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Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks: Does Age Matter in Learning Web Design?

A lot of people say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,  that old people have nothing to learn and should suit themselves just watching sunsets and daisies blooming while sitting in an old wooden rocking chair at the porch of the house they bought at the countryside. Most young designers tend to think that older people have no place in web design since the field is technologically inclined in nature thus requiring a more youthful and fresh mind.

I, for one, believe that this notion is not always correct. Older people have their own places in the realm of web design. In fact, they could still learn, given the opportunity, access to information and of course, an unbreakable will. In fact, I strongly feel that they can even attract clients and make this craft their new source of income!

Learning Web Design at Age 30, 40, or 50 – Does it Matter?

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You see, the good thing about web design is that it chooses no age. Web designing, unlike other fields of employment, does not really constitute a lot of physical stress. It means that web designers need not to be physically strong to design a website. Truth is, you might not even need to move a lot to design the page. (Well, except perhaps, if your back aches at times so you have to stand up). Just an open mind and a creative brain will do.

No matter the age, learning the ropes of web design is still a good option. But how? Now that’s a different thing:

Brainstorming

The first trick to learn about web designing is thinking. Yes, to successfully design web pages, you need to picture it in your mind first. You need to know how it will look like, what colors will you use, what themes are better to go with your design concept, what icons to utilize and many others. Having a forethought on what your website looks like will help you actualize it. Remember that we can only create what we can imagine. So it might be seemingly impossible to design a website accidentally of out of nowhere. The source of all designs is, of course, the mind.

Now, you might be asking yourself, ” I’m 50 years old; how can I possibly think of new designs?! I’m old, my designs would just be retro.”

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Photo from isadoradesign.com

The answer is pretty simple. Look, observe, learn. Since designing is a facet of art, it is very difficult to teach, like the way technical and scientific fields do. As a student of design, you have to learn the theories and see their actual applications. You need to take out what is important and learn from what is not needed. This skill will surely boost how you work with your designs in the future. From now on, you should start looking at different websites. Browse the Internet correctly. Never fancy yourself in being swarmed by Facebook notifications or Twitter updates all day. Just let them be and think of how you could improve yourself. Visit websites; be inspired.

For further reading on website inspirations, you could look for :

Wireframing

The next thing you should learn is how to put those thoughts into your screen by making a wire-frame or a mock-up. A wireframe is the skeleton of the design. Wireframing enables you to properly place the elements you have thought of. This makes your designing process easier because you already know where to place them. As the design’s skeleton, the wireframe is very much needed for starting designers. There are a lot of wireframing resources on the Internet. You just need to select one and Kazam! You can now start designing.

Image by Michael Lancaster.

Here are a few wireframing links for you:

Designing

After having successfully finished your wireframe, you can now place the elements. In this step, you should remember the design you thought of and try to improve it along the way. You can start placing text boxes, images, texts and other design elements. Most web designers use this step to be able to slice the documents properly. Note that in this step, you should know the basics in color combinations, iconography, logography, typography and other design basics out there. Now this step becomes challenging because you need to use Photoshop, a very complicated software to some.

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But never fret, you can still learn by reading these:

Coding

Here is another complicated step: you need to transfer the design into code. Writing codes can be crazier than you think. But, provided the proper guidance and remembering the most important and basic codes, it won’t be as hard as it really seems. As a starting web designer, you should first acquaint yourself with HTML and CSS codes since these two are the foundations of a webpage. But as you traverse the world of web design, you will begin to learn other coding languages.

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Here are a few tutorials:

Releasing your website

So given that you already finished your first ever website, you know that this won’t be the end. Of course, after finishing it, your website should be known by the people. It should be marketed towards every place possible so that future clients might see your work. Now this becomes easy when you have your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Just post and post updates to your website. Tease them. Let them be hooked to your website and until you are successful with that, your website would just be another of those forgotten domains in the world.

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The Truth

After designing, coding and releasing your very first website, of course you will wait for clients. You might be under the impression that this comes easy, like a walk in the park. But I must warn you that this could be a pain in the arse. Worse comes worst, no one will hire you. You’ll just be frustrated that no one ever noticed your page. All those nights of thinking about design concepts, designing, coding, revamping, thinking again, designing again, coding again and on and on will seemingly be thrown away out of futility. Yeah, that is very frustrating but these are roadblocks you’re supposed to expect.

Some will not hire you because you’re old, and just started designing. That’s true. It happens all the time. Older people are stereotyped as people who have old ideas. People who can’t offer something new, who can’t learn new knowledge. It can happen, yes. But you should remain true to yourself. Never be shy when your clients ask for your age. If they turn you down, start again.

But the thing is, you never stop trying. You revamp and revamp, commit mistakes again and again, be dumped a lot of times and you learn. Never stop learning. Read tutorials, visit websites, observe! Take all the lessons of the past and be mature enough to know which to take and which to forget.

I remember a friend who just started photography. He actually studied Social Sciences. One day, his aunt gave him a DSLR camera. Not knowing what to do with this, and considering he was 34 years old, with two kids, this was not something he should learn. But then, I gave him a photography book for Christmas. He was inspired. He read, read and read, took a thousand photos, even broke one of his lenses. And after a few years, he became a good photographer. Now, he’s one of the best in our town.

The moral of the story is, anyone can learn new tricks if they let themselves learn. In technology, age is just a number. It’s how you think. Young people are open to new knowledge. That’s what makes their ideas fresh. You could do that, even if you’re sixty years old.

The thing I have learned about web design for the past years is, sometimes, you have those roadblocks, where a code seems to be malfunctioning or anything of that sort. Or a design seems to be very unachievable or when time becomes so limited. But if you’ll not look where the error in the code is, or how to work around that design and stretch time, you won’t go anywhere. So better try to fix it.

Conclusion

Web design is a very good field to venture in. Since the Internet is slowly becoming a very potent tool in propagating knowledge, it is very advantageous for a person, notwithstanding their age, color, gender or race, to learn how to build webpages. We all started from the basic. We all made ugly designs. We all committed grave errors. And as I allude from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Every great web designer in the world started from what you are now – newbies. If they can do it, why can’t you.

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