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A List of Essential Web Design Skills

Updated on August 28, 2011


Your Web Designer Needs To Know These Things . . .

Hi - My name is Liz, and I'm going to describe the key list of skills I think you need in order to become a freelance web designer, or web developer.

These are the skills list you need to work towards if you decide to build your own site by hand. If you are freelancing on your own, it is not the same as working as a web designer for a company. As a freelancer you need a broader understanding of a wide range of web skills. You also need to know when your skills are good enough for the job at hand, and when you need to get help.

You can also read this hub as a list of skills that your web designer should have if he or she is going to be of real value to you.

In either event, what follows is a personal opinion. So please do comment if you agree or if you disagree.

Stuff You'll Need

Before you start on your web design journey, you're going to need

  1. A fast PC (or MAC), but preferably a PC with a screen capable of a high resolution (1900 x 1200 preferably)
  2. A fast internet connection that is always on
  3. Some reliable hosting
  4. A domain name and an email address of your own
  5. You'll need software too, but much of what you need to develop your own sites is either free, or very cheap. The only really expensive software I use at the moment is Photoshop, but there are cheap (and free) alternatives to that too.

Efficient Working Environment

1900x1200 pixel display allows for easier access to necessary tools and web pages.
1900x1200 pixel display allows for easier access to necessary tools and web pages.

A Little More About That Computer Of Yours

A Quality Working Environment Matters

When you start doing web design work for yourself, you'll find you need access to a number of web pages and tools at once. You may have a number of open windows up on your screen and if your PC is under-powered, you'll find the process more frustrating than it needs to be, which will interrupt your concentration, so hinder your progress.

Why Do I Say You Need a High Resolution Screen?

The benefit in having a display with a high resolution - practically this means you won't have to move windows around in order to read a page or use a tool. The whole window containing the entire thing you are looking at, will fit on the screen. This saves time and your temper.

See How A Typical Screen Looks at 1900x1200 Pixels

If you click on the image above, it is a screenshot of my PC screen - see how many windows I can have open all at once, that I can see without having to move them around too much? This saves you HOURS of time.

Example XHTML


XHTML is the basic language of the web. Using this technology alone will enable you to write simple, text based web sites. If you put your mind to it you can learn enough of this in an afternoon to make a simple, no frills, static web site.

Now I don't advocate this if you are trying to sell your web design skills, but if you are a newbie, just starting out, you can write a very simple site just using XHTML and you can do it without too steep a learning curve.

An example of what XHTML looks like is shown on the right. Click the image to see it full size.

XHTML is the computer language used to build the ordinary text on a web site and display images. Almost every website you'll see is made up of XHTML or HTML. This is a relatively easy language to learn and if you put your mind to it, you'll be writing XHTML pretty well within a few hours.

You can type this stuff in using notepad or an ordinary text editor. Or you can obtain an XHTML editor which will colour code what you type and help you correct syntax (the grammar of programming languages) errors.

Same XHTML - Different CSS - See The Different Pages

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is CSS Company.Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is Tiny Blue.Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is  Withering Beauty.Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is Kyoto Forest.Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is a Walk in the Garden.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is CSS Company.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is CSS Company.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is Tiny Blue.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is Tiny Blue.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is  Withering Beauty.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is Withering Beauty.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is Kyoto Forest.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is Kyoto Forest.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is a Walk in the Garden.
Same XHTML using different CSS and images. This is a Walk in the Garden.

The Power of CSS

CSS stands for cascading style sheets, which is a bit of a funny name.

It basically means that if you write a nice plain XHTML web page, you can make it look completely different by applying a separate CSS style sheet file to it.

This is powerful and simple - imagine - you can write a web page that looks one way, and by only changing the style-sheet you can make it look completely different.

Click the image thumbnails on the right. Each one is exactly the same web page, using exactly the same XHTML. The only difference is each one has a different style sheet and images applied to it.

Now do understand, to get these types of results with CSS you'll need to be very good at it, and have great graphic design skills.

BUT the point I want to make is that even just using pure CSS and XHTML, (and practically no graphics), you can still achieve a simple, good looking site that people will love. Actually people tend to prefer simpler sites in the long run - the ones they visit every day.

Bottom line - you'll need to learn CSS. And more importantly. IT'S NOT HARD.

Example of Javascript Code


JavaScript is used in conjunction with HTML to access the Document Object Model (DOM) of the web page.

JavaScript runs locally on the user's computer and can respond quickly to the user (as opposed to scripts that run on the web server which would take longer to react). Examples of why you might use Javascript are :

  • change something when the user rolls his cursor over an image or a link - for example you might change the image or re-colour the link
  • validate some user input on a form
  • open a new window - a pop-up window.

Look. I'll admit it. Javascript is a little more difficult to master if you haven't come from a programming background. It is by no means impossible, but will take a little more effort.

The good news is you can actually use a lot of pre-written Javascript modules when you first start coding, so don't be alarmed by Javascript's apparent complexity. Try looking through this web site which provides a fantastic and easy introduction to using Javascript for certain functions to get your self on the right track.

The Document Object Model

The Document Object Model, or DOM, allows a web designer to programmatically manipulate the contents of a web page.

What do you mean I hear you say?

Well, if you are new to web design I don't blame you for wondering what on earth I am talking about.

All the individual parts of a web page are accessible via well defined routines (in say Javascript) so that you can make a web page dynamic. Events - i.e user actions are also accessible which means you can respond in real time to user actions.

So - if someone clicks a link on your page, you could (if you wanted to) decide to make a new paragraph of text appear, as if by magic next to the link.

