Learn to code and make websites of dreams

First of all I’d like you to take a moment and appreciate the beauty of this earth circling this sun. Look at that orange glow around the sun! Look at that greeny blur around the earth! Guess what. I made it. Thanks to a man called Mike at Code Academy I learnt how to use HTML to make this very simplified solar system. I had a bit of an epiphany which was that if you want to make projects happen, however they successfully they exist in real life they need to have an online presence. They kind of don’t exist fully until they are online and it’s how the project/company/initiative will be viewed by the vast majority of the public. Clearly this is not news to you as you have heard of this thing called the internet. In any case, I also went onto peopleperhour.com and loads of the jobs were for web design and they were worth a few hundred squids. The final revelation was that apparently kids are going to have coding as a core part of their curriculum soon, so unless we all want to be like our grandparents trying to find the Start button on the desktop I suggest we start figuring out what’s what. All of these things culminated in a Eureka! moment in the shower, which looked considerably less dramatic than if I’d had an Archimedes in the bath. I decided to try a social experiment.

The experiment involved me going on Facebook and writing this quite sad sounding status:

Dear friends, family and friends of friends and family. I am looking for someone to teach me basic WEB DESIGN AND HTML, can you help me?

I have no money, but can offer my skills in any of the following:

Proofreading, piano lessons (beginners/intermediate), italian lessons (beginners/intermediate), a spoken word poem to promote whatever your venture is (!), English lit tutoring for any friend/family member doing GCSE/A level Eng lit, and if you’re a non-native English speaker I can teach professional English language lessons (CELTA qualified.)

Please exchange any of my quite useless skills for your valuable one, and enjoy the modern twist on medieval bartering. PM me if you’re interested.

Unfooooortunately nobody seemed to want any of my skillz (crying inside), but they did give me shed-loads of free information about web design which I am passing on to you all. The first thing I’ll say is that I am writing this on WordPress. I almost don’t want to tell people because then everyone will snatch up all these web designey jobs I have my eye on, BUT it’s so easy. On a basic level you literally choose a template, fill in the gaps and have the option to by the domain name as a .com if it’s available. Loads of the freelance work on peopleperhour were fine with using WordPress templates.

The above Galileo-inspiring illustration was the fruit of really quite a while spent on Code Academy (link above.) It has free tutorials on html and css and was fun to do. It would take a while to create anything really useful but it made the idea of code less scary and much more accessible.

This w3 online tutorial (html) and this css one are apparently ‘less fun, but ultimately more useful in the long run, especially to look things up when you want to do something you know you can do, but you’ve forgotten how.’ One of my friends said that she used it loads throughout university and swears by w3 schools: ‘All you need to do is open a notepad, copy/modify the codes you get online and then save as HTML.’

If you’re more serious about this then there’s a programme called Dreamweaver (part of Adobe creative suite) which is apparently amazing but quite expensive. I will leave it to you to figure out how to get a copy, but I’m told that student copies are cheap (absolutely brilliant if you’ve graduated, ugh…) I was given this advice which I thought was very helpful: Dreamweaver’s ‘not too dissimilar from using Word or a basic design programme, but it creates the HTML for you without too much code entered manually. Most designers use it or similar suites exclusively or in combination with coding (depending on what you’re making.) Bear in mind that HTML is only a front end language, website functionality is usually programmed using other languages (if you’re looking to get into the industry.)

I hope this was useful and you now realise that you can learn to make beautiful web creations either as a means to an end to make money OR to bring another brain-child to life and to the attention of the world. I also encourage everyone to try a skill swap. Either you’ll swap something you can do for something useful to you, or people will pity you and tell you stuff for free. Either way you’re winning and, as one of my friends told me, you can ‘save your barter goods for when you need food/clothes.’ God.

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