It wasn’t long ago that brands looking to establish an international presence had to invest in physical outlets. But with shifts in consumer behavior, business has undergone a digital transformation. Brands now use a broad range of digital strategies to reach customers all over the world—and for most, their chief tech asset remains the website.
Whether it’s for business, social media or shopping—every website we visit has a unique design to attract users and make us want to sign up, click or buy. Whether a website attracts potential customers impacts the bottom line of the business itself.
So it's easy to see why web designers are entering a thriving job market with lots of growth potential. Here are the skills you need to learn and the software you should know to get your dream web design job.
What Is a Web Designer?
The person who designs and organizes a website’s visual elements, appearance, and layout is known as a web designer or UX designer. Since every business or service now needs a website to showcase what it has to offer, web designers have an important job to do. Whether it’s a car manufacturer, a grocery store, or an institution, having a virtual presence has become a necessity. So when a potential customer visits a website, the design and layout needs to be aesthetically pleasing and the navigation should be uncluttered—these factors grab the attention of the audience.
Should a Web Designer Know How to Code?
The billion-dollar question is whether web designers should know how to code or not. Since web design is more concerned with the usability and aesthetics of a website, a web designer actually doesn't need to know coding. They should be more proficient with visual tools like Photoshop, Sketch, and Illustrator.
Having said that, if an aspiring web designer knows a web development specialty like front-end programming languages (HTML or PHP), it’s going to make them stand out as an applicant and will help convince a recruiter that they’re passionate about web design.
Skills Required for a Web Designer
Before you worry about cracking a job interview, it’s important you’re aware of the skills needed to become a web designer. The path to becoming one will be clearer with good strategies in place.
- Brand Awareness
Web designers play a major role in controlling customer perception of a brand or service in the virtual marketplace. So in order to design a website that gives a clear picture of the business is about, web designers need a solid understanding of the brand and its intended audiences.
2. Customer Analysis
Websites are primarily designed for customer utility. Visitors should be able to access the information they want easily. The design should both be aesthetically sound and explicit enough to convey the necessary information at a glance. With Google Analytics in place, extracting user details is made simple. Web designers can incorporate key findings from data analysis and user interactions into the design process.
3. Visual Aesthetics
A web designer should be able to communicate a visual story to keep the audience engaged. Colorful images are easier to process and remember as visual information than plain text. So a website that uses carefully chosen and well-positioned images and color schemes will be highly effective in communicating a brand’s value proposition. You also need to know the basics of color theory if you want to master the art of visual storytelling in web design.
4. CMS Expert
A Content Management System (CMS) is the platform on which a website is created and maintained. WordPress is a popular CMS used to create digital content. It has many plugins and layouts that help in setting up a website quickly.
WordPress can be learnt relatively easily, and knowing how to manage this popular platform will always look great on your resume. For more information, hop on over to our article about managing your online brand with WordPress.
5. Navigation Design
Because a website is essentially a repository of information, anyone accessing it should be able to easily find out what’s available and where to find it. A web designer should be creative enough to design and arrange titles, headings, navigation labels, and hyperlink text considering user-centricity.
Tools Every Web Designer Should Know
Visual representation has the power to become a driving factor in a brand’s popularity and market cut-through. And thanks to a broad range of high quality design tools available, web design has become much more achievable than it once was in the past. Design tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver are a web designer’s best friend. These tools allow designers to create beautiful and highly dynamic websites. Below is a list of the top tools preferred by web designers across the globe.
- Adobe PhotoShop
This is one of the most important tools on the bucket list of web designers. PhotoShop is well known for its capability in manipulating images and web graphics with incredible detail. Images can be broken down into several layers and reworked to enhance the final output.
2. Adobe Dreamweaver
What if the design you have in mind could be coded with a tool to produce a website? This is what Dreamweaver brings to a web designer’s toolbox. It doesn’t provide a template where you can choose and retrofit the elements. Instead, it helps you produce authentic and original design concepts for a website. This is one of the tools that ensures easier website optimization.
3. Invision Studio
Before creating a website, it’s important to gauge how the interface works. For this purpose, prototyping is one of the simplest and most effective methods adopted by web designers. Invision studio makes the prototyping process simple and hassle-free. It creates a replica of the website you’re planning. This prototype then serves as the reference point for the actual website when you’re ready to build.
4. Google Web Designer
Hiring Criteria for Web Designers
Web design is a competitive field. Since this job is a mix of creativity and technology, it’s a popular field of study for students and emerging professionals. So let’s take a look at what hiring managers expect from applicants.
- Excellent Writer and Speaker
In a corporate environment, a web designer never works alone. They need to interact with key delegates such as stakeholders and members of other departments. So having a good command of language is an important quality. In fact, this is what recruiters will most likely be looking for first.
2. Internship Experience
Many newbies won’t have prior experience in the field—but completing an internship has become the new norm. Internships are short gigs and can be done during semester vacations, or full-time if you have completed graduation. The experience gained from an internship will give you a headstart on the corporate journey, and will help prospective recruiters understand your goals better.
3. Extensive Portfolio
Web design is largely an independent job. You don’t necessarily need the help of any other fields to create a great website. All you need to have is a niche that your site will focus on. So it’s a good idea to create a website of your own when beginning to learn web design. This will give you real-time exposure and the chance to close any learning gaps you might have. Creating an online portfolio will make you stand out from the crowd. It not only puts your technical expertise on the limelight but also showcases your passion for web design.
Recruiters expect originality from web designers. It’s easy to copy a website and produce a replica. But this can damage the image of the brand among consumers, or worse, face legal issues for plagiarism. As a best practice, a web designer should maintain authenticity in every step of the design process.
Getting Hired as a Web Designer
The web design industry is young and demand for talented professionals in this field is still growing. As businesses continue to adopt new virtual channels to reach customers and sell products, demand for professional web designers will remain high. If you’re creatively inclined and comfortable in the tech realm, the dynamic world of web design could be your calling. All you need to begin is a willingness to learn and an understanding of the business of creating a user-friendly website.
Read more about how to highlight your skills in an online job interview.