Knowing about this sort of stuff, even if you don't strictly know how to do it, means you will be more aware of the possibilities available to you on your web pages.


Next you'll need to learn about DHTML - known as Dynamic HTML. It's not another type of XHTML - it's the same XHTML we talked about earlier, but rather DHTML is concept of using all the following technologies together :

  • A scripting language - in our case Javascript
  • CSS
  • The document obect model (DOM)

These components of DHTML have already been described so I'll just talk about what DHTML does for you.

Ok - are you ready?

DHTML allows you to programmatically access every part of your web page at run-time via the DOM and Javascript so that you can alter how the web page behaves as it is running. DHTML gives you the ability to create a more dynamic web page over just a static web page (i.e. one that you wrote using only XHTML.)

Now when I say dynamic, I don't mean images jumping about all over the place. Rather more that at some point, you might need to send an item of data from one place on the page to another at run-time.

However, just to show you the sort of thing DHTML can do and also to let you see something you should no longer think about doing to a web page -the link shows a subtle snow effect over a photo.


AJAX is not yet another programmng language - it's a bit like DHTML (which uses the DOM, Javascript, XHTML and CSS together), in that it is the practice of using Javascript together with XML, but asynchronously. AJAX means Asynchronous Javascript and XML. Asynchonous means things can happen potentially, all at once.

Nowadays AJAX is used widely in Web 2.0 style web sites as it can, in most cases, significantly increase the user experience.

A simple example is shown in the link on the right : A random image is substituted by going to the web server, generating a random number which corresponds to an image, and then sending the image to the page. The page does not refresh. Cool uh? Look - don't despair - if you don't understand why this is cool. Yet!

How A PHP File Is Processed into XHTML

The process by which a PHP file is converted to XHTML
The process by which a PHP file is converted to XHTML

Server Side Scripting - e.g. PHP

You'll need to understand and use at least one server side scripting language. Examples of these are:

  • PHP
  • JSP
  • ASP or ASP.NET

to mention just a few. I use PHP as do many freelance web developers.Server side scripts allow your web pages to do a lot more than straightforward XHTML pages.

Basically, a server side scripting language is something that the webserver runs before building the XHTML web page, and may even generate XHTML on the fly. It is also used to access databases, so you can retrieve information about customers, products or users and once say a user is logged onto your web page, you can make the page personal and relevant to the them.

SEO Squirrel is Written With CodeIgniter

This web site is new and has been written using CodeIgniter v1.6.1
This web site is new and has been written using CodeIgniter v1.6.1

CodeIgniter Introduction Tutorial

PHP Framework

Although you don't need to use a PHP framework, (assuming you are using PHP as your scripting language), it can help to do so. I resisted for some time, but found that I was coding the same boring bits of web applications time and time again, so now use my PHP framework of choice which is CodeIgnitor.

CodeIgniter suits me because it is EASY. The advantages of CodeIgniter are many. The number one advantage being that it is utterly simple to install, both on your Windows development box AND on your Linux webserver. To install on both, I guarantee will take you a maximum of 1 minute per installation. Try that with symfony, Zend Framework CakePHP or any of the others.

CodeIgniter is small and fast and easy to use. Even if you have never heard of the MVC architectural pattern.

That said, if your web developer does not use a framework, no worries. It is just better usually for productivity if he/she does.

MySQL Example

An example of some PHP code accessing a MySQL database
An example of some PHP code accessing a MySQL database

Database Skills - e.g. MySQL

MySQL is a freely available relational database management system and is the best choice for the freelance web designer.

A database enables you to store information that you can retrieve at a later date and enables you to store :

  • specific items of data about customers
  • allows for customer login and password retrieval
  • personalisation of web pages
  • customer accounts and history of transations
  • product descriptions and pricing

The list is in fact, endless and is entirely dependent on how you want the database to enhance the functionality of your website.

You will need database design and maintenance skills in order to create well organised and extensible design. But, I want to say - it is another thing to learn, true - BUT - it really isn't that hard. I did a Computing Science University degree in the UK, and studied database design so I know it from the academic viewpoint and from having been a database consultant for years in the City of London banking environment. That was a challenging time - I mean I had to tune (like tuning an engine) databases with many millions of records.

You probably won't be dealing with more than a few thousand records in any database you create for your first or second web design project. So don't worry about it. It is a lot to learn, but if you want to, you can do it.

If you don't, then like I said earlier (or maybe in some other hub) - go see Ken Evoy.

Search Engine Optimization - Internet Marketing

There are four elements to internet marketing - the process by which you bring targetted traffic to your web site. Namely :

  1. on page search engine optimization - this is where you construct each page on your web site to be as appealing to search engines as it is to humans
  2. paid advertising - this might be pay per click advertising
  3. excellent website content- this means you can't just have a 5 or 10 page website (well you can initially, but you have to add a new page or three every week, or so until you have hundreds of pages on your web site). Excellent and copious content will attract incoming links
  4. off page optimization - this is where you use directories, social media sites, forums and others to bring in relevant traffic and add to your search engine density.

Build It And They Will Come . . . No They Won't!

Many people believe that all you have to do is build a pretty, web site with a cool design with about 5 pages and people will flock to it. They just don't get it. The site shown up above is one such site. Since creating this hub, the site has been taken down.

How cool is a site that looks good when it gets few visitors.

  • web design is not all about graphic design
  • web design is not secretarial (typing)
  • web design is not something a graphic designer can just turn his hand to
  • web design is a comprehension of, and ability to use a large number of internet technologies

Photoshop - Making It Look Good

All right - you don't need to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop in particular. There are lots of other image manipulation programs out there that cost a lot less. However, there are zillions of Photoshop tutorials for practically anything you'll ever want to do, so I tend to favour the use of this program.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that by learning this program you will become a talented graphic designer - you may already be one, in which case good for you.

