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How to Gain Web Design Experience and Build a Portfolio

One of the biggest obstacles to getting a job as a web designer is the lack of experience.
Fortunately, if you take initiative, this step in the process to getting hired can be an easy one.
One of the benefits of being involved in technology is that most of the tools you need to build incredible applications are free or can be found at very low cost.
Tools needed: HTML editor, graphics editor, web server, database engine, and for our example php.
NVU, why nvu? because it is a simple and free HTML editor, it might not have all the bells and whistles, but that can be a good thing, too many bells and whistles in web design often times leads to bad design.
Photoshop, It is the industry standard, bottom line.
It is rather expensive to purchase outright, but often times you can get a discount for being a student.
If you absolutely cannot afford it, you can always use GIMP, the free image editor.
You will need a webserver, for this I recommend Apache, which is free and an excellent tool to go along with mysql and php, usually the three are referred to as AMP.
Having apache installed on your desktop is a great way to set up a testing server before going live, especially if you plan on scripting in PHP.
Having a database is not always essential, obviously it depends on the project.
But sooner or later, you will have to install, use, and update one.
MySQL is the preferred open source database, especially when working with PHP and Apache, since PHP has many commands that are mysql specific, it's a great marriage together.
And finally, PHP is the scripting or programming language we will use to create the functionality on sites.
I haven't installed these three in a while, so I will refrain from writing a tutorial on it, here's a tutorial, I think is pretty clear if not just do a search for one.
Okay, once you have these things squared away, and you are ready to start working on projects, it time to head over to sourceforge.
net.
At Sourceforge, you can either create your own project, where you will be the project manager-developer-whatever else.
Or you can search the help wanted section and find a project that interests you.
I suggest applying for 3 or 4 projects, mainly because with some of them you might not get an answer back, or you might get rejected.
applying is simple enough, it usually involves just sending the contact person an email.
You do have to sign up first and create an account at sourceforge in order contact anyone.
I think sourceforge is by far the easiest way to gain web design and developer experience.
Other people like to volunteer to some charity, and that might work for you.
Personally, it's not my cup of tea.
Good luck in all your endeavors.
Any questions please post in the comments section.
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