Elegant Themes Blog

Stay up to date with our most recent news and updates

Can Visual Designers Create Beautiful Websites? It’s Easier Than You Think!

Posted on April 24 by in Customer Spotlight | 21 comments

Can Visual Designers Create Beautiful Websites? It’s Easier Than You Think!

This post is part of our Customer Spotlight series. If you have an interesting story to tell and would like to share your experience with WordPress and Elegant Themes on our blog, please contact us!

Visual designers are often overwhelmed by the jargons (HTML, CSS, PHP, .htaccess, LAMP, etc.) of web development that many of them would not even think of creating their own websites, not to mention websites for their clients. Realizing the need for a website, many of them would just make use of free or paid hosted portfolio services to create their own portfolio websites. However, they are NOT satisfied with the limitations in layout and design posed by these services. I was one of them. But not more now.

A Little About the Author

image1

I was trained as an Architect by education. But my heart was with visual design. I made an important decision to work as a visual designer after university graduation. In the early days, I specialized in branding and publication design (selection of my design works). But then the World Wide Web caught up, everybody was rushing to build websites. The need for graphic design, in particular publication design, dwindled.

First Few Simple Static Websites

Being a visual designer, I did not limit myself to print design only. Website design was considered a great opportunity for development, so I tried to learn HTML and CSS on my own in order to figure out how to create a website. I would then make use of Dreamweaver or FrontPage template to build my portfolio website (and later Coroflot and Behance).

Those were the days when website design began to flourish with the introduction of tabled design. The first few websites were quite satisfactory at that time. Yet, it was very difficult and time-consuming to add contents to static websites.

Discovering WordPress

WordPress was considered only as a blogging platform in the early days. But with the help of a large community of supporters, WordPress has since become one of the most powerful content management system (CMS) that powers close to 20% of all websites. With each upgrade, WordPress just becomes better and better. I have tried Joomla and Drupal before, but decide to rely only on WordPress for most website projects.

The large selection of WordPress themes is especially important to me as a visual designer. And just like any designers, I am not satisfied with the themes as they are, I would very much want to tweak here and there. So I went on to learn PHP while working on more and more web projects.

Responsive Web Design is Future

In 2010, Ethan Marcotte coined the term responsive web design (RWD). I immediately realized that this would probably be the future of website design. Mobile visits are increasing at an exponential rate and will soon overtake desktop viewing. Dedicated mobile sites do not answer the need very well as much more resources are needed to maintain both versions. RWD seems to be a perfect fit.

After my PMP Certification exam, I created a website on helping others to study and prepare for PMP exam. I used a free responsive theme called Montezuma. I intended to make this website mobile friendly, so RWD is very important. I also want to create some sections with tailored design that can stand out from normal blog post layouts. However, I found myself coding most of the time in PHP templates instead of adding content through Posts or Pages as it was not easy to build responsive website that way.

pmp

There was no easy way to build responsive WordPress websites. Not until I found the Divi theme.

How to Create A Website in 2014

how-to-create-a-website

The WP Learner is an attempt to summarize the website learning experience I gained throughout the years. By creating this website, I aim to help beginners in web development (graphic designers in particular) to build websites for themselves and their clients. An analogy of raising a dog is used to make the process of creating a website more interesting and welcoming.

image4

The Divi WordPress theme by Elegant Themes fits my purpose perfectly. It offers a graphic interface (with the help of the Page Builder) for graphic designers to compose the layout of the page using columns, a concept pretty familiar to visual designers working on newspaper or editorial design. I do not need to worry about creating divs with the correct row and column classes. I can concentrate on the visual design again like the old days I designed publications and printed matters. I can be a visual designer again.

Though one still have to make changes here and there with the PHP or HTML code (e.g. the footer text and share links), the Divi theme has come a long way to help graphic designers to use the graphic interface they are familiar with to build a webpage or website.

I can envision a future where visual designers will be able to design and create responsive websites in the same way they use Photoshop or Illustrator to create their print design. The Divi theme is, for sure, a very good starting point.

I encourage visual designers to build your own websites now to open the infinite opportunities of a career in website design and development. My next step will be to redesign my own website (again using Divi).

