So, you’ve taken my course: Creating Modern Websites from Scratch using HTML & CSS and you now have a solid understanding and foundation with HTML and CSS. First and foremost, congratulations on completing my course. If you’ve learned HTML and CSS through another route, that’s fine as well. Either way, you’ve probably been asking yourself, what’s your next step, or, where do you go from there?

The Next Step

I remember being at that exact same question some years back. With all the different opportunities out there in front of you, what should you invest your time in next that will not only take your websites to the next level, but at the same time be marketable, beneficial, bring more income to your business, and even wanted by companies looking for new employees?

Usually when a lot of new Web Designers get to this point they head over to their favorite web design group, blog, or search engine and ask the question. Most of the responses you get will say something along the lines of: “Learn Javascript & JQuery, Learn PHP, Get started with Bootstrap, No, don’t use Bootstrap, use Foundation”, etc, etc, etc….

The Truth

Now all that might seem like great advice, and it can be if you’re trying to learn more about coding. I myself followed a lot of that advice back in the day and found myself stuck in the “code zone”. What you first should ask yourself is, “Do I plan on creating my own websites?” If your answer to that question is yes, then I highly recommend you start learning about Design – The decision making process that’s involved in creating websites. The process you go through prior to writing a single line of code. The design process of web design is the why, the who, the what, and the when.

The Design Process

Don’t get me wrong, coding is important, but only once you get past the design. Let’s take a look at the design process when it comes to creating websites. This isn’t just a made up process, this is a standard practice, a process.

  1. Information Gathering
  2. Planning
  3. Design
  4. Development
  5. Testing and Delivery
  6. Maintenance

Now, I’m not going to go into the details of each step, because I cover that in another post where I talk about The 6-Step Website Design Process. You’ll notice that you’re halfway through The Design Process before you write a single line of code, which you don’t do until step 4: Development. More importantly, you don’t get to Development until your Design meets the clients approval. Design is highly marketable, and a very valuable skill alone. A lot of web designers don’t even know how to code, so when they get to step 4 in the above process, they pass their designs to coders.

Design and/or Coding

So again, ask yourself, “Do I plan on creating my own websites?” Now, before you give yourself an answer, take a look back up at the 6-Step Design Process. If you answered yes, then I would start learning the principles of design. We’re talking UX/UI, Typography, Aesthetics, etc. If you answered no, then you need to identify whether you want to focus solely on design or coding.

Final Thoughts!

Although design may seem simple enough, it’s a highly valuable skill that gets overlooked in many circumstances. Remember, design always precedes coding, and it’s what visitors will experience first, upon reaching your websites.