Friday, 14 February 2014



#WebDesign #eCommerce #SmallBusiness

Good evening, Good Friends! How are you? I sure hope that you are well and that the weather isn’t getting you down! Keep well and stay safe!

Y’know... Last week I bumped into a photographer “business” woman (in my local supermarket) who makes claims to being connected in all things design and media despite running her photography business from a very small pokey office. Anyhoo! We got chatting – the usual catching up with each other thing... And before I knew it we were having a heated discussion about web design. Her stance, “In order to have a successful online business one has to employ the services of a professional web designer...” My stance is the total opposite!

So, if you have any desire or are planning to launch a website for the purpose of doing online business and / or looking to create an online presence for your business... Read on!


Yes, for those reading my articles for the first time, you should know that I used to be a professional graphic and web designer.

Like most burgeoning graphic and web designers back in 1997, I cut my professional teeth using Adobe Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver in its day was quite revolutionary and I think it singlehandedly created a job industry in itself. Back then one could get away with knowing how to put a professional looking site together in Dreamweaver as a web designer looking for work.

Those halcyon days when there was a distinct division of labour in the design office:

1. Graphic Designers. There was a graphics design unit that consisted of 4 to 5 graphic artists of varying styles. These people wouldn’t touch web design in any form. And some of them were darned good at using Adobe Flash! The main software was Photoshop and Illustrator.

2. Graphic & Web Designers. Then you had a couple of people using Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop that could pull off small site designs.

3. Coders. These guys (mainly guys where I was working) were responsible for adding complex coding in CGI, MySQL, Java and later on PHP, etc. Of course, these coders knew how to create a site by hand-coding!

I was in category 2; I concentrated on Dreamweaver and Photoshop. What usually would happen is that the graphics and web designers would give their work to be corrected / enhanced with code! Dreamweaver, as good as it was, didn’t put out strict HTML and that had to be corrected.

Further down the line around 1999, this division of labour grew into a task for two individuals: And all round graphic and web designer familiar with codes (CGI, Java, MySQL, PHP, CSS) and a strong coder!

When I returned to London, UK, my skills were out of date and to bring them up to date would have cost me dearly! So, I went back into music and consumer technology journalism! After a while I got fed up working for magazines as I felt the writing and outlook were geared towards the highest paying advertisers. It’s not what I became a journalist for! I want to write honest reviews and have my own opinions! The best way for me to do what was to get my own webspace and build a site!

I started a few online magazines way back in 2000 and I used Dreamweaver to create my sites.

Today the web design market is totally different from what it was when I was a graphic web designer. Sure, the demands of the job are still the same: one man or woman does all: Photoshop, HTML5, CSS, Java, PHP, etc! If you have a determination to teach yourself coding – assuming that you are not in school or higher education studying media / web design – you’ll be pleased to know there are many, many resources online that offer great tutorials!

Dreamweaver is still the preferred WYSIWYG program to sketch out ideas quickly, but you have to be able to use its code interface to be able to write correct code.

The above describes what is required of you to land yourself employment as a web designer!

Alternatives to Adobe software has come a long, long way to the point whereby non-technical and non-professionals can create professional looking websites.

The top two web design software are:

Xara Magix Web Designer; now version 9. I would recommend the premium version as it gives you more scope! The premium version will set you back a mere £89.99!

Serif WebPlus; version 7 has recently been released and I am going to bring you a review very soon! But if it is anything like the previous version you can be confident that you will be able to create professional looking sites with ease! Also £89.99!

Both programs are superb! The chances are that you do not own a profitable business (at the moment) to hire a professional to create a web presence. Such a professional web designer can charge anything from £80 a page to over £1k for a full site including links to databases and so on!

My argument is that you don’t need to start an online business with a costly professionally designed site in the first instance. By using any of the two programs above you will be able to start your online business! Why? Glad you asked...

Most web design programs come with a great range of templates that can be customized to your liking! It shouldn’t be difficult – if you are an absolute beginner – to alter the templates! These programs come with excellent easy to follow tutorials to get the most out of the software!

I would recommend that you do all you can to alter the templates to make them your own; don’t be lazy because it will show! Once in a while I come across websites that haven’t deviated from the templates and it looks bad! I would recommend that you start learning to use the software by creating a learning project site rather than trying to build your site straightaway! Building your site straight from the off can be frustrating when you’re learning! And do YouTube tutorials on whichever software you choose!

And by all means, try building a site without using templates! You will see how easy it is!

Here’s a list of ingredients that you will need to build your very own websites without any coding knowledge!

1. A WYSIWYG package as mentioned above.

2. An image editor and / or a drawing package. You will almost certainly need to add your own images / photos. You will need to understand measurements in pixels. You will also need to become familiar with web graphic formats: JPEG, GIF and PNG.

I recommend Serif PhotoPlus and DrawPlus X6! These are both excellent photo editing and illustration programs that are a very, very cost effective alternative to Photoshop and Illustrator. They are very easy to learn too!

3. For eCommerce you will need an online payment processor such as PayPal. It’s easy to sign up to such an account!

4. Patience! It’ll take you a bit of time to get used to learning new skills but it really is not beyond you! Everyone has to start from the beginning and the trick is to start and avoid talking yourself out of what could be a great adventure!




In part two, I will show you that you that it is possible to build your site using free online facilities!

Oh, the woman I was having the heated discussion with walked off in a huff! I assume we're no longer on speaking terms! Hahahaha! Oh, well! 

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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