Article thumbnail image by Bloom Design / shutterstock.com

21 Comments

  1. Great Job Edward.

    I really love your story and especially what you have been able to do with the Divi theme. I too started out on the visual side of things. And so I can relate to your story in many ways. And then when I saw your WP Learner site, I was stoked because I recently started working on a side project to post all the basic stuff I have learned about building and maintaining a website so that I can point clients, potential clients and anyone else interested. The graphic design on your site is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story and work!

    • Hi Geno,

      Thanks for your nice words! It’s great to know others with similar background as me. Let’s work hard together towards our dreams!

  2. Great stuff Edward, I especially like your WPLearner idea, that website looks great!

    I’m going to go ahead and follow your WP Learner project on Facebook. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for following WP Learner, Sietse. I have read your story on Memstories website here in Elegant Themes blog and I like the idea behind Memstories very much. Keep working!

  3. Pleasant review Chung. I enjoyed your passion and wit you put in to learning HTML, CSS AND PHP to customize and build a rewarding WordPress site. To be frank with you, I’m on the lane right now and the catalyst is…WordPress!

  4. Edward, the WP learner site is great. I love the concept and the design is one of the best implementations of divi I have seen. I also use divi for my website http://www.creativeclickmedia.com and a growing number of client sites. It is one of the easiest and best looking themes around. Best of luck Edward!!!

    • I can’t agree more that the DIVI theme is a great starting point to build great websites. Best of luck to you too!

  5. Love the dog-website analogy! This is something I can share with clients and prospective clients.

  6. Just perused your site and its lovely! How did you get the search up into the page, can you tip me? Thanks

  7. I enjoyed the post Edward and I couldn’t agree more.

    You are probably too young to remember computers before Windows, but in those days you had to learn DOS commands before you could do anything!!
    These days all you need is Windows.

    The same applies to the Divi theme – it allows us all to be creative with a minimal amount of coding know-how.

    I loved Divi so much that I created a dedicated site.
    I used a fair amount of custom CSS but other than that… it was all down to Divi modules and watching those awesome Divi videos.

  8. I love this article as this is what I am planning to do for my partners. Every day I keep seeing more and more reasons why I have purchased ElgantThemes.

    I started our company on the Salient theme, but Divi has taken the front row seat for me now. I will probably look more deeply into http://wplearner.org/ to see if there are any skills that I need to pick up for my company. We’ve been slowly building paperlesscreations.com for a month or so, and it’s starting to look pretty good.

    Thank you for the good read!

    • Hi Joseph,

      DIVI is likely to be the only theme that’s needed as it offers the basic framework in such a flexible way. By the way, your company website is doing great with 15 domains hosted in a month. I would look into your website too to learn something!

      • I’m going to create a DIVI playground just to see what all is possible with it.

        Thank you very much for the comment!

  9. This story is amazing! I am only a 14 year old from Australia who loves to take photos, but i never could find an outlet to share my photos to the world. wazzaphotography.com WordPress and elegant themes made it super easy to get a website. And now i have dozens of clients and have been asked to make a website for a whole camp site! Technology is so amazing these days!

  10. very helpful article :) thanks a lot Edward (^^,)

  11. Nice write up. I do think responsive is the future, but not for all sites. For example, eCommerce sites should have some elements of a mobile website for more control over what people see on a mobile device vs a desktop because of conversion factors, like call to actions, etc…

    With a blend of a mobile website and responsive is best for an eCommerce site. For example landing pages/home page where you need more control of things that you want to show in a mobile view vs a desktop view, like the CTAs I talked about above and other unique features like click to call should be a a mobile website. AND so you don’t have to duplicate product entry, merchant services, user accounts, this is where responsive comes in handy when it comes to eCommerce.

    Side note, the divi template is godly and I’m excited about divi2. :) TY ET team.

  12. This article ended with something I wish Elegant themes would build into all their themes. The ability to change the footer disclaimer from designed by elegant themes and powered by wordpress to your own custom one. The divi theme is so good, I only create a child theme to change the footer. Please add this function to the ET settings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current ye@r *

Join 253,319 Happy Customers And Get Access To Our Entire Collection Of 87 Beautiful Themes For The Price Of One

We offer a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, so joining is risk-free!

Sign Up Today

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This