But if you are like me, you don't have any graphic design skills. Just make your mind up to learn a few simple tasks using this tool, and you'll be able to make professional, graphically enhanced websites without being artistic. 

Sister Snog Flash Website

An example of a full flash web site.
An example of a full flash web site.


You Can Avoid It If You Want To

Unless 100% Flash web sites are something in which you want to specialise, there is no need to dash out and buy a copy of Macromedia Flash right now.

Check Out Sister Snog

See the link on the right ->>>>

Like I said - what this site is about doesn't hit you straight away. I think that is the downside of slow reveal flash sites.  It is graphically beautiful BUT the information it contains is severely limited. This means people will not be flocking this this site in their thousands from the search engines. They won't be able to find it. The site owners probably don't value Google search engine listings and must have found a better way to make their site known. Maybe off-page, via Twitter and other social media, and/or by PPC. 

Try doing a site command in Google like : You can see there are very few listings. That's the sum total of what Google knows about the site. But interestingly, if you do this command instead : (without the www), you'll find they've tried to address this by starting a blog in a subdomain of sistersnog. This looks like a new addition to the site, and should help a lot in bringing in visitors.

Flash Doesn't Work Well In Search Engines, True . . .

The reason is, that whilst a full-on Flash site can look wonderful and display safely in any size of screen, using any flash enabled browser, it generally has very little textual content. And what little content it has, (unless you take extra steps to duplicate the content in XHTML and employ a measure of cloaking), can't been seen by search engines. This situation is changing and a friend of mine called Fadi is an expert in making Flash sites visible to search engines. If this interests you, please contact him at solutions416.

. . .But Text Isn't What Flash Is All About Anyway

Flash is after all primarily a graphical tool, and text features low on the agenda of most fully Flashed web sites because if the designers wanted a lot of text, they would probably have used XHTML instead.

A Compromise

The answer to using Flash for most of us is not to build 100% full Flash sites, but rather to use Flash in key situations on a standard XHTML site, deploying it only where you need to make a visual presentation of the type that Flash does so well.

Used in this way, Flash is not the container, but rather one of many possible items in an XHTML container. Used this way, Flash has no impact on search engine visibility and you can use the rest of your site to communicate using text and images.

There are many low cost, Flash generation tools that you can use to create small Flash presentations. I really like 3DFA and use it for most of my Flash output.

On Page Search Engine Opimization

As you build your website, you'll need to keep in mind what your goal for building it is. Presumably you'll want visitors - a website with no interested visitors isn't really up to much is it?

It's Not Hard

There are a number of simple steps to take to optimize each page for search engines like Google. Other types of optimization nowadays take place off page (i.e. with the other things you do to create interest in your site that don't take place on your site), but you should not neglect the foundational importance of on-page optimization. It is part of what makes your site eligible for appearing on a first page position in Google for example.

Briefly, you'll need to create good quality title tags, description tags headings and content, that are on target for each page's topic. You'll need to make sure each image is properly tagged, (I saw a 'guru' on a YouTube video the other day actually say that alt tags on images are no longer important - like DUH!). Alt tags on images ARE important. But maybe you need to learn how best to write them for both your visitors and for Google.


There is a lot to learn if you decide to become a web designer, and more importantly as I hope I have emphasized, a lot your web designer needs to know before you hire him/her. I will add to this skills list over the next couple of days as I can think of quite a few more items to include.

Just Starting Out With A Business Web Site?

If you are just starting out with a new business and need a website, you can of course hire a web designer to do everything for you, but do consider

  • finding the right web designer with the types of skills I have talked about
  • maintaining the site yourself without resorting to tools that turn the process into some sort of WYSIWYG-fest. If you hide behind point-and-click tools you will never understand what is going on and never know how to apply subtle but important code changes to site. You only have to spend some time in Site Build It forums to see that much.
  • I don't believe you can really be serious about making your living online unless you have a big starting budget and can afford to hire people to work (and think) on your behalf, or if you already know everything you need to know and can therefore competently outsource.
  • well, this hub is over 3 years old now, and a lot of stuff has happened since I wrote it. One of the things we have done is to stop doing so much web design work and now we create more products. We are building a new product that will create sites -WordPress sites - professionally for you at a low price, including all aspects of what we believe makes a good website. It won't stop you having to learn, but it will prevent you getting stuck on the way as your site will be technically correct and good looking from day 1. If you would like to be on the mailing list to be notified when the first version of this product is ready, please visit the contact page here : and let me know you are interested.

Think About Maintaining Your Website Yourself

So by all means pay someone to start the site for you - you know set up the basic template and the first few pages, but thereafter you or someone in your organisation needs to be in control. I believe your web site is too important to entirely outsource its development.

If you can find someone competent to start you off (and I don't mean someone who can only do beautiful drawings, I mean a technical web designer who knows how to use a template to make up for their graphics shortcomings) who can do everything functionally you could ever dream of with a web site, and ask that person to answer your questions when you get stuck, you could think about handling the update and maintenance of the site yourself.

You'll be amazed at how your confidence will grow and the upside is that when you do really need help, you'll be in a strong position to figure out who can help, how much it should cost and you'll be pyschologically prepared to learn from the experience.

Please don't forget to contact me here if you want to be one of the first to use our new low cost WordPress site builder product.



