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Early research into Web design training providers

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by geofftaylor, Aug 26, 2006.

  1. geofftaylor

    geofftaylor Bit Poster

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    Apologies: I posted most of this content already in my personal introductory post, but I'm thinking now that this is more the best place for it. So if that's OK I'm copying it here:

    I've been following threads on Website design training, and different training providers.

    I've been visited by sales people from NITLC and just today by SkillsTrain UK. Also had a call back from e-careers.co.uk.

    Have also been researching on job search engine sites e.g. reed.co.uk, monster.co.uk, jobserve.com. Trying to make sense of the different job titles (web designer vs developer etc).

    Initial impressions:

    1. NITLC:
    Qualification: Certified Web Designer and Developer - seems to be their own in-house qualification, can't find it in Google anywhere else, hmn... but also includes Macromedia Dreamweaver & Flash certification, which is good
    Cost: £3400 (with Barclays Career Development loan), doesn't include software/hardware, but can get Macromedia Studio on educational discount
    Course content: seems quite practical, includes developing actual viable e-commerce website, and an accompanying bound printed report, both very useful I would think for a future portfolio. Good for novice maybe, as almost the first third of the course is pretty general, and includes an introduction to the Internet and several components on MS Office applications

    2. SkillsTrain UK
    Qualification: Master CIW Website Manager - lots of hits in Google about this cert, and impressive website at http://www.ciwcertified.com/ but no mention of it in the UK job search websites I tried, which give requirements in terms of skills, not certificates. Still, seems to be a good one to go for, if you can't do a university degree course or something...
    Cost: £2750, £50 deposit, then 36 payments of £75, interest free. Includes a free Dell PC , all software including Macromedia Studio, and all exam costs. (If you fail, you can re-take once). Noticed that the exams are all version 4 on the CIW handout the salesman left me, but I noticed that Keimos on another thread warned:
    "This is really just a word of warning to anybody considering a CIW course. 1. Make sure that youare studying for the latest exam (Master CIW Designer) 510, 520, & 525" so I'll have to check with them if they've upgraded.
    Course: Seems more Web design focussed, gets right into Internet and web content, goes into more coverage of higher topics, e.g. Web languages, server admin, and site design. Maybe more theoretical though than the NITLC one, doesn't seem to emphasise practical hands-on project work. When I asked about the tutors (qualifications, etc) he was a bit hazier on specifics, except that they would have been in the relevant industry etc.

    3. e-careers.co.uk
    Qualification: we talked about MCAD (Microsoft Application Developer) but they also do CIW
    Cost: £1400 (distance mode) including exam, includes lots of extra elective modules
    Course: talked to a manager, Darren, not a sales rep. He seemed really clued in, maybe because the company also does commercial web design/developing themselves, and he said the tutors are all working professionals. That sounds pretty good, as I would imagine a lot of how much you get from a course can depend on how much actual breadth of experience your teacher has to share about the practical applications of the stuff you are learning, how the industry really operates, etc.

    Anyway, hope this might be of use to someone still researching the field, like me.
     
    Certifications: BA Fine Arts, Dip TEFLA, MEd
    WIP: considering CIW
  2. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    NITLC - their certs are completely useless.

    The other two are better bets - but I'm not sure that certification for web designers is as structured as it is for network/systems/server admins.

    I know the CIW is pretty well-respected in the industry, so the second one seems legit but, to be honest, the guy trying to sell you the third package doesn't seem to understand what he's talking about (MCAD? For a Web Designer?)

    Personally I think you're wasting your money with web design certs. What exactly is it you want to do? Are you looking more into the design side of things or the admin side? The admin side of 'webmastering' (I'm inventing words as I go along here!) is intensely dull, but probably infinitely more profitable than freelance web design (which is probably all you can hope for if you're just getting into the industry).

    Obviously if you're into the design thang then you'll need a serious portfolio of your work to get commissions/contracts - there's no way on Earth a tech school will be able to teach you how to design a 'good' website - they may show you how to use WYSIWYG packages but in reality, if you're a good enough designer and are artistic enough then you can learn all you need to know by spending 150 quid on a few books and some more on a decent PC to practice on.

    It might be more worth your while going for the CIW if you're interested in the admin side - perhaps they'll teach you all you need to know on PHP, MySQL/SQL Server, Apache/IIS, FTP etc.

