Over the years I’ve had people ask me about what skills they’d need to become a successful web designer, so today I thought I’d go into just that. Although the 10 skills I’m about to list aren’t by any means exhaustive, web design and development can branch out into many different specialties after all, they are good steps in the right direction. You’ll also notice that quite a few of these skills are also geared towards non-technical things; these are known as “Soft Skills” and they can be incredibly useful whatever your chosen career is.
1. HTML (HYPERTEXT MARKUP LANGUAGE)
2. CSS (CASCADING STYLE SHEETS)
CSS are the “rules for presentation” for a website. This will dictate what font is used where, what colour something is, even the alignment of text and images. Like HTML, CSS is fairly easy to learn and can be considered the skin/clothes to HTML’s skeleton.
4. VISUAL DESIGN
Heading more into Web Design territory now, a basic understanding of good graphic design will help you to visualise what a website will look like, so you can use the previous skills to build it. This is a broad range of knowledge to have, from typography to layouts but an incredibly useful skill to have.
5. USER EXPERIENCE (UX)
This is a bit more niche than the all-encompassing Visual Design skill, having a good sense for UX can be invaluable for making or breaking a website. UX is all about getting into the heads of your website’s visitors and experiencing what they will be feeling. This comes down to things like meaningful navigation or the way information is accessed and how it flows. Building wireframes and site maps are key components to the UX skillset.
6. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)
Now, I’ve written a few posts on SEO and why it’s good for your website, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But, I will say that learning SEO basics will help your career as a web designer/developer enormously. UX may indeed help people whilst on your website, but how are you going to get them there if they can’t find you? SEO is also a great niche to drill down into and can even be a credible specialty if digital marketing is more your thing.
7. DESIGN SOFTWARE
Having a good grasp of design software packages, such as the ones offered through Adobe’s Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator etc.) will give you a solid leg-up over the competition. Using this software you can use your Visual Design & UX skills in unison as you create mock-ups of websites, wireframing as you go and putting together assets such as professional images for the website. Side note: if you go down the freelance route, having good knowledge of design software will make you more valuable as it opens up more ways to increase your pricing by supplying a client with professional images instead of relying on them to.
As we begin going through the “soft skills”, communication skills are definitely key. Good communication skills will take you far in life, and not just as a web designer. Being able to clearly and concisely get your point across to your client will be a huge benefit to your career as a web designer as they will also be appreciative of regular, meaningful updates on the project, explanations for design choices etc. Having good communication skills also may come in handy if you’re wanting to earn a little extra money and write copy for the website, too.
9. TIME MANAGEMENT
Time Management is also an important soft skill to have because it’s always useful to be able to keep on top of your projects, no matter what they are. It’s even a good idea to use this skill to find the time to do even more learning and stay ahead of the trends in your current field. Utilising tools such as Kanban boards and calendar apps will all help you with your time management and productivity, ensuring a smooth process throughout. And keeping things smooth will give you tremendous peace of mind.
10. BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
A basic understanding in business management is key, especially if you’re wanting to branch out as a freelancer and start your own agency (much like I did!). Learning about business finances and pricing models will help you out in the long run and having a steady business plan in place will ensure you are successful.
So there you have it, 10 valuable skills to work on in order to become a successful web designer. If you have any questions about these skills, or would just like to chat about web design then please feel free to contact us and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as we can. Take care!