Training > > ITsilver training courses have many objectives. These are the most important:
- To produce web site designers whose work far exceeds the industry standard
- To develop companies' in-house capability in business critical web technologies
- To enhance companies' strategic independence and profitability by adhering to official website design standards
Any moderately talented clerical worker should be capable of commercial quality web pages after attending a basic website design training course. Which is why we are surprised that so many companies still outsource web site design to excruciatingly expensive PR agencies who often know less about the technology than averagely web savvy clerical workers.
Contrary to popular opinion, the ‘secrets’ of good web site design aren't difficult to learn, are easy to apply, and are not remotely secret. The principles are all well documented in publicly available international standards. Our website design training courses teach students those standards and how to use them.
In most cases, expensive website design software and ‘application servers’ are quite unnecessary. All of the tools required, and especially the most productive tools, are freely available as open source software packages.
Exceed Industry Best Practice in Website Design
Sadly, exceeding industry best practice is far easier than it ought to be. Typical web site design and development is quite simply appalling. The principal reason for this state of affairs is that the vast majority of website designers learn bad practice from the start and compound their errors as they develop and swap experience with their peers, i.e., they are never taught, nor do they ever learn, the fundamental standards, technologies and methodologies which make the worldwide web function properly. As a general rule, such developers achieve visual style and animated novelty at the expense of basic functionality, usability and visibility … their sites win media awards for the designer but attract little cash or interest from website users.
ITsilver Fundamentals Right and Everything Else Follows
ITsilver training courses enable complete beginners to avoid this situation by learning good practice from the start and enable experienced web professionals to find a better way of working. Of course, experienced website designers will require an enquiring mind and a degree of courage to overcome their dependence on unproductive and standards-breaking kludges.There is no Substitute for Human Intelligence and Strong Technical Foundations
The generally poor standard of web site design is hardly surprising, given the billions of dollars software vendors spend persuading website developers that buying website design packages avoids the need to learn anything about the underlying technologies. They claim to build such learning into their software, but rarely mention that this software typically bends industry standards to breaking point. Nor do they mention that website content written in tools like FrontPage and Dreamweaver, for deployment on proprietary application servers like Cold Fusion, can barely be used with other companies’ products.
It is true that many client applications can be used without much technical knowledge. Using a web browser is, for example, a bit like driving a car, i.e. largely a question of knowing how to activate its controls.
Writing and publishing websites is, however, quite different. You cannot ensure that web servers or browsers will present your web site in the way you intend it to be viewed, without knowing a great deal about the underlying technology. To extend the motoring analogue: you wouldn't expect every car driver to understand engines, but you would rightly expect every engine designer to do so. Moreover, you would also expect the engine designer to understand and adhere to relevant international standards, e.g., units of measurement in components, emission levels, etc.
Standards Based Web Site Design is Good Website Design
Web site design without a basic understanding of, and adherence to, key internet standards is almost always bad website design. Standards, defined in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Requests for Comments (RFCs) and in World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Specifications are what make it possible to exchange information between every web-enabled computer on the internet.
Standards Based Web Development Works for Users and Web Designers
The fact that these standards enable free communication between any computer, any user, and any web application, benefits both consumers and web site designers, by allowing their software to work with everyone else's. A web site design which adheres to long-established standards should work with any browser and can produce roughly the same experience in any browser.
Standards Based Web Design Reduces Cost and Increases Quality
Compliance with website design standards also drives down prices by commodifying software, i.e. if software houses implement internet standards properly their products become fundamentally similar, interchangeable and competitive. Real competition forces producers to compete on price and quality, reducing the former and raising the latter.
Software Vendors Subvert Standards that Threaten their Margins
This is not good for software company profit margins, which is why a lot of proprietary web design and web development software breaks the spirit, and often the letter, of Internet standards. Many software vendors ‘re-interpret’ the standards or find loopholes in specifications, enabling them to produce applications which only fully interact with other products in their own company's range … but which they can still claim to be standards-compliant.
Microsoft ruthlessly exploits such tactics by ensuring, for example, that a website design using MS FrontPage, Active Server Pages (ASP) and the IIS web server only works well with other Microsoft products like IE (Internet Explorer) and Windows. This creates a Microsoft-only pseudo-standard. Poor quality web developers who write exclusively to this pseudo-standard handicap their own sites and prevent more talented competitors from raising the general quality of website design.
Even very pro-Microsoft web designers will admit that Internet Explorer’s (IE) failure to implement the 1998 Cascading Stylesheet standard (CSS2) is now the major obstacle preventing the development of more usable and feature-rich web sites.
Unfortunately, since Microsoft have little to gain and much to lose by fully supporting CSS2 in IE, website usability is unlikely to improve in the short term. Only two things offer any prospect of longer term improvement: widespread consumer support for standards-compliant browsers like Mozilla, or direct government intervention.
We should, however, emphasise that monopolistic constraint is not an exclusively Microsoft trait. Most large software companies use similar tactics, but only a few have Microsoft's muscle.
Who Needs a Website Design Course?
If you or your web site design team do not have a basic understanding of the following standards, your web site should earn you more money after one of our web design courses than it did before:
- The Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML and XHTML)
- The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
- The Extended Mark-up Language (XML)
- Cascading Stylesheets (CSS1 and CSS2)
- Flash Design
This is not an exhaustive list, merely an essential minimum. There are dozens of other standards that your web site design team should know something about, e.g., email protocols like SMTP, authentication protocols like Kerberos, programming language standards, etc.
Do Your Web Site Designers Need a Course?
One crude method of assessing whether or not your web site design team needs one of our web design training courses, is to ask them the following questions:
- Do they ever hand code HTML?
- Have they ever read the specifications for any of the five web standards listed above?
If a member of your web site design team answers "No" to either of these questions, they probably lack the skills, knowledge or attitude to do their job properly and need at least one of our courses.
Everybody Should Hand Code HTML from Time to Time
If they tell you that they never need to hand code HTML, because their editing software does it for them, they have almost certainly failed to understand that software's limitations, as well as failing to understand the underlying technology. No package we know of will automatically generate all of the code you need to produce a good quality e-commerce web site without the need for intelligent human intervention.
Everyone Should Consult the Standard Specification Once in a While
If they have never consulted a specification like the one for HTML, they have have probably not thought hard enough about the design techniques they are applying. Web site design frequently allows a choice between several methods of achieving the same visual or functional effect, and web design software typically offers all of these alternatives. In almost every case, however, the HTML specification recommends only one of those approaches in a given context. Ignoring that recommendation is almost guaranteed to land your site in trouble with some user's web browser or web browser configuration.