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What would you recommend?

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Larry MeltonWhat would you recommend?
by on Nov 27, 2006 at 4:56:33 pm

Hello All:

I'm a 50-year old video guy, running my own small company for the last 20 years. I've done a pretty good job of keeping up with technology in the video world - I was an early adopter of Non-linear editing, and the first kid on my block with HDV. But when it comes to the web, I'm way behind. I've started down the path of creating a website for my company at least 10 times in the last five years, always getting sidetracked.

While I know that there are a ton of qualified, creative people and companies that I could hire to create a site, I've always felt that we should do it ourselves. For better or worse, I feel it should be a living example of our creativity and technological expertise. I also believe that the process of doing it myself will be valuable as more and more of our productions end up being distributed via the internet. Currently, we encode a lot of video for use on the web, but we're not involved in getting it there ourselves. I

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Curtis ThompsonRe: What would you recommend?
by on Nov 27, 2006 at 5:21:38 pm


[Larry Melton] "I also realize that as a web design community, many of you are probably shaking your heads the same way I do when a corporate client tells me that he's going to use his camcorder to make his own training video."

ahh you read my mind... :-)

but seriously, i guess there are a few things i'd note...

1. the difference in medium between video and web is a lot larger than you might think, and the ability to design for the web is not necessarily something that one can learn from a book. the primary difference is a change in thought process during design. the web is an interactive environment, which means your designs have to be able to allow the user to not only watch them (as with video) but also interact with them. this falls under the bigger category of usability, and it is a very tricky thing. in terms of teaching this, it's something that i don't really believe can be learned from reading. you can certainly get a lot of information on web usability from a few minutes of browsing (, but it ultimately takes a lot of practice and thought to pull it off successfully.

2. complexity of tools - if you are in the adobe world, you can consider using their newly acquired tool dreamweaver, which will help with building web pages sans knowledge of html. however, you'll run into #1 a lot if you don't have the understanding of the underlying concepts. flash is more tricky - the one thing you'll notice if you play with flash is that the animation timeline is very different from after effects, and it will take a lot of getting used to. you can use flash without programming to do basics, but anything interactive involves action script, which is a pretty robust and not especially simple concept to pick up (it's very similar to javascript, but if you don't have any programming experience, it will look very foreign to you).

so all this said (and i don't want this to be a lecture, but rather just a discussion of what's underneath the web design iceberg), what are your training options? i guess that depends on how you learn. i tend to think that a lot of computer books out there are way over-priced and it's quite the crapshoot to find one that teaches you in the way you like to learn. i almost always prefer more hands-on web learning via searching as it's typically free and you can pick and choose sites that present information in a way that you can best understand.

not to say that all books are useless, though. o'reilly generally produces a nice quality set of books, and they have everything from overall views (see "web design in a nutshell" from the first page below) to very specific books on languages and concepts in development. here's some relevant links:


and if you prefer more hands-on learning, you really can't go wrong with total training:

a bit more money, but the medium is often a much preferred learning environment for folks...

so in general, i guess i'd say that your comment about shaking your head is the most accurate summary. you can learn web design, but don't expect that you can pick up the more advanced concepts by just reading a book or watching a video. i've been doing web development and software engineering for 10+ years now, and i learn new stuff each day that expands my horizons in ways that i didn't think were possible any more. but don't let my ramble intimidate you - go for it and i hope the above resources are of use to you! :-)


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Larry MeltonRe: What would you recommend?
by on Nov 28, 2006 at 2:06:31 pm

Thanks for taking the time to provide a thoughtful response. I appreciate it. Does it help at all that I also see words backwards, Sitruc? I named my daughter Hannah because it's a palindrome. Then we adopted a little girl from Ukraine named Natasha, despite her backwards name....ah satan. Anyway, if reading words backward will help me learn Dreamweaver, then it shouldn't be too hard!



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Marco SolorioRe: What would you recommend?
by on Dec 25, 2006 at 12:24:36 am

Curtis couldn't have spelled it out any more clearly. Web production (at least, high-end, good looking and functional) web production is a completely different mind-set, tool-set, workflow-set, set-set than video production is. With video, you only have NTSC or PAL to deal with. With the web, you have a complex compatibility matrix to follow (from different browsers on different platforms on different versions) and it can be a daunting task for the new designer. Even DVD production, which is user-interactive based, kind of like the web, is still much more simplistic than web production since DVD authoring involves a strict compatibility set that works across DVD players. More often than not, the web is a crap shoot.

The two worlds are truly different, but not an impossible task if you're commited to spending quality time on it on a regular basis.

Marco Solorio  |  OneRiver Media

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dubiousmikeRe: What would you recommend?
by on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:53:08 am

I know this forum is on web design, but why not do "design" and then use a content management system to manage the content on your site? This allows to update, change and remove content through a web browser using an interface that is extremely user friendly without having to learn or use code.

A content management system can get updated to reflect code changes and new features, security and otherwise. You can often easily trim down all of the features a CMS offers so that features it contains, but is not pertinent to your goal, is hidden. You don't have to worry about browser compatibility or making your site viewable to those with disabilities. You can also easily create user accounts so that you can delegate site tasks without giving up control of the site. You can still add flash elements if need be. You can still easily embed Quicktimes or other flavors of videos. You can easily change the layout and theme of your site without having to code. You can schedule content to appear and come down ahead of time. Oh, and many excellent ones are free.

I can't tell you how many people have had me build them a site. I have struggled with not wanting to charge a lot, yet often there are ongoing and demanding requirements by them, many of which are about timely or immediate updates. A CMS is great to enable non technical people to manage web sites. I can go on for days about them, but it might be best to check some out for yourself.

My current favorite is Mambo. The preceding are open source and free. They all have active communities which can provide help via message boards. If you pay for web hosting, inquire about Cpanel with Fantastico. Fantastico will let you auto install any of the above and lots, lots more with a couple of clicks. Fantastico also provides simple click to upgrade when your CMS starts to age. And web hosting that includes Cpanel and Fantastico usually isn't any more expensive than web hosting without.

Anyway, just my 2 cents...


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