Despite the fact that it’s been growing for years, the web design space continues to expand today. What does a web designer do? Designers use a combination of creativity and technical knowledge to ensure a website is visually appealing. While web design does require a special set of skills, becoming a web designer is well within the realm of possibility for those who are interested.
There are several possible work environments and career types within the web design world. If you want to become a web designer, consider which of the following will work best for you.
Freelance Web Designers
Freelancers manage their own business in addition to doing the actual design work. This offers an incredible amount of flexibility and freedom but comes at a price – namely the pressure of running one’s own business.
Agency Web Designers
The variety of work done by web designers employed by an agency can be similar to that of a freelancer, however agency designers are responsible for design only. This means no stress of running a business, but no real say in the jobs they take on, either.
In House Web Designer
An in-house designer works for a single company and their website(s). The variety of projects will likely be narrower than freelance and agency designers, which can allow for development of expertise in a particular niche. This can be a great opportunity if you’re interested in learning how to do web designing for a specific type of website (i.e., membership sites) or a particular niche (i.e., property management websites). The more experience you have in a specific area, the more marketable you’ll be to those looking for that type of designer.
How to Become a Web Designer
Formal Degrees Are Not the Standard
While formal web design degrees are available, they come with an innate problem: the industry evolves faster than the educational system. It’s very challenging to surmise, today, what knowledge is required for web designing, tomorrow. Much of what is learned in a formal web designer education could be out-of-date by the time a student completes his or her degree.
For those interested in how to study web designing, we actually recommend online classes (from sources like Udemy, Coursea, and Lynda) which can better teach you what to know about web design in the current market. In our experience, online classes are the best way to learn website design because they make better use of time and money.
What do web designers do to keep themselves up to date on current trends and industry changes? They never stop learning. When you become a web designer, you’ll need to continuously educate yourself on changes in technology, trends in digital marketing, and any new web designer skills you can learn. Again, so many of the things to learn for web designing can be found within the online courses we mentioned above.
Skills Needed to Become a Web Designer
Web designers play a pivotal role in all aspects of a company’s business. From marketing, to commerce, to customer service, they have a hand in it all.
In all honesty, the question shouldn’t be about how to become a website designer, but how to become a good one. Web designer skills are wide-ranging, so the more you know, the more value you’ll provide to clients or an employer. That said, here are a few important things to learn for a web designing career.
Skill-wise, what do you need to be a web designer? That’s a tough question to answer because there’s no hard and fast rule. You don’t need to be an expert in all areas to be successful, but there are a few basics of what to know about web design before you jump into the market.
Graphic Software and Design Tools
Just like any industry, web designers use a common set of tools and software to get the job done. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with these tools such as WordPress, Photoshop, stock photography options, etc.
Part of creating a successful website is making it visible to search engines; therefore, a clear understanding of SEO basics is a must for anyone who wants to become a web designer. Even the most beautifully designed site won’t serve its purpose unless it’s target audience can find it.
User Experience Principles
Today’s web design has to focus on user experience (UX). As you become a web designer it will be important to understand the components of UX web design. This includes demographic research, defining user personas, and generally understanding the user in order to develop a site that works best for them.
Graphic and Visual Design Theory
To become a web designer, you’ll need a basic comprehension of design theory. Conveying meaning or eliciting a specific feeling can be done by using different fonts, colors and layouts. Understanding and executing upon these concepts is a key part of the web designer’s job.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) involves designing websites in a way that motivates users to complete a desired action – such as filling out a form, making a purchase, or sharing on social media. A site that is optimized for conversions will be much more effective, and a designer who understands CRO concepts will be much more likely to land a job than one who does not.
It may surprise you to know that some of the skills needed to become a web designer aren’t computer skills at all. Soft skills are important for any person in charge of web design, and they are especially important for freelance designers.
Communication is key for a web designer. You’ll be working with concepts and within frameworks that most are unfamiliar with. To be effective, you’ll have to communicate what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what you need from those around you.
Time Management/Project Management
Staying on top of the moving pieces within a single web design project, let alone more than one project, is truly a skill. Those who want to become a web designer will definitely need to master time management and project management skills in order to be successful.
As a web designer you provide a service. The key to great customer service is empathy. Work to keep in mind where your customer is coming from and what they are trying to accomplish. A combination of empathy and communication skills will put you well on your way to providing top-notch customer service, always.
What if you DON’T Want to Become a Web Designer?
In that case, don’t you worry! You don’t need to know how to be a web designer in order to run a successful website.
Hungry Media brings powerful and affordable digital design solutions to any project. Our team of web designers takes pride in creating incredible products that meet the needs of every individual client. Whether it’s a website, mobile app, digital refresh, or anything in between – if you can dream it, our team can build it. Contact us today to get started. We can’t wait to meet you!
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer