Becoming a Web Designer: What to Study

Many of you may be interested in a career as web designer, but you might not have any idea where to start. What you study is important because it sets the tone for your future. Being a designer means you have a good grasp of certain skills that are specific to the field, such as software, principles and techniques that are standard in the industry. Having excellent visual skills like layout, typography, colour and formatting will give you a great head start on the road to becoming a web designer.

Web Designer vs. Web Developer

So how do you determine if you want to be designer or a developer? First, you need to assess you skill set. What do you enjoy doing more? What type of things do you see yourself doing at your first job? The main difference between them is that one push pixels to solve problems, while the other uses code. Being a developer is a very technical skill with limited creativity. A designer’s job requires a lot of originality and inspiration when creating layouts and designs. You need to experiment to find out where your strengths lie. There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself, but you have to discover the answers for yourself.

School will give you a good direction in terms of which path you want to pursue. What are you more comfortable doing? Some will start down one path and eventually switch because it may not have been what they expected. If you get your hands dirty with both disciplines, you’ll eventually figure out what you were meant to do.

Freelance or Agency?

Deciding whether you want to work at an agency of full-time freelance can have an impact on what type of courses you take. For those web designers who are looking to get into freelancing, it is important you also take general business courses such as marketing, economics, entrepreneurial skills and communication skills. These courses will be fundamental to your success later on in your career. If you want to work at an agency, then taking the basic web design courses will help you in landing a job after you graduate. At many web design agencies, they will be willing to teach you more than what is taught at web design school.

Some Common Misconceptions

-I need to know everything to be successful
This is not true. There are some web designers that are very good at both aspects (designing and development), but these types of individuals are very rare. It is better to specialize in one or two areas, but have a working knowledge of other aspects to help with the overall process. Salt Creative portfolio

-I need to be good at art to get into a design program
Although some design schools require a portfolio, it doesn’t mean they are expecting to see phenomenal work. After all, you are applying to design school to become better. Many design schools are looking for potential.

-All I really need to know is the software
There are many other practical things that web designers need to know like time management, organizational skills, ability to communicate ideas, creativity and originality and marketing knowledge. Without some of these skills, it will be hard to get a web design job after graduation or land clients as a freelancer.

Keep Yourself Up-to-Date

Although whatever you study at school will give you a good start, you’ll never learn everything you need to know right out of school. Keeping up to date with the industry is important for your career and your ability to maintain a job. There are many websites that can help you stay current with the industry.

Deciding what to study to become a web designer will depend on whether you want to be more of a designer, or a developer. Whatever path you choose, there is no short answer to what you should study. What you do need to know is how to build and design functional and effective websites. It’s not as hard as it seems, but it does take time and effort to become good.


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