I'm not sure exactly where to put this; whether it should be its own topic, placed in the FAQ thread, or broken up into several topics because it's too broad. So, please excuse me if I screwed up out of the gate.
Like the thread title says, I suck at web design. I'm a fairly decent back end coder. I rock PHP, am decent with C#, and am now learning Ruby to do some RoR action. But when it comes time to turn my sweet, sweet code into something visually appealing I just can't
. I mean, I get the absolute basics - header, nav, content, footer - but I can't seem to combine them into Voltron. Some examples:http://www.thesewingdivaquiltshop.com
- WIP for a client. The gaping hole to the right will contain an image, and the background pattern was originally selected by the client, but will be swapped out. The woman logo looks like a mishmash of clip art to me, but was created by the original developer and the client wanted to keep it. There's not much content to build around, as the client doesn't want to turn it into an e-commerce site at the moment.
All that said, it looks fairly craptacular to me, but I couldn't say why. I think the typography is off, but aside from knowing the difference between serif and sans-serif, I don't know what I'm looking at. It also looks smushed vertically, to me, but I don't know how to fix it.
I have two other variations, which I showed the client, but she rejected:http://www.mpphp.com/sewing diva layout 2.jpghttp://www.mpphp.com/sewing diva layout 3.jpg
Another example is my own website. Ignore the content - I did a quick hack job on what I wrote as I was under a time limit to get free hosting. I need to go back and rewrite it so it doesn't sound stupid. Kinda embarrassing on the whole, but here it is:http://www.majorproductionsnh.com
Again, I'm not sure how to improve it.
My Photoshop skills are probably at a beginner's level. I make layers, use guides, measure things in pixels, etc. Blending and effects are a weakness, especially since I often have trouble figuring out how to transfer/translate it into HTML and CSS. And, of course, not knowing what the different blending options - like multiply, darken, etc. - do
. Masks are voodoo to me.
Then, there's just basic design ignorance. I keep reading how typography is vitally important, but nothing explaining good typography from bad. I have problems deciding on what size things (fonts, images, page elements) should be. I don't know much about color combinations.
All of the resources I've found - Smashing Magazine, A List Apart, etc. - presume some base level competency/knowledge of Photoshop or design. I don't really have any. I'm eager (desperate, even) to learn, but I don't know where to start. Please help.