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Web Design With Photoshop CS5

Khayembii Communique

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Whoo I started a thread on web design a while back and after looking through my options I'm actually interested in getting into designing websites within Photoshop for clients and then contracting out to a programmer to create the website itself.

I don't have much experience with Photoshop CS5, so I bought a premium member subscription to lynda.com as I really wanted some kind of structure in the tutorials I'm going through, and it has been helping me a ton.

I guess I was just wondering if anyone here has any experience designing websites in Photoshop, and if so was hoping you could offer me some tips on what I should learn with regards to Photoshop and also maybe the business side of things.

I'm giving myself until the end of August to be able to live at the very least off this freelance work plus a part time job, but ideally off freelance work alone. My living expenses at the very minimum are about $850/month. I don't think this is unrealistic, though it is incredibly ambitious. I think this is feasible because web design in Photoshop is easier to learn than just going into straight up graphic design work.

Does anyone have any experience with this? What information can you offer me? Any books or websites you know of that I might find useful? If anyone here has done freelance work for this, where did you start? Where did you get clients? How do you get clients now? How do you bill? Do you do the programming yourself or contract out, and if so to whom?
 

deadly7

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Originally Posted by JLay87
Whoo I started a thread on web design a while back and after looking through my options I'm actually interested in getting into designing websites within Photoshop for clients and then contracting out to a programmer to create the website itself.
You will have no margins if you don't do all the work yourself, unless you want to risk your professional name by hiring an inexperienced web developer. Taking on a freelance programmer is only feasible if you are a big name in website graphics/templating. As a newcomer, I think I told you that you'll need to start with low pricing and high work levels to build up your portfolio -- it's still true. The majority of functionality in a website is not determined by a photoshop template but by the code. For example, fixed-width tables do not scale appropriately on small monitors or phones -- that's where CSS comes in. As a relatively-inexperienced graphics-only guy you are way out of your league right now.
 

Blackhood

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^ Truth.

Its sad to say, but if you're graphics oriented then you're better off freelancing as a designer for a company who already makes websites. Otherwise you're gonna be climbing new mountains of trouble every day.
 

Khayembii Communique

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Yeah I've changed my general idea to more suit my current skills. I'd definitely ideally just want to be involved in Photoshop mockups (and going more into graphic design) eventually, but for now I really would be doing everything myself. I'm just looking for some more information regarding specifically how the design/development process goes, wrt front end design and setting up a CMS. I mean for most sites I know you're going to be designing it so they wouldn't require your services to update it, which means some kind of dynamic interface or CMS. So is the entire start-to-finish process basically: - Get information from client, work through pricing, blah blah blah - Set up a mockup or a few possible mockups in any kind of design program (Photoshop being one example) - Consult with client on which mockup to choose, what tweaks to make, etc... - Design a Wordpress style (just picked a random CMS) and set it up with the CMS - Present product, go through any minor details, finish it and get paid Or am I missing something here? I hear a lot of designers use Dreamweaver but I don't know how you could design a product in Dreamweaver and manage to hook it up with a CMS...
Originally Posted by deadly7
You will have no margins if you don't do all the work yourself, unless you want to risk your professional name by hiring an inexperienced web developer. Taking on a freelance programmer is only feasible if you are a big name in website graphics/templating. As a newcomer, I think I told you that you'll need to start with low pricing and high work levels to build up your portfolio -- it's still true.
I'm actually thinking of just designing either mockups or fully functional sites for local businesses and then offer to either sell them cheap to the businesses or provide them for free. Worst case scenario I get a ton of practice, best case I get something to add to a portfolio and maybe even some money.
The majority of functionality in a website is not determined by a photoshop template but by the code. For example, fixed-width tables do not scale appropriately on small monitors or phones -- that's where CSS comes in. As a relatively-inexperienced graphics-only guy you are way out of your league right now.
I'm experienced with HTML, CSS, Javascript, some PHP and a little Flash/Java apps as well. I've used Dreamweaver and Frontpage to design websites in the past, and have also worked with setting up sites around CMS's (including modifying them and creating styles). BTW if I was working a part time job - say $10/hr 20 hrs a week - I'd need about $200/month in freelance work to hit my minimum goal. If I'm talking about hitting that by August, do you think that's realistic?
 

level32

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Landing one website creation should be more than your $200 a month. If you're working with a CMS and are decent with it, I doubt it would take you more than a week or two.

It all depends on what you mean by "experienced with ...". If you truly are experienced with those things, editing the CMS should be easy, especially if you're working from someone else's template.
 

deadly7

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Originally Posted by JLay87
Yeah I've changed my general idea to more suit my current skills. I'd definitely ideally just want to be involved in Photoshop mockups (and going more into graphic design) eventually, but for now I really would be doing everything myself.
Good. At least you're aware of what you need to do!

I'm just looking for some more information regarding specifically how the design/development process goes, wrt front end design and setting up a CMS. I mean for most sites I know you're going to be designing it so they wouldn't require your services to update it, which means some kind of dynamic interface or CMS. So is the entire start-to-finish process basically:

- Get information from client, work through pricing, blah blah blah
- Set up a mockup or a few possible mockups in any kind of design program (Photoshop being one example)
- Consult with client on which mockup to choose, what tweaks to make, etc...
- Design a Wordpress style (just picked a random CMS) and set it up with the CMS
- Present product, go through any minor details, finish it and get paid
Well, it will obviously vary from client-to-client. Unfortunately the industry has shifted to have more the following type of process:
-Notice client's posting for wanting a website / get contacted asking for a design
-Make a mock template, can be pseudofunctional or nonfunctional depending on what the request is
-Hear back from company
-Sit down and actually make the website.. it really depends on what they want it for at this point. I've used Perl web modules (Mason!), simple HTML/CSS, MySQL connectivity... etc. This is what you'd have to figure out with the client.
-Rush like crazy to finish before deadline
-Client now wants a new feature. Repeat.

Or am I missing something here? I hear a lot of designers use Dreamweaver but I don't know how you could design a product in Dreamweaver and manage to hook it up with a CMS...
For the love of god don't use dreamweaver.

I'm actually thinking of just designing either mockups or fully functional sites for local businesses and then offer to either sell them cheap to the businesses or provide them for free. Worst case scenario I get a ton of practice, best case I get something to add to a portfolio and maybe even some money.

I'm experienced with HTML, CSS, Javascript, some PHP and a little Flash/Java apps as well. I've used Dreamweaver and Frontpage to design websites in the past, and have also worked with setting up sites around CMS's (including modifying them and creating styles).
This is a good strategy if you know the businessowners or have interacted with them before. Rather than spend lots of time making demos for no reason though, here is the approach I've advised in the past:
-Look around at the website
-Take a few notes on things that are outdated/poor/you can do better
-If you know the owner / a high-level manager at the local firm, approach him or her. Otherwise try to contact the owner directly
-Let him/her know what you've discovered. Find out if he's interested in hiring you to make a new website
-If he says yes, see the above flow diagram. If he says no, thank him for his time and ask him if he knows of anybody [personal or professional] that is looking for a website. Leave him your contact information, perhaps in card form.

BTW if I was working a part time job - say $10/hr 20 hrs a week - I'd need about $200/month in freelance work to hit my minimum goal. If I'm talking about hitting that by August, do you think that's realistic?
It really depends on a lot of luck, unfortunately. Most people that want a website will just go to a cheapo auction website and hire some kid from India for $5 a day. The industry is extremely saturated. If you know people that have a need, you may fare well. If you can find local people that have a need, you may fare well. Otherwise, you'll have to invest a huge amount of time in finding online clients.
 

