How to Become a Web Designer
Web designers are responsible for creating and maintaining a website, which can be an online presence for a business or a personal website. Web design covers a variety of disciplines and skills in the creation and management of sites. The different disciplines of web design cover web graphic design; web user interface design; content writing, including standardised coding and proprietary applications; website authoring, including creation of the layout and appearance of the site; and keyword and title management.
Web developers and graphic designers need to collaborate with one another to create a successful website. The interaction of web designers and developers is the backbone of any web site development project. A successful web designer will have the technical knowledge of the technology behind a website and the marketing skills to promote it effectively on the internet. They will also have to have a thorough understanding of the customer needs.
On a basic level web designers are concerned with the overall layout of the web page. In addition they will be responsible for selecting the web development technologies that best suit their client’s needs. The developer then uses these technologies and HTML code to construct a webpage. Web developers use a variety of programs and scripting languages to build websites from scratch as well as using pre-existing templates and codes.
Web designers work closely with usability experts and user research professionals to develop a website that meets the expectations of its users. User research is a critical part of the problem solving process and is usually conducted before, during and after the development process. Users are usually asked to complete questionnaires detailing their requirements and preferences. The results of this user research are used to construct the website.
There are two schools of thought within the web design industry concerning the methods of web designers. Some web designers believe in “design by committee” while other schools of thought advocate “user research.” Most user research oriented web designers believe that their job is primarily a function of market research. Market research is used to understand what type of information the user needs, where the user is looking for information, what their needs are, how the user navigates the site, etc. Once a market research list is generated, the web designer can start building the site.
Many web designers believe that usability is not an important part of the web design process. They feel that if the website is easy to navigate and works well on all machines that it does not matter what the user feels about it. Although usability is not a part of the problem solving process it is very important to the end product. Many web designers will spend considerable time fixing the technical side of the website before they begin to focus on usability.
There is a popular belief among web designers that web pages have to be “correctly” aligned. This is known as “alignment”. When a web designer is creating a web page, they will make sure that the alignment is “correct”. In fact, they are so preoccupied with “aligning” things that they don’t even bother to try and make the web page “right”.
One of the biggest problems that web designers run into is the use of “white space”. White space is just blank space and web developers love to fill it with all sorts of things such as flash, Java, logos, and images. However, when these things are inserted into a web page they can conflict with the other colors or text in the page and often cause the web page to run slower. It is up to the web designer to make sure that everything is added in correctly, no matter what it is.