Thursday, 20 February 2014



#WebDesign #eCommerce #SmallBusiness #Design #Graphics #GraphicDesign

Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers! How are you tonight? I hope that all is well with you and that the weather is being kinder! It was a glorious sunny day! I hope it was a nice day for you too! Thank you for your positive responses to this series of articles on web design.

I have understood that there are many things stopping a lot of non-web design folk from getting involved in the business of designing their own websites:

1. Technical ability. Many folk believe that they must possess some technical ability. While other folk fool themselves into thinking that they will never understand the ins and outs of it.

2. Design ability or lack of it.

Okay... I am going to do my best to ease your mind...


If you can use a word processor such as Microsoft’s Word for Windows then you can definitely use any WYSIWYG web design program. Such software keeps you away from having to enter HTML code (it’s not a programming language) on a blank Notepad (the default note making program with Windows) which is then saved as an HTML file. My argument against writing all that code is, “What if you had to code a simple letter? Do you know how long that could take?” Sure, if you learn the code well enough you’d be able write it blindfolded. But that’s not the point. The point is HTML is a very simple language that, for all intents and purposes, describes the layout of a web page. That’s just HTML! Another code used within HTML is CSS – cascading style sheets. CSS goes deeper into describing the look of the web page in finer detail i.e. how fonts appear, more precise details to a web page background, colours and so on. CSS can be a pain to code!

So, this is why I will always advocate a WYSIWYG web design program.

Yes, this is an argument that a web design teacher put forward to a class that I took to refresh my skills. He continued, “How would you code your website?” My response was, “If all the computers around the world crashed then it wouldn’t matter if I knew code or not.” It’s true!

This is not to say that you shouldn’t learn some aspects of coding HTML. Again, HTML is NOT difficult but laborious. I would recommend that you take the time to learn the basics because it will allow you to place some elements into a WYSIWYG web design program that is not included as part of the program. Knowing the basics of HTML will allow you to insert your own code in such WYSIWYG programs should you need to! But DO NOT worry about that at this stage!

Now let’s talk “design”!


That word... “Design” it conjures all manner of thoughts and feelings. You are probably wondering what “design” means to me. I will tell you... But first...

Can you imagine that I thought the way forward in the business of New Media was CD ROM programming? Yes, I did! Lol! This was before I was exposed to HTML and website design. What I appreciate about the CD ROM is that you have a whole program of a particular agenda encapsulated within a CD ROM program; once you insert the CD ROM in the PC you’re sort of locked into the program until you exit! Whereas with the Internet you may feel the urge to surf other sites – that’s what I do! Anyhoo! I digress...

With no prior knowledge of Photoshop or even having owned PC I did a 13 week course in Multimedia. Previously, I was the proud owner of an Amiga A4000 computer and through some paint programs that came with the Amiga I was used to the concept of using a mouse to draw / paint (very basically) using the mouse. So, using Photoshop for the first time wasn’t a totally daunting experience that it could have been!

I knew about two weeks in advance that I was going to do the Multimedia course and I started to buy design magazines and made notes. I also started collecting CD ROMs and I paid more attention to any kind of graphical design be it advertising, magazines, TV, film, etc. You probably can tell that I lean towards a Sci-Fi-Tech design. It’s what I am drawn to! Anyway, the point I am getting at is that if you have an eye for any particular design then you can reproduce it! You will probably crawl before you can walk!

As you should know – if you have been reading this series of articles on web design – that after the 13 week course I went to Holland, Amsterdam and found work as a graphic web designer. I was good enough with Photoshop. I guess it helped that I did Art in school and college; I had a pretty good idea what I wanted and how to get there!

I think back to how websites used to look and in some way I miss those days when sites used to look very individual – even if they were bad! When I got myself Dreamweaver and bought web design magazines I became aware of a particular designer giving his opinions on what websites should look like. One of his comments made me laugh, “A lot of websites look like Sunday school flyers...” or words to that effect! Lol! But I think that designer is responsible for the corporate look on just about every site whether it is corporate or not. I hate it! I would rather see someone / organization expressing themselves through their speciality. Blow all that corporate rigidity nonsense!

Yes, there are a set of rules that you need to adhere too when it comes to your website.

1. The text on your site must be easy to read. If the recipient is straining to read the text it’s a failure.

2. It should be easy for users to navigate your site. If users struggle to get from one page to the next and back then it’s a failure.

3. Use of colour needs to be really considered. Garish colours could repulse. There again, it depends on your medium i.e. a music site may be suited to outlandish designs. You have to bear in mind what your intended audience will gravitate to.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with using templates and altering them to suit by changing the colours, graphics, etc. At the same time I would encourage you to have a go at filling in a blank page; you should have an idea of what you want because you have looked at similar sites. And you will do well to get a hold of some graphic, photo editing / manipulation software. I am going to, again, recommend two programs for their ease of use:-

Serif PhotoPlus X6 – It’s, in my opinion, better than Photoshop when you compare costs and what the software can do!

Serif DrawPlus X6 – This is a great illustration program that you can get into more or less straightaway – if you are an absolute beginner! One of the most striking things you can add to your media i.e. website, business card, etc is a logo and you will LOVE the Logo Studio!

You should do well with the aforementioned software. In fact, you can download free versions of the software and see how you get on! They all have great tutorials that you can follow! Be confident! You CAN do it!

By all means try different software! Even if you choose to go by the way of Blogger, Word Press, YouTube, Wix, etc you will need to use your own graphics to stand out!

Design is a very personal thing! You won’t know what you can do unless you have a go! It is EASY! I would say that if you can use a smartphone then you can definitely get to manipulate any software!

To be honest, I was not a very good freelance web / graphic designer because I am not very patient with people. What people think of as “good” design leaves me wondering about their sanity! I just couldn’t do what was required of me because I felt it was bad and not something that I could add to my portfolio! However, I gave up being a freelance web / graphic designer because so many people are opting to do it themselves and so should YOU!!!!

If I get the time I may do an article on design. But after the Samsung Galaxy S5 launch and the Mobile World Congress 2014 I will bring you the Serif WebPlus X7 review!

Here’s part one of this series...

Here’s part two of this series...

Take a look at these interactive PDF magazines to learn more about web and graphic design:

Stay tuned...

What do you reckon?

Take good care!

Thank you for watching and reading!

Please check out the Synapse Circuit website for video, i-PDF and more! 

Synapse Circuit Dot Com

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