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Advanced Skills for Web Design
The ability to design websites is a skill that can only increase in value, even with the advent of do-it-yourself website building sites like SquareSpace and WordPress. However, even if you’re not a professional web designer, web design is a very useful skill to have and could save you a lot of money in some instances, such as if you’re an entrepreneur.
If you already have some knowledge of basic HTML, acquiring more advanced skills will help you to take your web design to the next level – allowing you to create highly effective websites, even if they are not necessarily complex.
Here are some of the skills you should be looking to acquire if you want to advance your web design ability:
Graphic design involves creating digital art, whether that’s by converting your drawings into the digital realm or creating something completely from scratch.
Graphic design is a basic skill needed for building websites, but it is also one that you should advance if you are looking to improve your web design skills. You should be competent using Adobe Illustrator, and not just Photoshop, as the high-quality scaling afforded by using vector images is invaluable when creating a sharp, congruent website. You might not want to use the full Adobe suite, but, whatever tools you use, make sure you can convey an image in your head onto your digital canvas.
There will be a lot that you will have to research as a web designer. Most of your coding life will be spent trying to work out why things just aren’t working, but on a design front you should be competent at marketing research.
That doesn’t just mean being familiar with the website’s brand; the standards set by this company doing website design in New York include full user persona analysis. That means characterizing an average website user by utilizing user archetypes that fit the spectrum of a site’s average visitors. To do this, there are several steps that a designer needs to cover:
Discover the personas by defining what the ethos of the website is with a website vision board. Exploring the website vision is important as you will need to know who will use the website, who it’s for and how they will use it.
Analyze the user personas so you can figure out how their wants and needs will impact the design of the site – you will need to prioritize the website functionality based on this persona analysis.
Then the designer will have to analyze the user persona’s backstory and skills – what’s their general education level, what sort of skills do they have? This will greatly impact the navigation of the site, as well as the complexity of the functionality.
Concerns – what do the user personas typically feel concerned about when browsing similar websites? How can these be alleviated?
Goals – what is their ultimate aim when visiting this website? Is it for information? Is it to make a purchase? Is it to stay in touch with friends?
The user experience (UX) is very important, as well as mastering the user interface (UI).
UX and UI skills require tools like using grid systems, color psychology and great font awareness to be able to ensure the user experience is exactly what the user personas require. Making sure that the website looks great on all devices is a good example of the importance of the user interface. There are easy ways to develop your UX/UI skills – Adobe has a solution called Adobe XD that allows anybody to map out the ideal UX/UI of their website. The difficulty involved with UX/UI if you’re not an expert web designer comes from designing something that you then can’t implement with code. Many web designers, however, simply nail the UX/UI and then hand their designs over to coders who can make their dreams a reality.
Your web design skills will be marginally improved if you have a good mastery of one or more programming languages.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has quickly become one of the most important considerations of any web editor, since great SEO will allow a website to beat competitors without spending any money on advertising.
Even the best web design will fall flat on its face if it doesn’t have the SEO necessary for people to actually find the site. Technical SEO is greatly important in the web design stages, where tweaks to site speed, site performance, the layout, the robots.txt, the navigation simplicity, the meta-tags and so much more all impact the end result. If you’re a budding web designer who is wondering why your sites aren’t getting much traffic, you should probably start looking into developing your SEO skills.
Most front-end tech people don’t know the first thing about server management, so if you learn the basic skills involved in server management your competency, as well as your attractiveness as a designer-for-hire, will skyrocket.
It’s an incredibly overlooked skill, but it is one that will help you as a web designer to analyze and prevent downtime, something that has impact on any site and can have long-term effects on SEO. Server management involves things like capacity planning, which requires knowing the physical equipment that’s being used and which equipment would best suit your site. A good example is if you handle lots of data you will likely be a big magnet for hackers. If so, you know that virtual networks and (secure) cloud-based solutions can help to mitigate the risk of some attacks, as well as the damage that they do (ransom attacks probably won’t do much good if your site is spread across multiple servers).
About the Author
James Daniels is a freelance writer, business enthusiast, a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek. He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics.