Every offline business knows that online is the place to be. It’s where the money is… it’s where people are searching for advice, assistance, a helping hand, and for the products they need. Unfortunately, it’s not just business owners who know this. The active job seeker knows it too, and with the boom in work from home opportunities, it’s as though every guy, girl, man, and even teenager are looking to add some extra cash by freelancing it in the web design industry.
Buy a theme, toss in WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or any other free to use open source platform with free to use, easy to customise themes, slap up a home page, about us, contact page, services etc. and call it a designed website.
That is not what a professional, well-rounded web designer will do!
That practice gives the industry a bad reputation, and gives businesses the tedious research job when they are looking for a professional web designer. They do not have the time, or the resources to amend a package when they don’t get what they ordered. The site needs to do what the client requires. Function! If it doesn’t deliver, they are entitled to make a claim for losses, whether it’s legitimate or alleged loss of revenue, therefore serious web design companies, and freelancers alike, must have adequate insurance policies.
Besides, in the event a project goes sideways, the protection to clients can mean saving your reputation.
Reputation management is just as important to a web designer as it is for every clients’ business, and sometimes that’s offered by companies by managing the website and other social media profiles too. It’s what contributes to brand identity, awareness, and consumer confidence.
All underlying reasons that businesses use suitable candidates for designing, and maintaining their presence online.
Here’s a good pre-requisite question to ask before you consider learning how to become a web designer. Do you have an active interest in how the internet and websites function?
An example is when you land on one of the most glamorised, easy on the eye, interactive website you’ve ever had the pleasure of discovering and wondered – How did they do that? IE, you click on the view menu, and select source from the drop down menu and see type=”text/css” and you go from there to investigate the cascading style sheet coding that’s been done to create whatever effect the site has you intrigued about.
That’s what you call an active interest in web design.
When you’re constantly evaluating how websites function, and not just wishing you could do something like that. The truth is you can become anything you want to when you put your mind to it, and that’s the beauty of the internet. It serves as the world’s largest information inventory, serving you up with how to instructions on everything you can imagine.
The important part – Web design makes the difference between whether you absorb the information, or find it an utter eye sore to even contemplate digging deeper into the website. You can become a self-taught web designer, but training will take you beyond mere average. In terms of practising web design, you need to be familiar with the use GUI HTML editors, (GUI – Graphical User Interface, and is more commonly known as – WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get)
GUI HTML editors let you see and edit and what goes on under the hood of a website, and some offer certification programs, providing evidence of your expertise using the design software. Most web designers will specialise in one front-end design program, depending on the type of web design they do.
Dreamweaver is often the choice for those specialising in e-commerce web design, working in both WYSIWYG editing, with the ability to further customise the website with manual coding, to achieve the required outcome. When it comes to manual coding, you are going to need training on the subject, and the various components that go into web design projects.
You can educate yourself to become a web designer, but you will definitely find it will take you a lot longer than receiving structured and vital training that’s required to make it in the industry.
When learning web design, there are so many variables to the career. Self-educating yourself will not provide you with a “road map” into a specialised field. It’s more likely that you’ll be focused on one aspect of training such as the graphic design, perhaps learning about CSS, and customising fonts, and with that only have the basics down.
To get into the professional side of web design, structured training courses teach
the fundamentals you need to address business requirements. It’s no good knowing how to design a website, if you don’t have the pre-requisites employers and businesses require. These courses can be found in the majority of local colleges, as well as advanced web design courses, such as the Certified Internet Web (CIW), Professional Certifications in various categories.
Components involved in training include:
Note that subjects such as ASP and PHP are used more in the website development part of design, but designers should at least be knowledgeable on the languages, as larger projects require team work involving graphic designers, web designers, web developers, and IT project managers, all working together to meet order requirements of clients.
Within the industry, there can be disgruntlement among designers over the use of images, as well as design ideas. Therefore, it’s beneficial to know where the law lies surrounding the use of design concepts, layouts, and interactivity implemented on design projects.
Some of the advanced courses cover the legal aspect, ensuring you know everything to keep yourself, your work, and your clients’ website in compliance with regulation, and protection of consumer rights, privacy protection etc.
That will also include the terms and conditions, and shipping policy information for online retailers, shipping internationally if you are working as a sole trader. When working as an employee, this will be the responsibility of your employer, but you should know the elements that can cause legal complications on final deliverables.
Once you’ve trained to become a web designer, jobs can be found in any number of places. In this day in age, the vast majority of businesses have websites and those who don’t will eventually be looking to get one designed. The cyber movements have gone beyond the stage of being a craze, to becoming a global trading platform, turning some people’s dreams into a success, and drastically deteriorating the businesses left behind.
As a web designer, it’s your job to help those businesses to be represented in the best way possible, designed to stand out, while maintaining a brand identity for clients. Not all web designer jobs will be like that though.
There will be some times you’ll be working with larger web design agencies, where you’d work alongside a team of people, which could include graphic designers, content management experts, and lead designers too. When you get into this career, you’re moving into a user-orientated business.
Your designing skills are going to be put to the test with every project you work on, so you are going to need strong communication skills, to advise and understand the client requirements.
Due to the investment involved, business owners can be demanding, and they have every reason to do so. You are designing the face of their business. Some clients may have established a reputable brand offline before being forced to compete on a global scale, due to the downturn in business, offline.
For others, it’s the start of whole new business venture, taking it to newfound heights. That’s the part where you can enjoy being part of that success journey, and turning dreams into realities for some of the clients you work with.
The beauty of having a career in this field is that it’s in high demand. Not only do businesses need the assistance to have their sites designed, but they need those to be maintained as well. Fortunately, there are plenty of large and small companies operating in all aspects of:
These are all separate careers, but they all are handy for you to leverage career networks, such as LinkedIn, to develop partner relationships with thousands of people in the same industry as yourself. A bit of networking goes a long way in finding lucrative web design jobs, either one-off and can often see you find work with large agencies, on a full-time permanent basis
Web design companies are where you’ll find the most jobs are. The more in demand they are, the more web designers they will need.
As a designer, you’ll be skilled in areas of IT, which can help you into jobs in programming or consulting work, advising on best practices to improve the design and usability of websites. This can lead to ongoing work, if you’re in a consultancy role. For large websites, you could find yourself employed full-time just to manage the website, and maintain its functionality for users.
As a freelance website designer, you’ll be working for yourself, so you’ll need to be good with time management, and excellent in customer relations to excel in this line of work. A bad reputation will tarnish your career, but a first-class all-round service will gain you referrals, and build your credibility, keeping you busy on different projects. The freelance route for one-off web designs can be a good way to earn a little extra in-between your full-time work, or topping part-time wages, to pull in a full time steady salary, as well as setting your own rates. With that solo experience, you could progress onto managerial roles, or go into business yourself, employing more designers to help you, serve clients with an improved service.
As the web design industry is so wide and varied it is hard to accurately say how much web designers can earn. Web designer’s wages will vary according to job title/role, experience, skills required, location, any qualifications you may have and lastly whether you work freelance or as an employed designer. Generally though, a web designer can earn between £17k and £35k+ per annum.
In addition to the training required to become a web designer you will also need to be prepared to work long hours sitting in front of a computer. You should have an eye for detail and be willing to keep up to date with the latest design and web trends.