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    • profile image

      DoveFreexrolo 23 months ago

      It is in reality a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Paul Castledine, Cornwall. 6 years ago

      I'm a Graphic Designer venturing into Web Design...there's so much more to learn and very little resources, such as yours, that tells you everything you NEED to know on one page. I found your article extremly useful, at least now I know where to begin. So thank you Liz.

    • profile image

      Shahab 6 years ago


      I study programming 10 years ago, I would like to learn php MySQL, java, joomla, etc. to design a website like or

      I was looking for sources like from or many other sites, I have learnt some but not realty good enough. I think an online teacher may be able to help, so I learn step by step, and do projects and solve my problems and get answers to my questions.

      I can use PayPal to pay you. Or western union, let me know your price per course, based on what I have explained above.



    • Bldg an Architect profile image

      Bldg an Architect 6 years ago

      This is a big help. I'm just starting to learn about web design. Thanks!

    • kl2000 profile image

      kl2000 6 years ago

      Very detailed article. Wait you forgot something - no sleep and lots of coffee! (:

    • profile image

      vishal 6 years ago

      Thanku very much for such a nice nd informative page, i was desperately lukin for such a thing !!


    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      @monkeymason - the ideas in this hub still hold true, but since I wrote it I moved to specialising in WordPress. The reason is that it can be a faster solution to the end product. I still think you need to know what you are doing though - I spend a lot of time each week helping people who use WordPress but don't ever learn enough basic HTML - so they get stuck and confused and their sites tank. In your case - take the ideas presented here, and use WordPress to build your comparison site. You can get a plugin to help you - there are a few to choose from : but you could try looking at this :

    • profile image

      MonkeyMason 6 years ago

      hiya liz am mason and im wanting to start a comparison website and since your the most knowledgeable person ive found on the subject i would apreciate it if you would set me off in the right direction please

    • profile image

      MonkeyMason 6 years ago

      hiya liz my names mason im just wondering if you new what skills are required to create a comparison website is it something you havnt mentioned or is it a mixture of a few and thanks for creating this hub its got me off to a good start

    • iain-mars profile image

      iain-mars 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I bought a few books on HTML, PHP and MySQL and would highly recommend anyone thinking of setting themselves up as a web designer to get books covering these subjects as the first thing to do.

    • profile image

      sprasanna 6 years ago

      Hi, Its really good article. I am using HTML, CSS and good in Photoshop for web related designs. And I wanna develop additional skills like PHP, JSP, ASP, mySQL, XML, XHTML, DHTML and Javascript. And your article gave me good inspiration to learn. Thanks Stormy.

    • profile image

      kiranmai reddy 6 years ago

      Nice article.Thanks a lot.

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      @Charles - You should learn HTML and buy a book on HTML5, and add this to your base knowledge of HTML. Use HTML5 where you can, where you understand it is will be seen, and understood by various browsers, and provide a fallback for things that don't yet work in HTML5 in all browsers that you are interested in.

    • mr-burns profile image

      mr-burns 6 years ago

      Very detailed hub. Thanks for the tips

    • profile image

      Mahender Singh 6 years ago

      Good Article

    • profile image

      Charles 6 years ago


      I am just getting into web design and this site is a big help and great site! I am curious, where does HTML5 fit into this list? Does it belong at the beginning at HTML and CSS? Does it belong with DHTML? Should I learn HTML, *then* HTML5, or just HTML5?

      Thanks in advance!

    • profile image

      pradeep 6 years ago

      thanks...this is the best way of understanding....thank u so much

    • profile image

      allen 6 years ago

      good work you have done for new upcomimg web desingers like me; thanks for all it.

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Zohaib - you can write software, you understand object oriented design. You are in a good position to make the transfer to small business web development if you wish. Not sure what you mean by "make an opensource website". If you want to make a website for yourself, you have to decide what the website is for. Once you decide that, if you want to, please come back here and I can help you further.

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Dimitri - no JAVA is not an essential skill for a web designer, although it is a language used by some developers when building server side programs that in turn, communicate with client side websites. My husband used to program in JAVA when he worked in banking - some banks use it a lot. Barclays did, where he worked.

      It is more usual for independent web designers and developers to focus on PHP, but if you prefer to learn or to use JAVA, that's fine. However a lot of freelance work is around PHP. It just depends what you want to do and the market you want to address. JAVA is probably a little more corporate than small business.

    • profile image

      Zohaib 6 years ago

      Hello..i am basically a Telecom Engineer but i have very good skills os C/C++, but i am very much confused that how can i use these skills to make an opensource website and how should i proceed ? i am doing a job in Telecom but my interest is in coding so i want to do it at my own.can you please help me that frm where should i start ? Please note that i have good skills of c/c++ and i have only done the coding in mircosoft visual studio c++...

    • profile image

      Dimitri 6 years ago

      Hi, very nice post! I was wondering if JAVA is also an essential skill for web developer / web designer? Thank you Dimitri

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Thanks for your comment. I would agree with you on some level - but also feel you are being too pedantic given the context. For most people, if they successfully write any markup language well, they will be to all intents and purposes, producing code. They are producing coded notations. I might not call it programming but it is coding. I blame Bill Gates. Until he came along, only those of us that did this for a living knew anything about computers. Now even pets and inanimate objects have Facebook pages.

      XML does get transformed by XSLT ... and a site visitor via links and visual enticements placed on a page does have their progress variously altered. Looking at your definition - I am just pointing out that you can influence a user's path through a site with only XHTML. It does not always have to be because it was dynamically presented (by programming), but that is it cleverly presented.

      Thank you for your input to this page.


    • profile image

      Jeremy 6 years ago

      I would like to just correct one thing I have noticed (sorry for being far too particular), but XHTML or HTML for that matter even XML is not coding.

