The web design services industry has grown significantly over recent years, driven by consumers’ rising adoption of smartphones, internet browsing and of course, COVID-19. Businesses and government entities are building and expanding their online presence, making now a great time to enter the web design market.
Whether you take on a career in web design full time or you choose to take advantage of the boom and treat web design as your second career, there are certain things to consider. Every web designer requires a particular set of industry-related technical and soft skills and the more you can hone these, the more successful you are likely to be.
Industry-related technical skills web designers should have
1. User experience
A website doesn’t just house content, information or products, it delivers the user an experience. How you design the website can be the difference between a positive or negative user experience (UX).
Making a website stand out from the others requires an emotional response from the user. This response will likely be made in the first few moments, which is why a website’s usability is so important. Get it wrong and the user will bow out before they’ve done any navigating.
The arrangement of text, images, video and other elements serve both an artistic and utilitarian purpose. Creating a good composition will boost the users’ experience when navigating around your site and will help mould a better design overall. A well-composed layout offers proportioned elements, contrast, alignment and negative space. It helps users to better understand the journey they should take within a website.
3. Graphic design
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to be a web designer, but website and graphic design share a similar creative space. Both require you to craft visuals as part of branding, supporting marketing objectives by improving the user experience. The more you understand graphic design the more you can use it to your advantage in design and communication.
4. Software knowledge
Like any craftsperson, you need to understand the tools you have available to deliver the best work. Software is continually evolving, so stay on top of new advances and trends and experiment with new ways of doing things. At the very least, master tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Sketch, which can take your web design to the next level.
5. HTML & CSS
You don’t have to be a coder to be a web designer but you do need to be familiar with HTML and CSS. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, which is the programming language used to put content on a web page. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and it is the coding language for formatting and styling HTML.
A type’s weight and geometry communicate meaning, and as a designer, it’s important to make appropriate typographical choices. Typography helps to make content attractive and it tells a story as much as the words themselves. It also impacts the readability of a website and the user experience.
7. Colour theory
Clashing colours is a mistake that plagues many web designers. Conflicting hues can render a design ugly and unreadable, which is why you should have a good understanding of colour theory. At the most basic level, the colour theory will help you to design through complementation, contrast and vibrancy – drawing a reader’s eye where you want it to go.
Soft skills web designers should have
Creativity is an important skill for web designers to have and it’s this creativity that gives you a unique point of difference. Creativity is the ability to come up with new and innovative ideas, bringing thoughts to life in a visual, narrative or auditory way. Creativity is something that comes from within and is generally not something that can be taught, however, learning to master your creativity via an online course is something worth considering.
As a web designer, you need to be an active listener to gain a clear understanding of your client’s goals. Once you’ve considered their needs, you’ll need to communicate your creative ideas in a way that non-designers understand. When building the website, messages need to be clear and understandable for the visitor and design must serve a clear purpose and be free of noise and clutter.
Web designers often have multiple projects on the go, requiring you to have good organisation skills. Being organised will help you to track the status of a project and plan the next steps in your workflow. Organisational skills will help you to break projects up into manageable tasks and manage several assignments at once.
Combining technical and soft skills
Multidimensional web designers who combine both technical skills and soft skills will be best prepared for the ever-evolving world of web design and development. No category is more important than the other – the magic happens when they both come together.
While technical skills are job-specific and are learned through work experience and training, soft skills refer to your ability to relate and work with others. Developing both will be your ticket to success in this creative field.