So you want to be a designer? It’s an exciting and creative job that gives you a step up into the profitable and ever-changing world of website technology. And let’s be honest for a moment: people and businesses will always need websites designed. This allows for a considerable amount of job security. So what skills should you know before jumping into the deep end? Here are five key skills to have under your belt in order to become a stellar website designer:
1. Understand the Basics
Perhaps the most important skill for budding designers is the ability to understand basic HTML and CSS, the coding languages for the vast majority of websites today. Yes, there are tools that designers can use, such as Macaw and Webflow, that can create beautiful websites using only drag and drop principles. No coding required. The drawback is that you can only rely on these website builders for so long. As you grow as a designer, a client will eventually come up with something too large or complex for a drag-&-drop platform. Then you will want to NEED the knowledge of HTML and CSS.
Knowing the basics of HTML and CSS should be important to designers because it allows you to see the works of your hands come to life. This knowledge will allow you to come to a better grip of what your limitations and expectations as a designer are. HTML and CSS will tell you how different web aspects will appear, such as where images will be placed, how text will look, among other things. Would you build a house without a foundation? No? Then why would you choose to ignore the cornerstones of many websites?
2. Marketing is Key
Your website will unfortunately not draw people to it on its own. The budding designer must be knowledgeable about the advantages of marketing. With the rise of social media, it has become easier than ever to get your name out to the public. However, many designers see this as the job of someone else or not important at all. In order for anyone to acknowledge your brand, they must be informed about it. Becoming fluent if not knowledgeable on major social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) will allow you to get your name into public awareness.
Another important thing to understand is the idea of actual marketing. There has been a rising trend of utilizing advertising campaigns. Websites can use paid marketing schemes such as Google AdWords to place ads in places where specific and targeted people will see them. Know the ins and outs of these marketing campaigns and they will help your clients get business!
3. A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
After spending so much time on a design, make sure you follow through completely. It’s important to put effort into all aspects of your design. One of the highest priorities visually is the quality of the images on your site. Yes, designers can create engaging designs but should the images have poor quality then your whole site can be easily disfigured. Knowing the quality of good photography or graphics is vital to the overall look of your website. Spending the extra money and time on the quality of these things will not only improve your site but also improve your own image as a designer.
4. Print is important too
As a designer, you need to be well rounded. Not only will this open more doors, but it will also help to expand your skill set and make you more marketable. So learn how to design print materials for any websites you may create. Anybody can slap a logo on a template and call it a business card, but having quality print materials is a vital part to any business. That’s where you can come in.
Knowing how to translate a company’s website and logo into print is an excellent skill to have. Many industries still rely heavily on business cards, brochures, yard signs, and printed material. Having this skill will give you the edge when clients go looking for a designer.
5. Be Creative
In today’s ever expanding society of the newest and trendiest websites, you have to stay on the cutting edge of things. Being creative is an imperative part to any good designer’s tool kit. A computer will never be able to create beauty and that’s why you are so essential. Let your creative juices flow and create a masterpiece on the Internet. Keep an eye on those popular websites around you and learn from them. Note what looks amazing and what just doesn’t work. Be your own designer and create something unique and beautiful.
There are so many valuable skills a website designer should possess. The ones listed above are just a sampling of those considered most important. If you truly want to be a designer, start with creativity and go from there. Drive and desire will follow if you’re passionate and inspired. Best of luck!