      Coding is not static (X)HTML, coding is when you allow a user to go through a path of logic of a site changing it's appearance based on their actions.

      In no way does XHTML or HTML or even XML allow for you to change content of a page based on a users actions, that's up for coding, it's markup which is 100% a different thing

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Don't say I don't try to please.

    • hotwebideas profile image

      Bruce Chamoff 6 years ago from New York

      Thanks for the follow on Twitter. I could always use a follow from you on Hubpages as well. hint hint ;)

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Thanks - very much appreciated. I will start a new hub but we are in the midst of making products nowadays and time is short. I'll have to start following you on Twitter. Which reminds me, I must put more effort into Twitter . . .

    • hotwebideas profile image

      Bruce Chamoff 6 years ago from New York

      stormyweather, the fact that Thek1ngsway thought you plagiarized was his problem, not yours. I think you did a great job on this hub and you are teaching a lot of new web designers the field with your hub, so congratulations to you on that as well.

      I have written some popular hubs about the web design business itself and have developed over 300 websites with the technologies you list above, so as someone who has been doing this for 15 years, I encourage to keep going with this hub and to keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing more great hubs from you.


    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Yes Bruce - maybe I was a bit harsh with Mr Web Developer up there. He is only doing what he has to do!

      I did approve his comment. I was actually a bit annoyed at the time by another hubber who left a stupid comment here (which I marked as spam and deleted). I won't give him a link, but his hub name is Thek1ngsway. He wrote that hubpages were wrong to publish my hub and to let it get such a good score. Because according to Thek1ngsway he had read this hub elsewhere online and therefore condemned my original work as a cut and paste job. What a nerve! Makes me wonder about the originality of his content.

    • hotwebideas profile image

      Bruce Chamoff 6 years ago from New York

      Hey stormyweather, good points about the spam, but I always end my comments with "Bruce". LOL

      Anyway, regardless of updates, I think the technologies that you wrote about still stand today. I wrote some hubs on HTML 5, CSS 3, and jQuery that you are welcome to checkout.

      I think a lot of DHTML and AJAX are being handled by most web designers simply with jQuery.

      I do like your information about search engine optimization.

      Keep up the good work! Great hub. Voted up!

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Hey Web Developer - I think you are right, it does need an update. But you know what? People just use hubpages (as you have) to generate anchor text relevant backlinks off my hub. So not sure it's worth an update just so it can be spammed out of existence. I mean you are not actually called Web Developer are you? That's not your name. You're not the only one though - everyone is at it here.

    • profile image

      website designing and development 6 years ago

      I am very happy to read your articles it’s very useful for me,

      and I am completely satisfied with your website.

      All comments and articles are very useful and very good.

      website designing and development

    • profile image

      Web Developer 6 years ago

      Hi thank you for a great hub. Good information for both PC and Mac users. I think it needs an update though, plenty new technology out now.

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      Vernon Web Design 6 years ago

      Great hub and very complete. There will always be new technologies, but If you get a decent grasp of what stormweather has said here... yo're well on your way to becoming an efficient web developer/designer.

      Thanks Stormweather!

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Blender - I did intend to keep it updated but the sheer amount of tech you need nowadays is overwhelming. And your point about still needing what is listed here is true. I have since moved onto using mostly WordPress and I may do another hub about my take on that.

    • blender profile image

      blender 6 years ago from Vancouver, BC

      I can't believe how much information you have included here, great hub! I am curious - have you been updating this page over the years to keep it current? It seems a little dated on the one hand, but at the same time all the technologies it mentions I am still using...

    • hotwebideas profile image

      Bruce Chamoff 6 years ago from New York

      Hey Liz, great hub. I just got into CodeIgniter and wrote 2 hubs on MVC including one on creating your own MVC system.


    • greencap profile image

      greencap 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Great hub, its "web design all in one" sort of thing. A starter like me thinks it should be all too easy, but unfortunately, its not.

      Start learning from HTML and CSS (which i found extremely difficult to master with the casual approach). Javascript and Php are easy if you have good programming background. Graphics, AJAX, Flash and ............, its really a long list.

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 7 years ago from Devon, UK

      Jason - I am still learning, but there comes a point when you are good enough to get paid and do work for others, or use your skills to create your own sites to make income. In the latter case you'll be good enough to start something for yourself within a week. But I'd leave off charging other people for your work until you are pretty competent.

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      Jason 7 years ago


      Great educational information first of all. Absolutely loving it.

      As I am learning some of these programs myself right now, I have a question: how long did it take you to master all these skills and software? What order did you learn them in?


      Jason Li

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 7 years ago from Devon, UK

      Coldfusion isn't something I've ever used. Maybe when you've learned it you can write hubpage about it!

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      7 years ago

      Hi! This is a great hub post! Thanks for making it crystal clear and making some sense of the chaos.

      In the last three weeks, I have done this:

      1. Learnt Sony vegas 9 from youtube posted tutorials

      2. Learnt Dreamweaver CS3 and coldfusion through essentials and advanced video tutorials from total

      3. Learnt Flash CS3 through essentials course from total training. com

      4. Learning object oriented programming basics before diving into PHP and Javascript.

      I downloaded trial software from Adobe and Sony sites. And those total trianign videos - I got them free because my local library has licensed those videos. I found those 8 hour hands on videos to be more informative and productive than books or class room sessions. I could stop, explore, navigate and follow along watching those videos.

      Of course the next steps is to do photoshop, fireworks, mySQL, PHP,coldfusion and more hands on of everything I have learnt so far. I am also chalking out ideas about the websites I want to build and in parallel will start desining at least one. And I want to spend more time designing than building initially.

