One of the great things about the web design and developer community is that a lot of the experts love to share their knowledge and opinions. I’ve learn a ton from sites like gotoandlearn and CSS-Tricks. I’ve spent a lot of time on sites like that, learning the things that they were awesome enough to share. A lot of the sites I follow will also post their opinion about everything web, like the Apple vs Adobe fight over Flash or what CMS to use. But something that took me a while to learn was that, although a lot of people knew a lot more than me and what they did worked for them, it wasn’t always the right thing for me. Here’s a few example:
PHP is a horrible language and you shouldn’t use it
A lot of web developers out there use PHP but most of the guys whose blogs I follow are always going on and on about Ruby and Python. So, being a newbie, I started looking into both because that’s what the guys I respected said I should do. Ruby and Python are both powerful programming languages and, for those that care, the syntax is amazing. But here’s the thing, unless you’re building something like Twitter, then PHP is probably good enough. Most of the time, if you’re working for a smaller company, like me, or if you’re a freelancer, you’re not going to be working on huge sites with hundreds of databases. Most of the sites I make just need to display a few things that are in one or two databases and PHP is perfect for this. Plus, PHP has a huge community and it’s 100% open-source, any problem I’ve had was quickly solved with a search on Google. I’m not saying it’s the best language, I’m just saying for most of the stuff people do, it’s usually good enough to get the job done and get it done quickly.
The editor you use to write your code matters
For some developers it’s a mark of pride which code editor they use, for Flash especially. Lots of guys use FDT or Flex/Flash Builder and look down on people that use Flash Professional. The same goes for writing HTML/CSS, if you’re on a Mac you use Coda or Textmate, on PC you have tons of options and each one has it’s own benefit. But in the end, it really all comes down to what program you’re comfortable with. I learned to use Dreamweaver in school and that’s what I still use now. I don’t think I’ve ever used the design view but I used it for two years and school and got used to the code completion. I’m trying to move to Notepad++ but the comfort level isn’t there yet. Use the editor you like, I know guys that like to code in Notepad.
You should use a CSS framework
CSS frameworks have become really popular lately and their are people out there that use them for every site. I have to say, I’ve never used one. I tried once but the time it took me to figure out what was going on, I could have built the site from scratch. If you’re comfortable using a framework, go ahead, but don’t feel you have to use one. The main mistake I think most people make is trying to force a design into a framework.