Breaking in to the Web Design Industry

Are you ready for a new career as a web designer? Do you enjoy designing sites for fun, for friends or as a hobby? Then, it might be time to start considering web design as a profession.

Whatever way you start – freelancing, at a company or as an intern – web design is a viable possibility if it’s something you love and enjoy. Passion is the hallmark of many successful web designers, but there are other factors involved too.

Your Website

Every web designer needs a website, including you. It’s the best way to showcase sites that you have designed for clients and broadcast your designer talent. An online portfolio with active linking samples gives potential customers an overview of what you can offer. A well-written ‘About’ page also provides a glimpse into the type of person you are, and indicates your individual style and approach.

Having your own blog to post articles showing your knowledge and understanding is a must have these days and can also lead to increased opportunity within the online community to write for other blog sites, known as guest blogging which helps build your ‘profile’.

Working Space

When starting out as a web designer, begin small. By working from a computer desk in a spare room or cornered space at home, expenses can be kept to a minimum. A lot of equipment isn’t required either. A PC, Mac and/or laptop, phone, design software and high speed Internet connection, plus the skills and know-how to find customers, build websites and manage your financial accounts are all that you need.

Designer Skills

In designing for the web, you can’t go far without creative drive, an eye for colour and a natural sense of design. Along with proficient use of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and a bit of Dreamweaver, knowing what works and what doesn’t, really helps. What may look great ‘offline’ may not be so functional ‘online’ to meet a client’s needs or business purpose.

Having an open mind and relaxed temperament is also ideal. This is particularly true when clients dislike a design and request changes you don’t agree with. Aside from expressing your ideas and discussing designs with customers, communicating well with other designers (if in a shared workplace) is also important.

Keep Learning

As a designer, it is vital to up-skill on a regular basis. This includes understanding the nuances of web browsers and updated versions of the software you use. While it isn’t necessary to learn code like Javascript or PHP, it is beneficial to have a foundation in XHTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). New skills can be picked up from guide books, enrolling on college courses or online resources, or by attending seminars.

In todays climate for jobs in the industry it is becoming more frequent for a web designer role to basically be advertised for someone who is also a front-end web developer, so improving your skills and demonstrating them in projects and your portfolio is key.

Design for the Web

Web design is one of the hardest skills to learn so value the work you do. Promote yourself from a professional standpoint. Whether it is in your physical appearance or presenting a formal proposal, showing your best will lead you towards the best clients and opportunities.

Building a reputation is invaluable in attracting new prospects over the long term. In the web design industry, this can take a bit of time and effort, but you can do it.

Mathew Porter has been in the Web Design / Development and Online Marketing industry for over 8 years, building a wide range of skills throughout his career in various roles. Whilst working for his Design and Marketing Agency, TWDG Ltd. Mathew also runs his own blog and web site.

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