I spend quite a lot of my time over at the SitePoint forums passing on some of my experience within the web industry to budding new web designers who are all eager to learn but have run in to problems when building their pages.
The biggest problem that a web designer faces is that anyone can do it. If you decide that you want to be an electrician, plumber or doctor then you can’t just go out and try your hand at it without expecting it to end with disastrous results, so why should web design be any different?
All you need to create a website is text editing software but for many people this is making hard work of things so why not just use a WYSIWYG editor which will do all the hard work for you? It can insert pictures, tables and even frames and that’s where the problem lies.
I personally use Dreamweaver but don’t go anywhere near the WYSIWYG features that are available. Instead I stick to the code view because I know what I type is going to be valid and accurate code. Leave it up to the WYSIWYG and you never know what’s going to get churned out.
However, time and time again people log on to SitePoint and post that there page isn’t doing what they expect in ‘X’ browser and that it’s the browsers fault.
More often than not a quick visit to the W3C validation service will highlight that there’s numerous errors in the code. Fixing these errors will generally solve the problems but because the web designer has used a WYSIWYG editor they’re not only unfamiliar with the code but also don’t actually understand HTML and CSS.
My advice? Learn HTML and CSS from day one as it’ll save a whole load of headaches along the way.