TRAINING – SPIN YOUR OWN WEB BY DESIGN

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YOU do not have to be a celebrity like Geri Halliwell or Britney Spears to have your own website: these days, it seems, almost everyone has one. Websites have become the modern-day calling card, not to mention the ultimate shop window, and it is not surprising that web designers are in huge demand. The good news is that you can learn how to do it yourself.

The plan may be to market your talents as a freelance web designer, or to maintain and upgrade your company’s website. Standards are very high, and once you have covered the basics, web design is an area that demands constant upskilling.

“One of the biggest problems with web design is that it is constantly changing,” says Julie Hatton, a Birmingham-based freelance web design trainer. “Programs are being upgraded all the time, and if you don’t stay on top of the changes your skills will soon be outdated.”

Julie teaches web design to private individuals and companies. Complete beginners start with a two-day introduction to web design,
BY ALISON COLEMAN
followed by two days of more advanced training a month or so later.

Training covers the main components of web design, including HTML and JavaScript coding, as well as the use of web design software such as Dreamweaver and Fireworks.
“People tend to have rather high expectations of what can be achieved in a couple of days,” says Julie. “But they soon realise there is more to it than the basics, and as they progress some find it quite in- tensive and, at times, difficult.”

Online learning is increasingly popular with full-timers or people who prefer to work at their own pace.
Lincolnshire-based Office Associates offers web-related courses from introductory level to advanced via an instructor, or interactive computer-based training via the Internet and CD-Rom.

“There are so many different ways of creating and enhancing a website,” says trainer Margaret Sergeant. “You can learn standard HTML code to create a basic web page and then learn to use Flash which involves more programming skills.”

Bristol-based WeTrain4U provides around 2,000 web-based training courses. Its Technical Web Development group has 69 different courses.
“This has proved very popular,” says managing director Tim Totty. “It is ideal for young people just starting their careers, experienced web masters who want to keep up and improve their skills and those who just want to build their own website.”

One of the problems for those planning a career in web design has been a lack of recognised qualifications.
Tim adds: “There are some qualifications available from Certified Internet Webmaster (www.cicertified.com), but generally the software is evolving so quickly it is difficult to keep pace. What some people can do is put a portfolio of their web designs on to a CD-Rom, which they can present to prospective employers to demonstrate their skill level.”

A Government initiative is helping with the cost of training – the Individual Learning Account (ILA) scheme provides up to GBP 150 for each learner over 19 and resident in the UK. Some colleges and universities offer training courses aimed specifically at helping small businesses that are lacking in key IT and web skills.
Liverpool-based Connect, which is run by the University of Liverpool, offers one and two-day courses in web design and marketing. These are free to local businesses but are also available to the general public for a fee.

Connect’s Sue Roberts says: “Without Internet and web development skills small firms can quickly find themselves being left behind in the market place.
“We are addressing that problem and enabling individuals, some of whom have never touched a website before, to manage and upgrade their company’s website.” INFORMATION: Learndirect has information on web design and related courses: 0800 100 900/www.learndirect.co.uk; University of Liverpool Connect: www.connect.org.uk; WeTrain4U: 01275 794 493/www.wetrain4u.co.uk; Office Associates: 01507 313501/ www.trainingwarehouse.co.uk; also visit Training Pages: www.trainingpages.co.uk.