With the increasing number of web designers entering the market today, either with a formally earned degree or as a self-taught individual, competition can get intense. For those who want to improve their skills to make themselves stand out, here are 10 tips to being a better web designer.
1. Learn HTML and CSS
With popular content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal powering more websites everyday, much of the coding and design is simply point and click. To really add value to consumers, know and understand how HTML and CSS works, so you can make changes and customizations where necessary to provide a unique solution for your client.
2. Focus on Web Design, not Graphic Design
While some of us web designers are also proficient in graphic design, not all graphic designers can be web designers and vice versa. Each field is a completely separate area of design and should be treated as such. The audience for a website may be quite different from a graphic design, as most graphic design is done for a print medium, rather than a computer screen. To be successful, you should specialize in web design.
3. Engage in Frequent Continuing Education
Web design is a constantly changing field as new trends and technology become available. Whether you earned a formal degree in web design or not, chances are what you knew when you started is not relevant anymore, or won’t be for long. Constantly educate yourself on what’s new out there, and learn how to apply it in your work.
4. Plan First, Design Second
While many designers “know” what they want something to look like, or can take a client’s idea and run with it, the planning stage is an important, often neglected stage of design. For an effective plan to be in place, take time to learn about the client’s company/product/service, and what they expect from their website. This is a good time to consider industry trends and what client competitors may be doing. Sketch the website on paper and make notes. Proper planning beforehand can help you make the make the most of your time and resources.
5. Remember Experience
Skills and credentials are important, but if you don’t have experience to back it up, they won’t mean much when it comes to web design. Each project you do provides more experience overall, which will help you move up the ranks. Students may want to consider starting work before graduation, so as to enter the world with experience to partner with those skills and credentials.
6. Strengthen Your Business Sense
Regardless of whether you freelance or work for a firm as an employee, a strong business sense will make you a better web designer. Understanding value, sales, and balancing costs is a very important part of what you have to offer clients. Though you’re designing a website for them, you need to look at it as though you are providing them with a complete business solution. You’ll provide more value to your clients, increasing referrals, and repeat business.
7. Strengthen Your Communication Skills
Communication is vital in any field, but chances are you will have to go back and forth between the client, a graphic designer, and a programmer at the very least. Being able to effectively communicate messages between all involved parties will be essential, as it can make or break the project’s success.
8. Strengthen Your Team Skills
Web design includes several elements, and rarely will you be able to do all of it alone. You’ll need to be able to work effectively with one or more others to build a killer final product. This means being helpful, understanding your position in the grand scheme of things, and doing your part of the work to the best of your ability, regardless of circumstance.
9. Keep Yourself Organized
Organization is vital anywhere, but with web design, it is essential. Organize your computer with folders for each project, and folders for each element: sounds, images, text, etc. This way you know where to look if anything gets missed. Keep to-do lists for each project, keep track of correspondence between clients and other team members working on the project all in one place.
10. Don’t Neglect Your Portfolio
Keep your portfolio current to show your understanding of and experience with the newest technology. Graphic designs from last decade may still work in a portfolio today, but given how much the web has changed in the last 10 years, leaving an old website in your portfolio could be a shot in the foot.
Working in web design is a challenge, as you must be able to keep up with current information and adjust accordingly for each project that lands in your lap. These tips can help you stay flexible to handle anything that may come your way.
Online shopping is often more fun and more convenient than going to a store. You don’t have to fight traffic, search for a parking space or deal with crowds, and you can pick out the exact items that you want. In addition, getting your purchases in the mail can be exciting, especially when you don’t know exactly when they will arrive.
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