Actually it isn't so much a plan as it is four areas where I feel if I focus my energies that I will be rewarded.
This is my four-pronged attack as I like to call it.
Accessibility is a word that is often used in circles of web designers where the aim is to provide professional and standards compliant web sites that are accessible to a wider range of visitors regardless of disabilities. Being a reader of .net magazine and a frequent visitor to their excellent web forum I am seeing this as being a particular area of concern for people.
It is my hope to build web sites that, as best as possible, adhere to accessibility guidelines. I will be using this document to help me develop accessibility within my web sites and then submitting my work for review to this thread at the .net forum to see how well I have done.
2: CSS - Cascading Style Sheets
I learned how to design web sites from tutorials dating back to the glorious days of table-based layouts! These days such design conventions are frowned upon by the web development community. Tables should only be used for displaying tablature data and using them for anything else contradicts the very thing I am trying to achieve in creating accessible websites.
I have dabbled with CSS web design but have always been put off by the inconsistency of support for it across the various web browsers out there. What looks good in one might not look good in another. The thing is there are work arounds and bug-fixes for such issues and these are all well documented. So I figure if I’m going to take on this web development endeavour with any kind of seriousness then I need to take the time to learn CSS and be able to create fully cross-platform compatible websites.
3: PHP & MySQL
This one is a bit of a reach for me. Some might say that I should focus on the above 2 points before moving onto anything else and that there is enough in accessibility and CSS to keep me busy.
The thing is I have a genuine itch to develop! A number of years back I did a masters degree in computer science wherein we worked with Java. At first I found the whole concept of development to be tricky and struggled to get my head round it. By the time I had finished I felt I had reached a stage with Java where I could do practically anything with the language (within reason) that I put my mind to.
Unfortunately I graduated, discovered the real world and realised that my dream of being a developer would never happen. I ended up working in a support role, then project management and account management and only once have I had the slightest glimmer of getting involved in development work. At one stage I was promised that I would be given development work to do but got told a number of months later that this wouldn't happen. Much to the surprise of me and the lead developer, who was fighting in my corner.
So I've dabbled in a bit of java in my free time and looked at C# but ultimately there's not much you can do with these if it's a hobby! This is why I have a soft spot for PHP and MySQL as these are development tools that I can put to practical use. As a matter of fact I’ve just completed my first database driven content management system which, despite its simplistic nature, has worked in every way I had imagined.
****So that’s it really. I’m hoping that by focusing on these areas and approaching them as if they were a course I am taking that in time I will be able to create the kinds of web sites that I can picture in my head, that is dynamic, accessible and standards compliant database driven websites with front-end client-side functionality.