Khayembii Communique

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Originally Posted by level32
Landing one website creation should be more than your $200 a month. If you're working with a CMS and are decent with it, I doubt it would take you more than a week or two.
Well I mean still I'm sort of confused on how the whole design process works with a CMS because it just seems way too easy and a cop out to offer to design a client's website and then just like create a new Wordpress/Drupal style and that's pretty much it.
It all depends on what you mean by "experienced with ...". If you truly are experienced with those things, editing the CMS should be easy, especially if you're working from someone else's template.
In terms of my experience with CMS's I have experience doing minor functional/style modifications to CMS's, sometimes involving minor PHP coding. I'm guessing the best way to go about it is to get really proficient in PHP coding and stick to one CMS for your projects so you're most familiar with it?
Originally Posted by deadly7
For the love of god don't use dreamweaver.
Yeah, like I said, I don't even know how that's possible unless you're doing a really rudimentary site.
This is a good strategy if you know the businessowners or have interacted with them before. Rather than spend lots of time making demos for no reason though, here is the approach I've advised in the past: -Look around at the website -Take a few notes on things that are outdated/poor/you can do better -If you know the owner / a high-level manager at the local firm, approach him or her. Otherwise try to contact the owner directly -Let him/her know what you've discovered. Find out if he's interested in hiring you to make a new website -If he says yes, see the above flow diagram. If he says no, thank him for his time and ask him if he knows of anybody [personal or professional] that is looking for a website. Leave him your contact information, perhaps in card form.
The reason for starting out like that would simply be because I haven't done any design work in a while, and I don't even know if I'm knowledgeable or experienced enough to get it done, so it'd be a way to get practice without the obligation of having to complete something. My biggest fear is to take on a project that I can't reasonably complete in the required time (or at all).
It really depends on a lot of luck, unfortunately. Most people that want a website will just go to a cheapo auction website and hire some kid from India for $5 a day. The industry is extremely saturated. If you know people that have a need, you may fare well. If you can find local people that have a need, you may fare well. Otherwise, you'll have to invest a huge amount of time in finding online clients.
In terms of the final product I know that some kid in India could do the same thing for a pittance, and that where I would stand out would be my customer service skills, my reliability, my ability to meet and exceed deadlines/expectations and my communication skills. The weird thing is that I posted about this on another forum and got completely chewed out saying that I'm being completely and absolutely unrealistic with my expectations. It's weird to be hearing that it wouldn't be unreasonable at all to be making that much by August.
Sit down and actually make the website.. it really depends on what they want it for at this point. I've used Perl web modules (Mason!), simple HTML/CSS, MySQL connectivity... etc. This is what you'd have to figure out with the client.
Well I have absolutely no experience with SQL, SEO, site security, Perl or anything like that. I've basically listed out what I'm experienced with in my earlier post. What skills do you think I should be proficient in by the time I start doing this work, and also do you know of any resources that'd help me develop those skills?
 

level32

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Don't want to sound harsh but what it sounds like is you are trying to offer a full fledged service without all the skills required.

If you have the drive, you can do it.

Pick up a book (either online or from your library) and get your ass proficient with PHP/CSS.
Make sites from scratch. It's the only way you'll really learn and have the ability to deal with different clients' wishes. Don't expect everything to be in some module for you to copy and paste.

While you're doing that, start looking for nonprofits that need help with their website. It's a good way to 1. Do something for a good cause 2. Build your portfolio 3. Apply what you've been studying/practicing.

If you end up becoming pretty good and have a decent portfolio, I really don't think that $200 would be that hard.
 

Khayembii Communique

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Don't want to sound harsh but what it sounds like is you are trying to offer a full fledged service without all the skills required.
Yeah this is what I was wondering. I'll need to brush up on my PHP and mess around with some CMS's for the next month or two before actually picking up any real jobs.

If you end up becoming pretty good and have a decent portfolio, I really don't think that $200 would be that hard.
Thanks, that's really encouraging. Are you doing web design right now or something?
 

Khayembii Communique

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Idk what to think because I've talked to a few designers who say that I'd have to go to school and get a job at a design firm and that freelance work like what I'm talking about doing doesn't really exist anymore and blah blah blah basically saying it's impossible.

Then others are saying it's not unreasonable, as you guys are saying. I don't really know what to believe at this point...
 

level32

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I'm not in web design though have done some couresework on it as I was an Information Systems major. I also run a nonprofit that uses php (among many other technologies) to build webtools to help nonprofits in the area improve efficiency and cut costs.

I'd take the advice of the designers around you if they're pretty much playing in the same space as you. However, I feel like if you were in DC, there would be enough work to satisfy your $200 mark. You do have to pound the pavement and have a good understanding what kind of people/businesses to target.

Personally I'd say going to school->design firm is overkill for what I perceive to be your intentions. This should be one of the easier things to self-teach. In my mind, the best thing you can do is have a decent portfolio and to actively seek out local small businesses and nonprofits.
 

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