The creation of websites is more than just design and programming. Due to developments in the field, technological advances, new requirements and new user profiles, the production system for the Internet has become more complex, requiring the acquisition of new skills. Web designer AJ lists the Thirteen most important skills that every web designer should have:
1. writing and editing
The most important skill in any design field is communication. In this sense, the ability to clearly express ideas both verbally and in writing is a great asset and more valuable than a trick or two in Photoshop. Clear and effective writing helps designers develop themselves as professionals and allows them to help their clients build their brands online. A good choice of words is also the starting point for usability: choosing the right words to identify the content, indicating the area of the website where the user is, or naming the content.
Moreover, the search engines that index the website are also text consumers. A well-organized, well-structured content is more likely to achieve a good position on the search results page than a disorganized content.
2. The overall design
Basically, this means looking at a problem from a different perspective. Designing for the web is not a simple and mechanical task of transferring content to a new medium. If we want a website to function as an interactive communication tool, we need to put ourselves in the user’s shoes and really think about what kind of content would interest them and how it should be presented.
All designers have the common vice of loving (at first) and hating (later) their own work. Therefore, you need to be able to distance yourself from your own creations and make a more realistic analysis. The overall concept cannot be learned in a course, but requires a certain amount of training by observing others and seeing what they do in front of the computer.
3. The theory of design
Many designers tend to underestimate the conceptual and theoretical contribution of design theory. They see it as a set of abstract principles that contribute little to something as “new and dynamic” as web design. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the web, where the graphic part is fundamental, the basic principles of design theory need to be reconsidered beyond visual skill or eye candy: Composition, balance, proportion, color, contrast, and reading flow.
The second level is then about the more specific aspects that set the stage for design: Typography, image manipulation, 3D, and the various resources used to implement the design. Both levels are important: the most general one is used to organize, clarify and make known the information; the second level is used to refine and complete it so that the product looks unique and attractive. But be careful: if we don’t handle the general aspects of design well, we can rarely make beautiful decorative objects.
4 Listening and discernment
The designer’s self-perception is a complex issue. Many believe that his years of training and experience give him a superior position over his clients, who do not appreciate his creative skills and obsession with achieving perfection in every pixel. They may have their reasons, but never underestimate our customers, who have usually been in business for many years and know their market better than we do. The basic rule is therefore very simple: listen.
Every company has its own needs. Experience and knowledge of the environment help the designer to see where he needs to pay special attention to the instructions he receives and where he can provide innovation with his personal touch. But one must always keep in mind that these great designs, these bold and innovative proposals that set trends, have very clear goals and work hard to achieve them.
Optimizing web pages so that they can be found by search engines is an important part of web design today. In addition, almost no one would hire a designer who can’t do this. Keep in mind that there are marketing and search engine experts who are 100% dedicated to search engine optimization, so we don’t compete with them in our work, but we need to be able to replenish ourselves and understand that when we are asked to include certain keywords in certain places with a precise set of tags, it’s not a whim, but a need that we must meet. And, if we don’t work with experts, we should at least be able to create a site with the right level of optimization to allow search engines to index the site and provide clear descriptions on the search results page.
7. graphic ideas
Why does this skill rank so low on the list? Because you can create a good website by following design theory without the need to be creative. We can create an efficient and functional website without having to revolutionize the design field. Yes, an innovative and original proposal can enhance our work, make it recognizable and improve the quality of our services, but first we must ask ourselves if the website we want to develop really needs it.
Google, eBay and Wikipedia are all websites with very simple and plain designs that work. However, if we want to make an impression (on our customers rather than the end user of the site), we often have to polish the lights to create a dazzling image.
8. Creating websites with HTML/CSS
Long ago, the idea of a web designer who couldn’t write HTML code was simply absurd. However, with the advent of visual design tools that automatically generate code (Dreamweaver), and a plethora of companies that specialize in converting Photoshop designs to HTML and CSS, this need is no longer so obvious.
For my part, I believe that knowledge of HTML and CSS is essential to devote to web design in a more or less professional manner. But this knowledge alone does not guarantee that one knows how to create good web pages. knowledge of HTML and CSS not only allows us to create code for websites, but also helps us to develop a mindset that allows us to organize and work with design elements, even if we are not ultimately responsible for the code. And it allows us to make changes or updates to our designs without relying on one person or one program.
9. Commercial awareness
Creating websites is a business. Whether we work as freelancers, in small or large companies, or part-time, the fact is that we want to make money from this activity. Therefore, it is important to understand how the market works, how businesses operate, and how to make sound business decisions. A large part of this knowledge is given by common sense, although it is also interesting to meet people in the area through friends, clubs or events and learn from people with more experience.
If we knew nothing about business and could only focus on one thing, it would be marketing. Creating things that people want so they will choose our products or services over others. Once we have achieved this, we need to manage the money and make a list of income and expenses to see if our work is worthwhile.
A web designer spends most of his time behind a keyboard. Although technology has come a long way, there is still no better way to type large amounts of text than with a keyboard. While graphics and image-editing programs are mostly mouse-driven, designers have to write about many other activities: creating a budget, sending emails, coding in HTML, CSS, PHP or another language, creating a report or filling out an online form.
No, you don’t have to be an expert in online marketing to be a web designer. However, it is important for a web designer to understand how online marketing works, and more importantly, how different types of graphics work in different situations.
From graphics for social media, to images for supporting content, to infographics, to online advertising, online marketers will have a variety of visual requirements. Knowing what kind of images are required and how to create images that are better than your competitors will give you an edge over other designers.
12. Time Management
In addition to project management, designers need to become experts in time management. Given that many designers now work remotely (and may do so in the near future), managing your time is more important than ever.
In order to properly manage your time, it is important to know when you are most creative and productive. If you work during these times, you can greatly increase your productivity and output without increasing your working hours.
It is also crucial to understand how to break down large projects into smaller tasks and work steadily on them, rather than waiting until the last minute or tackling too many things in too short a time frame.
13. Creative thinking
The ability to think creatively is essential for designers. The ability to approach design problems from a creative perspective makes designers more valuable and employable.
The ability to think creatively can be developed in a number of ways. One of the best ways, however, is to simply practice. Think of creativity as a muscle. If this muscle is not used, it atrophies and becomes powerless. However, with regular use, you can strengthen your creative thinking skills.