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What It Takes to Become a Good Web Designer
Becoming a successful web designer requires you to possess certain set of traits and characteristics. Some of them you might already have, while others you might be neglecting without being aware of it.
A designer's job is more than simply making beautiful websites, it also requires balancing a great deal of information between you and the client, while at the same time managing your professional career. Planning, execution, revision, communication and marketing: these are just some of the must-have skills if you want to make it in this business.
The demand for great design is increasing exponentially as more and more businesses are looking to establish their online presence. They use web design to appeal to the average customer and provide them with their products and services. Graphic designers today come from different backgrounds. Some of them took courses or went to design schools, while others have learned how to design by themselves.
If you are one of those self-thought designers and are looking for a way to improve your skills, then these tips are just for you.
Good Communication Skills
Good communication is vital for any field, but it is especially important in the web design business.
You need to have a clear understanding of your client’s goals, just as much as the client needs to understand how those goals will be accomplished. Granted, most web designers manage their careers from home and aren’t exactly the chattiest of types. However, clear and bold communication with the client is imperative as you need to convey your design choices and explain how and why those exact choices are the best ones for your client’s business.
Market Your Expertise
The world of web design is a semi-organized jungle at best.
Competition is high and only the best get to stay in the race. But no matter how good you actually are, it doesn’t matter if no one has heard about you, or the clients don’t have the means of finding and contacting you.
Enjoying professional success means that you need to elbow your way ahead of competition and this is best achieved with the use of marketing. Tell your friends and colleagues, use social media and email strategies, or even hand out flyers and business cards.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that sitting back in a cozy chair and waiting for the clients to come to you is a fool’s errand.
Plan Your Design
Although many designers rely heavily on bursts of inspiration to accomplish their goals, they fail to realize that some basic planning ahead can actually help and promote that inspiration.
Research your client's company, ask them about their goals and what they expect to achieve using your design, and look around the competition for any clues and signs to either avoid or incorporate into your work.
These are all small steps every professional takes in order to ensure maximum client satisfaction.
Analyze and Evaluate Your Work Regularly
Every web design project ends with analysis and evaluation of your design work.
This practice is a trait of most creative professionals as it ensures that they are able to pinpoint and accept the mistakes and implement that feedback effectively. Put yourself in the shoes of average users and look at your design from their perspective. Alternatively, you can always get some outside opinion on the matter: some fresh, out of the box thinking can go a long way in this line of business.
Web Design vs. Graphic Design
Graphic design is closely related to web design, however, they have their differences.
Most people tend to share the misconception that all graphic designers can also be web designers if the work requires it and vice versa.
The truth is, web design is a completely different design field, with its own aptitude and expertise and as such, uses a completely different medium compared to traditional graphic design. Hiring a good graphic designer can do wonders for your web design work, but make sure you are committed and specialized in your own respective field.
Keep Yourself Updated with the Latest Technologies
You might not have known this, but even today, most self-acclaimed web designers are still using old and outdated techniques and technologies to do their work.
Following the latest emerging trends ensures that you don’t fall behind the competition and lose potential clients. Web design as a practice has changed a lot over the last couple of years, with HTML5 and CSS3 being supported by more and more devices each day. Even mobile development has seen an uprise and has become one the most talked about topics in the world of web design.
Hone Your Team Work Skills
People tend to think that web design is a single-person job. This is simply not true as most design work, whether it’s for a small client or a big design company, relies on teamwork.
A good web designer has the ability to efficiently work with others and delegation is crucial for any line of work, let alone web design. Teamwork involves understanding what your role is in the larger scheme and how you can use your, or someone else’s, talents to benefit the project.
Update Your Portfolio Regularly
The single most overlooked thing most self-proclaimed professionals fail to do is to update their portfolio.
A good portfolio allows web designers to show off their work and specific abilities and skillsets. Not only that, it also shows the client that you are active and relevant in today’s design world. Make sure your portfolio includes all aspects of your work, including colors, composition, content management, design rationales, layouts, typography and anything a potential client might find interesting and worth investing.
Web design is an ever-changing field of business.
To be successful means that you need to be hard working, patient and determined to cope with any issues that might arise during the project. This might sound funny at first, but focusing on more than simple design allows you to progress much faster as a web designer.
Practice what you have learned regularly and try to get as much experience as you can, whether it’s working for a client or doing a pet project. Nothing beats first-hand experience.
About the Author
John Stone is an SEO Consultant from Sydney, Australia.
Through years of experience, he became a devout believer in the notion that form should always follow function and that developing the ability to think outside of the box is a prerequisite of being a successful entrepreneur. You can find him on Twitter.