A web designer is a person who designs various types of websites, helping people to sell their products, services, or information. Essentially, a designer’s work is the visual embodiment of certain ideas or business ideas using computer programs.
A designer does not draw whatever he wants, he solves a specific problem. A designer does not draw as he pleases, he uses the experience gained by others. A designer is not an artist, he does not have to be able to draw, although this skill can help.
About the profession
To make it clearer to you how exactly the design process takes place, let’s consider it in the simplest scheme: designer-client. Stages:
- Communication with the client: you are approached with a request to make a website. You divide your communication into three main parts:
- financial: how payment will be made, prepayment/postpayment, choice of the payment system, hourly payment or fixed amount, etc.
- technical: choosing a graphic editor (determines which output file you will transfer after finishing work), technical requirements from the designer/programmer, adaptive design for different devices (desktop, tablet and smartphone), etc.
- meaningful, but also the main one: getting to know the client and his case, the main problem, and goal that the site solves, the technical task from the client himself (choice of the site structure, visual components), restrictions, example sites, etc.
- Estimate: after negotiations, you estimate the amount of work in hours, while receiving an exact or approximate cost.
- Work on paper: an important stage not only for beginners, but also for experienced designers. With the help of a pencil and paper, you can sketch out the main blocks/pages of the site. This makes the next step faster.
- Work in a graphic editor: you completely draw the site using the tools of a consistent graphic program.
- Edits: there are almost always, this is normal and you should not be afraid of it. The client can request both to correct certain details of the layout and to completely redo some blocks or pages.
- Design approval, receiving payment, sending design files.
Of course, this process is very different for large projects, as well as designers who work in studios or large corporations. But it will give you an understanding of what you will encounter in the first days of real work.
You can acquire web design skills on your own or with the help of preparatory courses. At the beginning of my journey, I chose the second.
Studying at courses
Courses can be a very good start to the profession, but they will never 100% give you all the knowledge you need. You will always have to search, read, watch, learn and work independently. For example, at the moment, for almost all such courses, the entry threshold is knowledge of one or more graphic editors.
Courses can be divided into online and offline. The difference is significant. For people who do not have a parallel job, I advise you to choose offline courses. Why:
- Develop more responsibility for the result: you go to the audience, making efforts at the same time; show your first works to real people, see their reactions and emotions.
- Closer contact with the teacher: again, personal communication, the opportunity to live discuss issues that interest you, ask for help, get feedback.
- Quick entry into the design community: there is a good chance that you, as a newcomer, may be noticed and offered an internship at the company. Also, subject to successful completion of the courses, you will receive a teacher’s recommendation. A recommendation from a real person who works in the same city carries much more weight than from an online character.
Online courses have their advantages:
Possibility to choose an individual study schedule. If you work or study at the same time, this is your salvation.
The opportunity to learn from top designers. If this niche is not developed in your city, then finding decent courses is a whole problem. Instead, the online mode knows no geographical boundaries.
Well, the most important advantage of any paid courses in principle is that you pay your own money for them. And this can be a guarantee that you won’t relax and give up on your studies halfway through.
How to choose a course?
- Pay attention to the requirements
Do not neglect the information about the course, all conditions must be 100% suitable. This refers to your input knowledge and certain skills. For example, if the terms and conditions say that you must know Photoshop or Figma, be prepared to learn it before the course starts. Or if the required skills list basic drawing ability, you should be able to do that. Also, courses can be divided by level: for beginners or practicing designers.
See reviews of the school and teacher online, ask for advice and opinions from designers you know. It is also important to look at the teacher’s work, try to evaluate the general style, and the success of the projects. I do not advise you to choose a teacher who is too famous or busy with several other jobs. Such a person has a minimum of time, and when she is not giving lectures or conducting practical classes, she is completely unavailable.
Adequate web design courses should last between three and six months. During this time, you can learn the basics that will allow you to start a career in this field. If less, you simply won’t have time to learn the material and get enough practice. If it is more, they are trying to make money on you, deliberately stretching the schedule of classes.
In 2017, the courses cost me $500. At this point, the justified price for the course will amount from $300 to $1,000. In other cases, you will overpay either for the duration or for the famous name of the school or teacher, which may not give anything in practice.
- Training program
The course program must be publicly available so that you can assess what real knowledge you will be able to gain during training. In addition, assess the level of training and the ratio of theory and practice. It is during homework and practical lessons that you will get the skills you need for work.
- Online lessons
We live in a very cool time, when you can find videos on YouTube about almost any topic. There are an incredible number of good channels on which free video lessons help you get acquainted with the field of design and IT, get the necessary skills in almost all graphic editors. I recommend starting with Figma or Sketch (if you have a Mac), mastering Adobe Photoshop and basic knowledge of Adobe Illustrator. This will be enough to start learning web design.
- Time management at a minimum
I decided to focus separately on the topic of managing my time. It was the constant lack of time, the inability to properly plan one’s workload by day and basic laziness that prevented 70% of my fellow students from starting work in this profession. Of course, among them there were those who realized that this field was not his vocation. But most simply lacked the patience and persistence to achieve their goals.
My advice to become one of the best web designers:
- Look for opportunities, not excuses.
How many times have I heard from everyone: “I didn’t have time, I’m stuck at work”, “I didn’t do it because I’m raising a child, and you know it’s not easy”, “I didn’t do it, it’s a difficult period” . Then why go to the courses at all? If you are not 100% sure that you can dedicate at least 2 hours a day to this activity, don’t even start.
- Clear time frame
Make it a rule that, for example, three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from 18:00 to 20:00 you do web design. And set aside the next three months for it. No one and nothing should distract you from this lesson during these two hours, and postponement is possible only for emergency reasons. Treat it immediately as work, not as something frivolous.
- Phone and food – to the side
Before classes, be sure to eat, solve all your affairs and put your phone away, and better yet, put it on airplane mode. Nothing should distract you. We all know how little time can be spent constantly sitting on social networks or replying to friends on the messenger. This also applies to the surrounding environment, if we are talking about independent learning – it is best done alone.
- Plan for each lesson
Before starting independent study, make a plan. The more detailed it is, the better. For example, with links to videos and articles. If it’s homework, try to do it as well as possible. When I went to courses, I always tried to do more than what was assigned to me, to find some interesting idea or to work on details.
- The fight against laziness
Lin is very insidious, it is ready to come to us at any moment. And our task is to drive her with all our might. Remember one thing: “Doing because of strength” is normal. This does not mean that this activity is not yours. Unfortunately, our brains are designed to conserve energy, and learning requires a lot of it. This is why it is so difficult for us to learn, remember and use skills for the first time.
Results: 5 mast heaves and you are now a Junior Designer
- Understand that the main purpose of a designer’s work is to help people solve a problem, not creativity for creativity’s sake.
- Know the main graphic editors (Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator…) and be able to use their tools.
- Knowledge of web design theory: UX/UI, typography and grids, color theory, composition and organization of sites and interfaces, trends.
- General knowledge of layout: HTML and CSS and understanding of how sites and applications work.
- The first works in the portfolio.
I recently wrote an extensive list of topics that a beginner UX/UI designer should know . This includes web design. Later, this list turned into a full-fledged free course. This is a great opportunity for beginners! It was this kind of concentration of the necessary information that I lacked when I started. That’s why I recommend for familiarization!