Sunday, May 3, 2009

Layoffs in the Ad World Force Many Back to School

I won't name names and certainly won't name agencies, but there have been many layoffs in the past year. The number of my colleagues out of work right now is rather alarming. These people are what I would have considered indispensable. Not only are many designers and writers once again freelancing, but the people that they reported to are also looking or have been forced to accept positions at a different level.

Going back to school is a step many have chosen to upgrade their skills. Print designers are confronting Dreamweaver, when InDesign was their forte in the past. Many are not ready for the rude awakening of the need to understand the basics of HTML. Many just never thought they would be put in a position to learn coding of any sort.

The Web is Your Tutor
Before you go out and spend mucho dinero on books, check out some of the resources available for free online. Try this one for a basic HTML tutorial:
This site appears to be free and also also offers a comprehensive set of tutorials to bring the avid learner
up to speed on HTML, CSS, XML and my favorite Javascript.

This is just one of many sites available, I am not accepting payment from this site, I just found them with a simple Google search using the phrase, "Learning basic HTML".

Dreamweaver is HTML and WYSIWYG Combined
When I first taught myself Dreamweaver (I am still learning), I had already taught myself HTML (I am still learning). The ability to view the visual layout and the HTML coding simultaneously was a real productivity booster.

Using some online tutorials and a Quick Start book, I was able to get enough skills to work on some projects at the agency where I worked. I actually value books because of their accessibility. Its all a matter of your personal learning style.

Set a Personal Project as a Goal
  • It is important to have a real project in mind. When you are learning a web-based skill set choose a personal project that you can manage, with all that entails. When I taught myself HTML, it was for a nonprofit client's project to be presented at a meeting, this put pressure on me at the time, but that's how I work best. No one had ever suggested a web site to any of our clients, and it caused a great deal of discussion. (1996)
  • Set aside a special time to dive into the new area you are trying to learn. Even an hour spent three times a week is good enough, I think of this approach as planting redwood seedlings.
  • Visit online forums and professional gatherings. You will be surprised at how much you can pick up from casual contact with others in the new area you are learning.
  • Use your new skills as often as possible. Try to keep up with new developments in techniques that last suggestion might prove to be a career-long effort. Don't be daunted by what I call the learning spiral.
  • Keep learning. Many things you learn today, will one day be outmoded. Sigh!

© Copyright 2009 Guy Arceneaux All rights reserved


  1. Hi, Guy, I think we designers unfortunately set up the paradigm of a one-person show when we proved to the powers that be years ago that desktop publishing could eliminate the duplicated effort in a single project. The old school approach was to separate out all the tasks and pay each team member to participate. Once we could accomplish more steps on a single job by using quark to design and produce, we eliminate the production artist and sometimes even the service bureau. This is what business owner and clients grew to expect from us. Now we are in a quandary because that's the expectation at a time where we are back to not possessing the skill sets. I think we need to pressure Adobe and others to make the software easier to integrate the two disciplines, like they were able to do with Quark and Indesign. If the complex coding languages like Ajax and PHP were available in a Dreamweaver type product, the problem of learning curve would go away.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words on our blog.We will continue our efforts.Wish you a pleasant day.


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