      Meanwhile, does COLDFUSION stand strong along with PHP,ASP etc? How would you rate COLDFUSION?

      I have learnt so much in the last three weeks. Web Design and Programming is a great field for me as I love constant learning and uninterrupted. i.e I don't have to go to class, wait for others to understand, pay crazy fees for lab work etc etc. I can sip my OJ at home at my desk and learn away!

      Thanks much and I will follow your blog more often now.

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      Erkan 7 years ago

      Perfect post, great information... Thanks a lot Liz. What about using APIs or developing APIs for our web site? Can you give some information also for that? Thanks.

    • rogermac profile image

      Roger Mac 7 years ago from Cascais - Portugal

      What great information you have here. Well done!

    • Spider Girl profile image

      Spider Girl 7 years ago from the Web

      Great hub actually, I'm a web designer myself and appreciate your effort putting all the skills you need in a single article, very helpful for a newbie!

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 7 years ago from Devon, UK

      Ram - it depends where in the world you live and it depends on whether you decide to go it alone or join a web design /development company. It will also depend on your skill level. I think that so many people want to be web designers now that the market is very crowded. The best use of your skills is to use them to make your won sites to generate your income. So yes - you are a webs designer, but you are doing it for yourself. Not for other people.

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      ram 7 years ago

      I think it is very useful for me. may i know about salary for web designers

    • Courtney Brazley profile image

      Courtney Brazley 7 years ago

      great information.i too wish i had found this article when i first got started, it would've save me some headaches.

      but the greatest teacher is experience and once you get started building websites, you will naturally break into learning, at least the basics of, css and java. you simply have to in order to move forward and grow.

    • magnexor profile image

      Ross Libby 7 years ago

      This is a great article. I wish I had come across it when I first began web-design. I can't stress enough how much knowing CSS changes the web-design process! Glad you covered it, thanks for this article!

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      web design 7 years ago

      Do we really want most of the Web to look practically the same? I’m really getting worried about the popularity of Web 2.0 trends in Web&Graphic Design. It’s getting harder and harder to find a truly unique, originally designed website/logo nowadays. I wish Web 3.0 will bring some distinctiveness to the modern design.

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 7 years ago from east of the equator

      Back again and still appreciate your article. Cheers.

    • NNazir profile image

      Nauman Nazir 7 years ago from Pakistan

      In my opinion every pro designer needs to have grip or least have some hand on

      - xHTML and CSS

      - Client-side scripting (Javascript)

      - Server-side scripting (ASP.Net or PHP)

      - Database (MySQL)

      - SEO

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      Ironmongery 7 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to share this information. It has proved to be very useful.

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 7 years ago from Devon, UK

      Hey crabsssssssss - so read other hubs instead. We didn't force you to read this one!

    • profile image

      crabssss. 7 years ago

      geeks. (:

    • isyan profile image

      isyan 7 years ago

      wow.. that is one huge hub.. its very useful for us web designers.. thanks for this informative hub..

    • UKLinkBuilding profile image

      UKLinkBuilding 7 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Found this hub page really helpful! Thanks very much for taking the time to make it!

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      prashant jain 7 years ago

      m really thankfull to U..........

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      Mahaveer Singh 7 years ago


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      Oliver 7 years ago

      Great beginners guide. Ignator looks pretty good. Check out for some free tips as well. Anyone know of any other tips sites?

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      MrMike 7 years ago

      Thanks Stormy! Great read. I agree with you about hand coding. Have you checked out I like his blog and his work. Learned CSS there and W3. I'm working on Jquery stuff now. I have a hard time with Javascript...I'm solid with vbs for administrative and compiled programs but javascript gives me headaches the syntax seems so weird...but I keep plugging away at it. Anyway, I haven't tried php yet have focused on and MS offers Visual Studio express web dev, which is great for learning. It switches between WYSWYG and code readily, which I use to set the page up how I want and then I look at the code and learn how to tweak it. It has auto complete, which allowed me to start coding with minimal knowledge and as time has gone on, much code has become 2nd nature to me. Love it! for those interested in anyway...don't know if something that helpful exists for php...if so, let me know. Do you have a good reference for Jquery? the site and tutorials are helpful but require lots of searching...looking for a guide of sorts.

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      ewebclone 7 years ago

      Thank you! I totally agree with that w3schools is a great place to start a web development.

    • harrist profile image

      harrist 7 years ago from on the Net

      very nice info thanks for sharing

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      Dain 7 years ago

      That was a very nice article to read thank you =D

    • adorababy profile image

      adorababy 7 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      Being an effective web designer requires developing a number of different skills. Not all of these skills are limited to the technical and artistic aspects of web design. Communicating with clients, project management, and promotion are all important as well.

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      justinjools 7 years ago

      I think you need to add python and django to your list of Server Side Scripting languages. Python is easier to learn for any beginner annd much more readable, it is also much faster building database driven sites in Django, and it is a better technology than PHP. Since discovering Python/Django I would not go back to the headaches trying to decipher PHP as a database building tool, although I still need to hack some PHP scripts when using CMS or e-commerce systems I would never choose it as a development too1 again.


      also a section on CMS, Blog and e-commerce systems.

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      Web Design Hamilton 7 years ago

      Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Modx CMS... that's everything I use.

      I want to buy Swish for flash.

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      ekoy 7 years ago

      WOW! very informative. i guess i have too much to learn first.. :(

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very good article. You write well and provide some valuable information..

    • whostingreview profile image

      whostingreview 8 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      Really good hub Stormy,

      You also need a plan that you can stick to if you are freelancing. I know for a fact that there can be days that you don't feel like working, but you need to develop a pattern and STICK to it.

