I’m working on teaching myself how to code in hopes of breaking into the freelance world soon (much thanks to your advice and encouragement). I’m feeling fairly confident about my HTML and CSS skills (still working on PHP) but I’m not sure how to transfer my raw knowledge into actually coding for different platforms like Blogger and WordPress. So, my question is two-fold. First, how do you learn how to code for different platforms? Second, with platforms like WordPress that work on a template system, do you have a basic template you modify with HTML/CSS each time, or do you write all of your code from scratch for every individual site?
Once you have your coding skills down I’d recommend creating test sites for the platforms you want to work on. I have dummy Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.com accounts along with two extra installs for self-hosted WordPress that I used to build client sites. You can use these sites to learn the system and play with different layouts and design elements.
I have blank templates that I created for each platform, which I use as a base for all my designs. They’re modified so I can edit and change them faster and because I created the template I know where each element is. No playing Marco Polo looking for a specific div or tag every time I go to build a site. It’s a giant time saver!
I recently started working as a graphic design intern for two women who run an Etsy shop. They are really nice and their products are pretty, but they insist on using a logo I know is wrong. I am not an expert, nor do I claim to be, but the logo is unnecessarily complicated and illegible. Yet, they are really attached to it. My question is, how do you advice a client against something you know doesn’t work? I want to do good work for them, but having to work this logo into all of my designs is killing my motivation. Do you have any advice for overcoming this type of problem? Thank you!
Great question Alexa! This is something we haven’t talked about yet, but if you work long enough as a designer someone will eventually send you a horrible looking logo/graphic/photo that they LOVE (lovelovelovelovelove!!!) that MUST be used in the design.
Generally when this happens I decide at the beginning whether or not I’m going to try to push them in another direction. You can do this by providing extra logo/graphic/photo options as a bonus. Say something like – since we’re updating your site I thought you might like to check out a few options for a new logo as well. You can also gently list a few reasons why the logo they’ve provided isn’t working – sometimes people don’t realize the problem until you point it out. You could also take their current logo and fix it up a bit – sort of meet them in the middle.
But, sometimes the client will not budge and you’ll have to make that ugly logo work. When this happens I generally create the design including their lovely logo because they’re paying me and that’s what they want, but when I add the site to my portfolio I replace their logo with one of those alternatives I tried to previously sell them on. If they notice you’ve skipped their logo in your portfolio you can let them know it’s your policy to not display work created by another designer.