    Have you no chance of getting into a graphic design course at college? In the evenings maybe?

    Put short - if I were to choose it'd be the second option. The third sounds like you'd have to do a lot of the work on your own and I can't really see where your 1400 sovs would be going. The first lot are infamous in the industry - just search Google groups to see what I mean and make your own mind up about them...
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  3. geofftaylor

    geofftaylor Bit Poster

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    Thanks for your reply zebulebu

    Sorry, I see what you mean, but it was probably my mistake rather than the training provider's. Having been looking at pay scales on job search sites, I had probably decided I ought to be going more for web developer than designer, and may have talked about learning one or other programming language and things went off on a tangent.

    Thanks for taking the time to put out all this advice. I have done two or three paid freelance sites already (see my personal profile), but I'm still pretty new and inexperienced at this game, so all help is useful!

    I pretty much agree with what you're saying, and will aim to try to improve and extend my front-end design skills and try to add some key back-end skills especially perhaps adding databases (SQL), some scripting and e-commerce facilities, so that I can at least try offer a reasonably total package for potential future clients.

    I'm thinking that I'll try atleast one or two of the short focussed cheapish online mentored courses offered by e-classes.org, and maybe work towards getting one or more of their certificates. There's also an official CIW v5 Foundation self-study pack for 99.00 USD, so that could be a way to get a taster of the CIW set of exams.

    Cheers!
     
    Certifications: BA Fine Arts, Dip TEFLA, MEd
    WIP: considering CIW
  4. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    Sounds like a plan, Bing!

    Your sites look pretty good - always nice to see a decent merging of function with design.

    makes me think my own crappy site could do with an update :blink

    Good luck with whatever you decide!
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  5. geofftaylor

    geofftaylor Bit Poster

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    Thank you zebelu for you kind words about my websites!
    Sorry to be so long in responding, but I didn't see your reply before...
    Your website looks fine to me - nice and clean and functional.
     
    Certifications: BA Fine Arts, Dip TEFLA, MEd
    WIP: considering CIW
  6. DJDave

    DJDave Bit Poster

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    what????? did I miss that bit?
     
    WIP: CIW
  7. geofftaylor

    geofftaylor Bit Poster

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    I'm pretty sure the salesman/representative said it was on offer. It was there in his big book of promotional stuff. I said I already had all the hardware I'd need, and he said whatever, it was there, you could take it or leave it.
     
    Certifications: BA Fine Arts, Dip TEFLA, MEd
    WIP: considering CIW
  8. Stoney

    Stoney Megabyte Poster

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    Hey Geoff,

    Zeb's quite right about web design certs, I was considering doing the CIW myself through CompuTeach, had the sales dude come to my house and everything. But I couldn't justify spending £4500 on a course, for a certification that wasn't required on any job adverts.

    I was seriously considering web design for a long time. I went to college and did a multi-media course that used the Macromedia suite and it was pants!! I only learnt how to use the software and not any technical theory behind web design/development. This may not be the case with all courses, but make sure you know the course syllabus before you shell out any money.

    You will find it hard to get a job in web design without a very good portfolio. You may be better off starting in web development which is all the coding behind the scenes (asp.net, php, sql) as apposed to the actual design and layout. It can be quite well paid but also a bit monotonous and not very exciting. However it's a start, and like all jobs you need to start somewhere.

    You can teach yourself a good skill set for web design without spending much money. You will definitely need to be able to write code to web standards so I suggest binning the WYSIWYG web design software and studying the code. XHTML is easy, CSS is quite easy but can get complicated, you'll also need a client side scripting language like Javascript and a server side scripting language like ASP.NET or PHP. Then you just need to put your design skills into use.

    I learnt all of the above (except php) from books and web pages and it cost me about £60. I never got around to doing a portfolio of work, but I have landed an IT job where part of the role is looking after the company web site. I'm not sure if I still want to go down the web design road but it's certainly an option.

    Check out this site for inspiration and a bench mark for the standard you need to achieve to get in to the market.