      Also, it is very important to network in order to get more and more clients ;)

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      Kelvin Loney 8 years ago

      Hi Stormy,

      First off let me thank you for putting up such valuable information. It is greatly appreciated! Secondly, I have about 3 questions that I wanted to ask you. Yes I know it’s a lot but please bear with me! If you can answer all 3 for me I will be most grateful!

      My first question is: I have an A.S. degree in Web Development and unfortunately my school didn’t teach me the finer things like XHTML, CSS and JavaScript, so of course my current skills are way out-of-date. I have taken the W3Schools tutorials and I was planning on buying the HTML, XHTML and CSS for Dummies book to upgrade my knowledge and skill set. I was wondering, is that the right book to start off with and secondly, is there anything else that you would recommend that I do?

      My second question is: Once I’m able to get an understanding of the current trends in web design I of course want to design a website that displays my abilities. The thing is that I don’t want to do a “portfolio”. Honestly, in my opinion, I feel that a portfolio is amateurish and unprofessional. I want to do a legitimate, professional website that will show employers that I’m able to create something that they can actually use. As it stands I have no idea what kind of site I want to design. Do you have any ideas that you can give me?

      And my last question is: To be perfectly honest, the only reason why I took up web design in college is because I liked the fact that I could be creative. I never really liked to code. Maybe that’s why I gravitated towards Macromedia Flash! So as you can probably tell I am most definitely a creative person and not an analytical, logical person. Being that, I have a difficult time learning or even finding an interest in coding. But also, I’m torn because I feel that in order to be a good web designer coding is something that I just can’t avoid. That is why I thought about getting my B.A. in Graphic Design. Funny thing, I always thought that I should build upon the web design degree that I already have, but the way I figure it, with a graphic design degree I can still be creative without having to code and not only that an employer would see that I have a web AND graphic design degree on my resume and think that I was well-rounded. So Stormy what do you think about this decision and is it a good career move?

      Thanks in advance for your help!

      p.s. If you can’t reach me on your hub, kindly send your response to Thanks!

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great info! I have bookmarked this hub for further reading..

    • profile image

      Sean 8 years ago

      very useful web design content thank you. I will share this to clients

    • profile image

      wvector 8 years ago

      Great tips thank you.

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      wayne 8 years ago

      Hi Stormy great Hub! Much needed reference to all website designer.. Thanks for the share :)

    • profile image

      Upasna 8 years ago

      from where should i do web-designing course?

      and is it fruitfull to pursue d carrer as a web-desginer?

    • Thunderthud profile image

      Thunderthud 8 years ago from Ohio and Taiwan

      Very informative hub. I plan to use it as a reference resource.

    • profile image

      kulandaivelan 8 years ago

      thanks to u i really got so much of idea from this.

    • profile image

      Graphic Design Manchester 8 years ago

      Very well written and informative.

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      web design lebanon 8 years ago

      Great post. It will help to master a CMS and blogging platforms.

    • profile image

      mikeWagner098 8 years ago

      This is a well organized, thorough hub that I found very useful. Thank you for sharing!


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      eko 8 years ago


      this is so inspiring. getting a fast PC is a great. i used to upgrade my laptop memory to maximum value, ie: 2x2GB.

      anyway, choosing the right web layout design is a bit confusing for me. some says adobe photoshop is good, while others say adobe fireworks is better. so what do you think? what's your favorite software to make web mockup? thank you.

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      Gordon Kennedy 8 years ago

      Search engine optimisation is not very useful for small local businesses. When you start as a freelancer - this is the sort of busniess that you will be working for. The reason is that you can get thousands of hits per month- but if the surfers live more than, say, 20 miles from the business then few will result in sales.

      Rather than optimise these websites to the nth degree then help small local businesses to do some simple things :

      - make sure the business has a simple, memorable URL which

      has the business name e.g.

      - register with Google Local

      - have a large sign with the URL shown prominently

      - get business cards printed with the URL and give them

      to each customer

      - use tillrolls with the URL printed prominently

      - give customers freebies with the URL written on

      them (chocolates, mints etc.)

      - leaflet local houses and show the URL prominently on

      the leaflets

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      Jason Stokes 8 years ago

      Nice article. I haven't tried code ignator before but from what I see in the video it looks pretty good.


      Plecco Technologies, Inc.

      A Charleston Web Design Company

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      anita williams 8 years ago

      thanks Stormy for providing an inspirational and comprehensive content. It has great information. Anita

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      blackstonepublish 8 years ago

      Hey, nice hub. Was looking for some well written web design hubs and yours are all extremely informational.

    • tonyhubb profile image

      tonyhubb 8 years ago

      Great Hub! Thanks for the info and for the tips! I really learned a lot reading your hubs.

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 8 years ago from Devon, UK

      Thank you Jeff - if you've any questions please ask - I'll do my best to provide good accurate answers. Stormy

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      jeff yee 8 years ago

      Thank you for explaining the different types of skills that a web designer should know in a comprehensible way. David Childress in the forum referred me to your hub. For someone trying to enter the field, you provided some crucial info that I needed to know. You rock Stormy!


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      jonty 8 years ago

      this is really a wonderful hub....

      very informative .... very nicely explained ....

      keep the good work up .... god bless you .....

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 8 years ago from Devon, UK

      David - Sounds like you're really learning a whole bunch of interesting stuff. I wish you all the good luck in the world, you deserve it. Please come back and show us some of your sites when you're ready.


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      DavidChildress 8 years ago

      Great site for someone like me who is just starting out and is attempting to learn this on my own.

