If you think about all the skills that go into the creation of a web page, you’ll understand a bit better what a web designer needs to be successful. Web designers and web programmers have some of the same skills, and most web designers will need programming skills to create functioning web pages. Not only do web sites need to be visually appealing, they need to be dynamic environments capable of various functions.
Web designers are called upon to not only create visually stunning pages, but they might need to write code using HTML, XTML or CSS language. They will have to know what customers and web browsers want for that specific type of business model, which would involve learning marketing practices. Web designers will need to be flexible since each client might require a different skill set.
Web designers work in a variety of environments. They can be freelance designers working from their own home studio creating web sites for their clients, or they can work in a company that creates web sites and marketing campaigns for clients.
Designers need to keep up with the current internet trends that define good web pages. Page ranking, search functions and basic SEO are other skills that web designers need. While the level of education depends on the type of position and previous experience of the specific web designer, some basic classes are required of most designers.
Web Design Degrees
Web designers can follow a variety of educational paths. Web designers can be graphic designers with a Bachelors degree, which would require four years of college. They can be multimedia artists and animators with a Bachelors degree. Desktop publishers can create web pages and only require an associates degree. Webmasters create web pages and usually need an Associates degree in computer science. With the right background, some web designers might only need to obtain a certificate in Graphic Design and Illustration.
Web Design Classes
More important than the type of degree a web design student wants to pursue is the classes and skills they should learn. Whether the student will be a freelance web designer or work for a marketing or computer company, they will need to implement some computer skills in web site creation.
More and more, people think that they don’t need to learn internet languages, since there are so many drag-and-drop editors to help the casual web designer create their sites. These sites are limited in their capabilities, and the professional web designer needs to have advanced skills.
Behind the scenes of the web site is the language that dictates headings, paragraphs, and graphics. It’s a streamlined way to ensure the pages are acting correctly when viewed in different browsers and on computers running various software.
Cascading style sheets helps the web page flow correctly and makes it visually appealing. While HTML is the language that speaks to web pages, CSS is the colors, fonts and margins that define where the language should be placed. It’s the visual element of design.
PHP and MySQL
These are similar to HTML pages but are said to be more user-friendly and are easier when creating multiple pages. MySQL is a database system that can be used online, and is perfect for either small and large applications.
Often, web sites will need basic scripts to complete small tasks like a rollover image. Without this knowledge, web sites can lack this classic touch.
These classes will help develop skills required to create websites as well as convert audio and video into a visual medium through web site development.
Color Theory for Artists
This class helps students understand the basics of color and how to apply that knowledge in an artistic medium. This is important for web design because some color combinations will bother web visitors.
Typography and Layout
This helps students learn about imagery and the visualization of the language of web sites.
Specific design programs
Most schools will teach a few classes in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or equivalent programs that teach image manipulation, vector images, white space and layout.
Some designers are self-taught. For those students that want to pursue a career in web design, they may decide to teach themselves how to create and design web pages. In this case, they will need a strong work ethic, artistic ability and the right tools.
To get started, students can learn on free programs that are alternatives to the popular paid versions taught in universities. While it’s recommended by many professional web designers that eventually students buy and learn on the better programs, for a start there are free programs that can work very well.
This program is the most popular one for web developers. There are a few free alternatives for this program like Kompozer and Amaya for aspiring artists and developer who cannot afford the more expensive Dreamweaver.
Illustrator is how web designers create vector images, which are important for web graphics. Inkscape is a superior, free alternative to the popular Illustrator program. Many amateur designers use this program and there are hundreds of tutorials online for the self-taught, beginning designer.
Adobe Photoshop is used for photo enhancements, logo or other design creation. There are a few free alternatives like Gimp, which is an open source program with a lot of the same components as Photoshop. Paint.net can only be used with Windows operating systems but is a fair alternative to Photoshop.
Web Designer Salary Averages
The average web designer can follow a variety of career paths. Some companies will look past education to what the designer has created in the past. A portfolio of previous work is potentially more important than the type of degree that designer has. This is especially true for freelance or self-employed designers. They can set their own prices per client and per design if they wish and will need a proven track record and examples of their work to land clients. According to the Department of Labor, graphic designers make between $23 and $25 per hour. Freelance designers can charge upwards of $50 per hour depending on experience.