I’ve been busy with all kinds of things. One of those things includes a redesign of my site for Ocala Web Designer. It’s not that I didn’t like the last design, it’s just that it wasn’t clean enough to be a site promoting web design.

The new site is sleek, streamlined, and might purty…sorry, couldn’t help throwing that in there. Unfortunately, I didn’t make an IE6 version, though I probably will. It will probably just have a pop up informing the user to upgrade their browser and that the site wont look pretty until they do.

Screen shot below, enjoy:

Ocala Web Designer thumbnailNo where, really, I have just been busy. I have been creating a new brand for myself: Ocala Web Designer. You like?

I figured that JessePearson.net didn’t really say, “I build websites!” so, I decided to get another domain name and create a new site. I wanted something dark and grungy, yet clean and slick. Since I am my biggest critic, I can say that I am not 100% happy with it, I just feel like there is something off about it and can’t quite put my finger on it. It is fine, though, I am sure I will do a re-design in my downtime.

I am hoping to go live today, I just need to finish up the content on a couple of the pages and maybe do a little more tweaking and it will be complete.

To School or Not to SchoolCame across this article: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/to-school-or-not-to-school/

The author talks about the pros and cons of going to school for design. The pros are basically that you get a degree that says you know what you are doing, however, the cons outweigh that. No matter what, you have to constantly self-educate yourself while in and out of school. The design field changes constantly, there are new tricks, software updates and techniques released nearly daily. Colleges are not able to keep their classes up to date with this constant change.

He stated his friend, an Art Director for a firm, only looks at an applicants portfolio when hiring, not their schooling. This makes complete sense. I can tell you I went to a technical college and learned to work on cars, but you wouldn’t believe me if I couldn’t tell you the type of engine, oil and gas were in my car, right?

I believe this just fortifies my decision to self-educate. With unlimited resources online and plenty of books available, as well, I think I will be just fine.

7 Reasons Why I Choose Fireworks Over PhotoshopI just read an article about how a web designer uses Fireworks for his main design tool rather than Photoshop, the title alone is what drew me in, “7 Reasons Why I Choose Fireworks Over Photoshop.” The article can be found here: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/08/7-reasons-why-i-choose-fireworks-over-photoshop/

In summary, he states that there is better pixel and gradient control, you’re able to control created objects used in multiple instances from one location (edit one, they all change), it’s easier to learn, has better vector and web output, and last of all…it’s cheaper. I think some of it is a matter of opinion, and the rest is true. From what I see, the gradient control is pretty nice, and the ability to update created objects or symbols all at once is equally as nice. The price tag would be something that would attract anyone that is needing a editor, but doesn’t have the coin to hand out at the moment.

Personally, some of the tools in Fireworks just never clicked in my head, but I think that may be due to the first big editor I ever used was Paint Shop Pro. Years ago, PSP was the generic version of Photoshop, so it was easy to step from one to the next and grasp it fairly easily. Fw just works on a different level, like the Macromedia tools did before Adobe took over, with different tools, looks and user interfaces.

I have a friend who swears by Fw, and will even create designs and send them to me in native .png formats, which I then have to convert to .psd to work on. To calm his banter, I’ve tried to use it several times, but felt I was getting no where. It was like trying to screw two boards together with a hammer, sure I could probably get the job done, but it wouldn’t be as fast, nor would it be the quality it should be.

With all of that said, I think I will stick to Photoshop as my main design tool…but, if I ever get the time, I will look into playing around in Fireworks to see what I can pull out of my hat.

It has been running through my head that I should go to college, and it has also been recommended to me by a few people.

Today it ran through my head that I should take a run up to the local college that offers web design and talk to someone there about going to school. I skimmed through the courses, and then through some of the financial aid information. They talked about some of their scholarships and how one can get up to $10,000 a year. That got me thinking, exactly how much does it cost to go to this school, and exactly how much is it going to help?

I talked to my friend, who is currently going to a major design school in south Florida, and she told me it’s not all about the education, it’s also about building your portfolio.

Now, if you are reading this, you know I am pretty decent with my design skills. I may not be the head of a large or famous design firm, but I do have my share of skills and knowledge. None of that was school taught, either, there are fifteen or so books on my bookshelf that are textbooks to me, with myself being the teacher. So, why exactly would I pay thousands of dollars to educate myself on certain topics, when I can just spend a few hundred dollars on some more books that can provide me with the same education? I use the term, “same,” loosely, too. It may be the same topics, but I think I can get a better grasp, and probably deeper understanding of certain things from dedicated books and the internet.

Then, it would just be my portfolio. That is in the works as I type, one site is nearing completion with a few others in the brainstorming stage. With that, I believe I may just be set to at least begin freelancing, because landing a design job here in Ocala will take some time.