      I am using 3 of the textbooks that Stormy has recommended... Each has their own specific strengths.

      Ian Lloyd's, "Learn to Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way Using HTML & CSS" is the perfect text for someone totally new... He could have tried to cram in a lot more in 424 pages but it WOULD HAVE COME AT THE EXPENSE of "clarity".

      The Sitepoint book matrix states that Ian Lloyd's book will take you through "beginner" status and prepare you for an Intermediate-level textbook... I agree.

      Jennifer Kyrnin of York Times)HTML/XHTML forum is now incorporating Lloyd's text into her free beginner's class.

      Stormy is one of the FEW PEOPLE that I have seen that recommends Patrick Carey's "New Perspectives on HTML, XHTML & CSS".

      The author has just published the same text with a 4-chapter suffix on DHTML drawn from his new standalone DHTML book.

      The strength of this text is once again "clarity/understanding" BUT IT IS ALSO chock full of projects that the student must work through... the later projects in each chapter and in the text require the student to take more responsibility for page creation AS OPPOSED TO relying on the student data files.

      Chapter 7(Multimedia) in this book has presented problems for me which I'll try try to tackle later on at another point in my studies... The rub here is that the experts in 3 forums have not even attempted to take a crack at them also... The Student Data Files for the Chapter 7 tutorial are incomplete when accessed from the primary site... Go to the mirror site to get the COMPLETE offering of Student Data Files for Chapter 7.

      The New Perspectives text is a MUST PURCHASE book... If I had to buy only two texts it would be those listed above.

      I also like the Elizabeth Castro, "Visual Quickstart Guide to HTML, XHTML & CSS".... It is a PERFECT REFERENCE companion to the other two texts as one gets bite-sized chunks of explanatory tasks COUPLED with visual screenshots... I'd recommend reading the screenshots and captions first and then look at the associated text... This book is EXTENSIVELY cross-referenced and for total beginners, it is a must that you follow the cross referencing when Castro employs it.... You'll have to go through this book a couple of times (maybe even three times)to get the benefit of what is crammed in here.

      When I go through and complete each SPECIFIC TASK contained in the chapters in the Lloyd and Carey texts mentioned above, I then look through to see what Castro has posted on that same SPECIFIC TASK in her book.

      This is the way I hope to learn HTML & CSS...

      Again, thanks to Stormy for providing a roadmap for further study beyond the Intro texts, I'm currently using....

      When I attempt to tackle the problematic aspects of Chapter 7 in the Carey text once more, I'll let you all know how things proceed.

    • Nikita Adnani profile image

      Design Junction : Web Design Agency 8 years ago from Melbourne

      This Hub explains perfectly why it is important to hire a professional web designer! What a wealth of information -- especially when you consider SEO and strong copywriting on top of it. Excellent job explaining everything in understandable terms. Amazing!

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      Vietnam 8 years ago

      Very good info, thanks

    • BM Solutions profile image

      BM Solutions 8 years ago from England

      Excellent hub.

      plenty of good information there for any up and coming web designer.

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      Yasas Perera 8 years ago

      Well..First of all pardon me for my poor english.I was well known as a freelance flash designer several months ago and trust me..I didn't know anything about scripting side except action scripting..However I wanted to go beyond my design skills.After that I spent more and more time in W3Schools to learn web developing skills.Somehow I managed to learn xhtmland xml sides.I always had this intention of using my design skills to design mockups and convert them into html.I'm still on my way to success. :) All this time I didn't stop my flash designing as I had to keep my position.had to keep it steady.

      I really like your point of view Liz.We can't limit our skills under one big roof.This space around us is only getting bigger and bigger.So we have to work harder to gain something.I have this dream ever since my childhood until now to become a top graphic designer.(smiles) Now I need to learn browser scripting and server scripting sides.

      Again I say..This hub will make a big difference in the reader's mind.I mean in a good way..You're thinking on both sides and that's the most unique part. :) i think you should start writing a book Liz.Trust me..there will be a crowd of millions.

      But I feel bad about one thing...I had to find this article 15 months ago.I feel so jealous of Raven King by now.keep up your good work storm!

    • profile image

      water cooled pcs 8 years ago

      What a great collection of all the main website design skills and we found this very usefu, thanks

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      Jeevan4u 8 years ago

      very informative, thanks a lot for this web resource

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      reed 9 years ago

      thanks for clearing up what AJAX was, I constantly heard things like "it's made with AJAX" and I was always overwhelmed that i had to learn this whole new programming language... i guess i filled all of those criteria except javascript. thanks for the links.

    • stormyweather profile image

      stormyweather 9 years ago from Devon, UK

      Hi Muhammad

      Can a coder become a web designer? Well I think so. If you are not artistic and have not been trained as a designer, you probably won't ever be able to make web designs that take people's breath away. You know the ones I mean. But, you *will* be able to create professional, clean communicative and effective designs using a few tips and tricks. After all, we want our site visitors to keep breathing and convert into customers. Some of the most successful sites online are very simply designed. Study those sites and copy their design layouts using your own graphics. It is a good way to learn.

      Don't ever forget - the design has to be professional - it has to look like it was put together properly, but mostly it has to work for the business comissioning the site. Many people want their sites to look like works of art and forget this has nothing to do with the site's ability to deliver sales, enquiries or whatever it is that the site is there for.

      There will always be those real designers who will say "no way - you can't do it", but don't listen. They shouldn't worry about coders who design. Graphic designers have a market for their skills that no-one will take away - they have nothing to fear. After all, we don't lose sleep over designers that code, do we? :-)