    Personally (if i had the chance) I would use the money to go on a graphic design course like Zeb suggested and then teach yourself the rest at home.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Certifications: 25 + 50 metre front crawl
    WIP: MCSA - Exam 70-270
  9. geofftaylor

    geofftaylor Bit Poster

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    I'm just testing the water at the moment with eclasses.org, $80.00 for a 4-week Dreamweaver component of a Web basics course. It isn't the part I'm most interested in, but I want to check out the basics before I go for more advanced areas.
    Thank you. That is good advice. I don't know how good my portfolio is. However, I think my "front-end design" skills are already quite well developed, so first of all, I'm going to spend a bit of time to get those up to speed.
    Again excellent advice! Last week I went through the W3schools.org HTML tutorial - got 90% on their quiz - and will go on with XHTML and others, in hand-coding mode. I already use CSS, though I'm still vague about some areas. I can tweak JavaScripts, but am no way yet able to create anything in it. I have no experience of ASP or PHP or SQL.
    I'm not sure exactly where I'm headed, but I know I'm definitely a bit of a "pony-tail" and I can be a "propeller-head", and after I've got the basics sorted, I want to improve my skills in that more code-oriented area, exactly as you say - Javascript, PHP, MySQL, and so on.
    Blimey - sh*t hot templates! I'm not at that level yet...
    Thanks - I think that may well be the route I'm going. I've been doing websites for quite a while, so I think I have a bit of an eye for design and accessibility issues. It's the back-end stuff I'm still a TOTAL novice on.
    Very much! Thanks for taking the time to give such specific advice.
     
    Certifications: BA Fine Arts, Dip TEFLA, MEd
    WIP: considering CIW
  10. AJ

    AJ Administrator Administrator

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    A very BLUE site Zeb. I do have just one comment though.

    WHERE'S THE LINK TO CF :x
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCSA (messaging), ITIL Foundation v3
    WIP: Looking at doing ..................
  11. Stoney

    Stoney Megabyte Poster

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    You're welcome:wink:

    I do feel that a lot of people get suckered into courses because they're desperate to break into an industry, without first realising what other options are available. Self-study may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're prepared to put in the work then it certainly eleviates the financial burden.

    On another note - I also used the W3Schools quite a lot. The more advanced stuff (Javascript, SQL, ASP) is not as comprehensive as the html etc, but it's a good place to start.

    I would also suggest leaning table-less design which is achieved through xhtml and CSS. If you look at the Zengarden website you'll see what you can achieve with table-less layouts. Also provides more inspiration.

    And another thing. Have a look at adverts for web design/development jobs and learn the skills that the industry is demanding.

    Paul
     
    Certifications: 25 + 50 metre front crawl
    WIP: MCSA - Exam 70-270
  12. geofftaylor

    geofftaylor Bit Poster

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    Dear Paul

    I've recently completed the W3C XTML tutorial - and got 100% on their quiz! Tomorrow, I'm starting an Introduction to XHTML online mentored/self study course of 6 weeks for $80.00 at eclasses.org

    I agree absolutely, and I know and like Zen Gardens. Thanks!

    Good advice. I'm doing that.

    Thanks a lot Paul!

    Geoff Taylor
     
    Certifications: BA Fine Arts, Dip TEFLA, MEd
    WIP: considering CIW
  13. VelvetKloud

    VelvetKloud New Member

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    Thought I would join in this discussion as it is all very interesting and helpful.
    I have been wanting to learn the various aspects of web development for some time and have been spending the last few months researching my options. The design aspect is not a problem it is the various languages required that I need to learn.

    Though it's the cheaper option I have been put off the idea of self teaching purely because having a family and a full time job I feel I may find it too hard to stay focused where as if I had a course that I was following (and that I had invested good money into!) It would give me the incentive to stick with it and dedicate as much time as possible towards the work.

    I had almost made up my mind to go with NTLC on their business visions course where I would be able to do their web development bit plus anything else I could fit in within two years.
    I understand people are sceptical about their actual qualifications but it is my understanding that it is the knowledge of the languages plus the ability to be creative and understand design that counts as opposed to a qualification.
    Problem is, despite positive reports on NITLCs actual courses I have been put off by an increasingly pushy 'course advisor' and am having second thoughts about the idea.

    I would appreciate peoples comments on this, I intend to study web development regardless, if it leads to a career then that's great, if not I will be happy having gained the knowledge anyway.
    Do I look for other means? Do I attempt to gain the discipline to teach myself? Is it daft to stick my fingers up at a potentially worthwhile company purely because of an idiotic salesman?
    Vk
     

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