Ten things you should know about Webstart , the Website Designer Course

Ten things you should know about Webstart , the Website Designer Course :
Greg Crowhurst

1. Check it out :

 What makes a good web design course ? How do you judge ? Check out the accreditation . is there a money back approval ? Is there a personal tutor service ? Does the course offer a thorough grounding in HTML and CSS ?

I have just finished and passed my final assignment , Assignment 10 , see- "www.stonebird.co.uk".  Webstart has given me the tools I need to bring together so  many aspects of caring full-time for my wife who has very severe ME and use them as a powerful campaigning tool.

 Not only am I intensely proud of my new skills,   I now qualify for a NCFE Level 3 award in Web Design  from UK Open Learning : a Diploma  in Web Design.

As someone who has an MA, a Nursing qualification and Post graduate qualifications in Education and Training and Development, I had no idea of how rigorous this course would be. Perhaps I even thought it a bit below me, an easy ride. Wrong.    Webstart reminds me very much of my nursing training , the exact same emphasis upon professionalism and good practice. In terms of challenging myself, it's right up there with the MA, not in academic content perhaps, but in sheer hard work.  I am still reeling.

You will not get the Diploma without putting yourself on the line.

2. Apply :

Make a commitment.  Take the step. Apply. Do it.

There was perhaps a certain naivety about my application.

I had no idea what I was letting myself in for . Don't be misled by promises of 10 easy lessons ! Yes, they ARE easy , once you've done them. But the simplest things like basic page structure, not getting your HEAD and BODY tags all mixed up, while easy to read about and understand   took  some ingraining, I found.

Some say you don't need to do a Course to learn HTML, well they are right, it is not that complicated - in theory. But in practice, I doubt I would be anywhere near the level of professional competence that I am now, without the discipline and the rigors of this course behind me . There is just no way I would have challenged myself to same sky-high standards. I am proud to validate all my work, to code strictly  in accordance with international standards.

3. Take the Risk

..of not being able to do it / understand it / complete it / being freaked out by it / becoming obsessed by it / exposing yourself to new ideas and challenges.

You will be challenged !

However  tutor support is always on hand; I've emailed at all kinds of unsociable hours and often had a reply back almost immediately;  you WILL find your way through !

Remember, the basics are easy enough, it's the putting them into practice : the unclosed tag, the missing quotation mark, the dreaded   DIV's , that threaten your sanity  (over and over again..)

How many times did I feel I had hit an absolute brick wall in my learning ?? There was no way I could make this page work....

 Looking back, those were the breakthroughs in disguise  that took me to the next level.

4. Knuckle down

..bite the bullet, take your medicine. It is hard !!! It is easy !! Either way get started on Assignment 1 .

5. Be prepared to face your inadequacies, weaknesses and vulnerability

Who would thought that a web design course would bring up such deep-rooted issues ?

How was your school experience ? Be prepared to relive it all, as you anxiously submit your assignments and receive your written feedback  . I would rather not, thank you very much, receive (constructive) criticism of my work.

Sometimes I just felt so stupid, so annoyed with myself. It is not always that easy to pick yourself up of the floor and attend to all the issues that you have missed . To feel stuck forever on a particular Assignment because you have tried everything and you still can't make it work. Would I have been this disciplined on my own ? I tell you....

it's a lesson in humility !!!

6. Be willing to ask for help 

I have discovered that I would rather do anything than ask for help. Those times I did, in desperation, I did with unruly hair and a wild look .....Yet the help is always there, always helpful, always kind. Eventually it all falls into place, eventually HTML becomes second nature . Give me nothing more than a basic text editor my friend and I  will knock you up a fully functional  web page in five minutes. Some learning, though, some awful moments along the way  has gone into being able to do that  !!

Accept the help that is on offer.

7. Be willing to research widely.

The Course material, comprehensive though it is, is probably not enough to get you through. It is  test of your enthusiasm, excitement, I think, to read and research, as widely as you can. There is so much help online, but always, always, it was good to bring it all back to the safe confines of the Course to apply my learning to each assignment and learn good practice.

Be prepared to make quantum leaps in your ability; I was light years away from being able to create a site like Stonebird just nine months ago, when I started. However, in my experience, expect each leap to be hard-
won ! You might just get a bit battered and bruised along the way, especially your ego !

8. Be prepared to go backwards.

..in order to go forwards.

All was Spring-like,  until I hit the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) section  .....talk about being turned upside down,  upon my head. It was only the discipline of the early HTML sections, the knowledge that I CAN do this, that got  got me back up , off the floor, where I lay confounded.

9. Be prepared to be perfect.

Nothing less is acceptable. The tutors are not tyrants; they  understand we are beginners. However your HTML and CSS must be the best, must reach every standard of excellence. That is what is so good about Webstart , I believe. Good practice is drilled into you, from page one. My final  feedback report remarked upon how I had observed "good practice" throughout Stonebird. That meant everything to me.

As a  Nurse I observe the highest standards of professionalism, thanks to my tutors, long ago, and now it is the same as a fledgling web designer. I swear I will always  validate everything I do to international standards.

This course will challenge you on deeper levels, especially your values, than you would ever have considered possible. Are you content with shoddy practice ?

Are you completely congruent ? You will find out.

10 Be prepared to grow as a person

Being a web designer, I have discovered, is fulfilling, enriching, stimulating, exciting, complex. It is definitely  not a simple task.

Web Design brings up a lot of issues, not least is how to work with someone else - that is why the discipline of submitting regular assignments and dealing with feedback is such a useful one along the way.  Web Design is a lot more complicated than it seems, on every possible level. I have so much yet to learn in terms of the creative process with a client.

I have learned, above all, that you have to be bold, at the end of the day. You won't do it, if you are not. Dare to be confident.

Be brave and enjoy it !


  1. Hey buddy, this is very awesome. Now one can be very careful when they thing of doing website designer course. The tips are very much valuable and also helpful. Thanks a lot.

  2. WOW! Wll done Greg.

    You have worked hard and done an excellent job on this site. I hope you might find a way to do some more. I look forward to seeing them.



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