I took a moment to put my thoughts together on this and see about some helpful ideas.
First up I'll say that I am taking the Web Design coding classes at school just to get the formal instruction and check in the 'ol HTML/PHP/Script
languages box. I know enough to hack/modify whatever I need for anything I'm working with right now and that goes back to the days of Perl based CGI
running things (Heck.. Boreland C+ with WWIV source code to really feel old for a minute). Learning code enough to hack as needed isn't too difficult
and certainly doesn't require any degree, IMO. I think that if you're looking to be a freelance or self employed designer, that is probably
sufficient when time and resources are limited and making a paycheck soonest is important.
The above approach would absolutely have to come with something like Joomla 2.5 / 3.0
(Full Ajax and Html 5/CSS3 on
3.0) with it's near unlimited Extensions
(Most are free) to do almost anything someone could want or need.
Joomla mastery or just expertise is also a skill all it's own as I've certainly seen ads in this area for experienced Joomla designers on contract
as well as regular employment type positions. It's the kind of CMS framework I can build what some places charge $500 for, be done in a day or less
and interactive too! (oooo... ahhhhh..) or, as I found when doing a Networking course presentation on Joomla, it's used by some major media outlets
for their web presence and deep, rich interactivity. It's scalable with as much as someone is willing to put into learning. (It's come a LONG way
since early versions too) Wordpress is great for a blog or basic site (The CMS, not the website of the same name) ....and Drupal is effective but if
Joomla looks tough, it'll be worse IMO.
The flip side and a GOOD learning tool for HTML as well if that's the goal is Wysiwyg Web Builder
. People hear site generator and they think Frontpage or the garbage toys every hosting provider throws in to "make your own website" .
Generally all those do is make someone willing to pay almost anything by the end of trying, to HAVE it made by someone else and I've paid a few bills
This is nothing like FP or even Muse today. Muse is missing a couple pretty big things, IMO.
WB8 also has Extensions
and hundreds more than what is there in the user made variety.
Unlike CMS systems though, this is HTML generation on 'publish' and load times are appropriately snappy. No comparison really...and this is what I
use for sites that don't need SOBI level databases or aren't running a thousand page catalog of inventory from a warehouse distributor or something.
Building a site with this is what has me up tonight in fact.
The LARGEST...and I mean, by far LARGEST benefit of this program for Web site design and layout is that it IS a layout program. A true, honest to
goodness point/click and it comes with all the positioning / detail / organizational tools that anyone who has used Photoshop or similar programs know
and love for just positioning at xxx by xxx and it's there. As you see it. Period. .......and relative in movement for re-sizing windows when used
So it's as much a graphics program for drawing power as it is like a practical version of Dreamweaver mixed with Indesign and minus a big learning
curve for someone starting out. (It will also show you the complete and detailed HTML code it will be generating as well as places for adding to it
and coding in events or basic function on almost everything
on a page...up to HTML5 standards with CSS3 of course)
Hope that helps for more info