I don't want to bother pro web designers with simple questions as I see most of the questions here are quite technical.

An example would be, 'I have a template I've downloaded. The folder contains a css folder and PHP files. How would I bring this into Dreamweaver?'

It's unfortunately in a space between what I'd be able to find on Google and asking here without feeling like a hinderance for those who don't want to answer such simple questions.

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Warren, if you can be more specific I would actually point you to superuser.com they are familiar with many windows programs and can provide help on configurations and usage. My suggestion would be to create a site template where your root folder contained the php and css folder. I haven't used DW in a year so don't have it installed to give you a walk through. Check out SuperUser and write a detailed post. –  Anagio Dec 19 '12 at 11:53
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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

For a great deal of simple questions, you'll probably be able to find the answer yourself without asking anyone if you know where to look. Here are some ideas:

Read a book or take a video course

If you're new to an application or language and you haven't yet read a book or done an introductory course, then of course basic concepts are going to prove challenging. It's worth reading more than one book or watching several video courses to get yourself up to speed. You'll find simple problems much easier that way.

The good news is that there has never been more information available online to learn from. Here are just a few of the resources that I use:

  • O'Reilly's Safari Books Online lets you access a huge range of programming books for a monthly subscription fee.

  • Lynda.com is great for application-specific learning. They have video tutorials on all of the popular Adobe apps (including Dreamweaver).

  • Codeschool, Codecademy, and Treehouse have a growing range of interactive courses.

  • Tutsplus has a good selection of courses aimed mostly at beginners, and Peepcode carries a selection of more advanced stuff.

Use the help file or online documentation for the application you're working in

Most applications have help files and online documentation (e.g. Dreamweaver). If the simple problem you're trying to solve relates to an application, there's a good chance it's mentioned in the manual. (e.g. How to define a site from a local folder using Dreamweaver. )

Check the official documentation for the language you're using

Good programming languages have an official documentation site. (e.g. PHP Docs) If the simple problem you're trying to solve relates to a language, check the docs first.

For example, if you were trying to read data from a file using PHP, a search for the term "file" in the PHP docs takes you directly to the file function. The bottom of that page lists a number of similar functions under the header "See Also" that you can use to continue your research. All of these pages provide examples with actual code you can use to learn more.

When you've done all of that...

If you've done all of those things when trying to solve your problem, then go ahead and seek help from other people by:

  1. Using a search engine. (Learn how to use Google's advanced search features too.)
  2. Asking in Stack Exchange chat rooms or on IRC.
  3. Asking on the most relevant Stack Exchange site.
  4. Asking on a mailing list for your language.
  5. Asking at a local user group.
  6. Asking in forums related to your product or field. (e.g. http://forums.adobe.com/ )
  7. Paying another designer or programmer to help out (if you're really stuck!)

There is nothing wrong with asking simple questions in any of these places. Everyone was a beginner once. You just need to demonstrate that you've done a bit of research yourself and tried to solve your own problem before asking for help. For more on this subject, read Matt Gemmell's essay titled, "What have you tried?"

Web design, development and programming in general is about problem solving. Most of the time, that will mean solving problems yourself. A good mindset to adopt is "Have I done everything I can to solve this?" It's only when you start to exhaust your options that it's worth turning to others to fix your problems for you. You'll learn a lot more by solving problems yourself when you can.

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This was a really great post. :) –  Aarthi Oct 8 '12 at 17:24
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Nick's answer is very good, but I just want to add a few more points:

This site is a good place for beginner questions, as long as they follow the guidelines in the faq. However, looking at your profile, some of your questions were closed, not because they were beginner questions, but because they were either

  1. Off-topic. Use this site to ask questions about entire websites, and not to ask questions about programming or browsers (those types of questions would be on-topic on another stack exchange site).

  2. not constructive. We prefer questions that don't lead to discussions. For example, in this question, you asked "what do you consider the most lucrative web development disciplines?". The faq has more information, but basically you were asking for opinions, and not facts. If you ask a question on this site, make sure that the question leads to factual answers.

If you took a look at the faq, and made sure that your next questions followed the guidelines in the faq, then your questions will be a better fit for the site.

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Understood. Sorry, I am new to the site and still trying to get a sense of the etiquette and how I should be asking my questions. I wasn't aware that discussions were a no-go but I'll keep that in mind for next time. –  Warren van Rooyen Oct 7 '12 at 18:25
    
@WarrenvanRooyen no problem, everybody is new at some point. If you have any questions about the site, don't be afraid to ask on the meta. –  Christofian Oct 7 '12 at 18:27
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