side of web development.
But I am terrible at design and graphics.
I want to start website.
What do you guys suggest I do?
If your suggestion is to get better at graphics, what would be a good way?
I also want to know what you guys use for design and graphics, and what would be a good learning spot for it?

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I'm in this boat as well, mainly I focus on back-end stuff and just stray away from doing front-end things. –  JohnD May 26 '11 at 20:35
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5 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The quick and dirty approach is to just do it. Make a website. You see websites everyday. What elements do you like from the sites you visit? What element's don't you like? You will get better the more sites you do.

Now, if you want to put some real effort into it, there are a few books you can pick up that will help you with UI design and layout:

All three are very good and will give you the tools you need to start designing functional websites that your users will be able to easily use.

Graphics aren't as important as you think for a website. They give it that 'wow' factor for sure, but if the layout and functionality is broken, it won't save your site. It's more like the icing on the cake.

For graphics, get a graphics program that isn't Paint, and Google tutorials on it. Find one that looks interesting and do it. Try doing 3 to 5 tutorials a week. You'll find they get easier and easier. This is how I taught myself how to use Photoshop. I'm by no means a graphic artist, but I can make icons and do decent graphics.

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I agree, take note of sites that you like, and start trying to combine them. You can look at sites that sell website templates (I've used TemplateMonster.com before) as inspiration--I'm obviously not recommending stealing graphics, but you can try to re-create layouts you like to get a feel for what works well. –  Joel C May 26 '11 at 21:11
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  1. read Don't Make Me Think, by Steve Krug - this will provide functional help so your user-interfaces work well, and teach you about usability testing so you can design for the users and not just for yourself (a common developer problem)

  2. hire a pro to make stuff pretty - for when it matters, a good graphic artist can make the difference between "It's okay" and "WOW I GOTTA GET ME SOME OF THAT"

good luck!

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The book Web Design for Developers: A Programmer's Guide to Design Tools and Techniques by Brian P. Hogan is a great starting point to learn how to do web design coming from your background.

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I always thought of myself as pretty creative, but realized quickly, when I made a go at some web projects that design really is an entire field that can take just as much time to learn and keep up with as programming. I learned to expect my graphic designs be on par with a graphic designers code.

You could definitely go for it, but recognize that it is a serious time committment.

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Probably the biggest thing you can do for yourself if you plan to use any of the popular blogging platforms (e.g. blogger.com) or software (e.g. Wordpress, Drupal) is to use a pre-made theme. You can learn from each of these, and in the end, the only thing you may need to do is tweak an existing theme. I soon recognized that doing anything with graphics or design is pretty specialized, so the advice to hire this skill out is good advice.

The book recommendations on this thread have been great!

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