Website designers are often concerned about their tangible skills, like hardcore Photoshop skills or a mastery of jQuery. However, becoming successful in the field of web design requires more than just having the right equipment or a wonderful grip on design. There are some very important things that any aspiring web designer should keep in mind when you're building your professional repertoire. We'll also provide a useful "reading list" for where you can get more in-depth information.
Intro: Getting Some Perspective
Apart from making an eye-catching web design and balancing a huge amount of information, the challenge that web designers face involves effectively managing their professional careers. The job of a web designer does not end at building websites that look good; you also have to manage all of the things that combine to form a successful business. From planning and execution to marketing and communication, a web designer has to be astute as well as professional at every step taken.
Being truly successful requires a set of characteristics and traits... some of which you might already have, some of which you might be neglecting. These are things that cannot be obtained quickly by reading books or sitting in a classroom; Rather, many of these are skills that take time and experience to cultivate. In my opinion, these are priceless tips that, when applied over time, will help you attain success in the web world.
As a web design professional, following tips will help you turn yourself into a ‘web design rockstar’:
Tip 01: Effective Communication Skills
Effective communication is one of those skills that can make or break you in any field, but it's especially important in web design where communicating with a client, art director, or developer can dictate the success of a project. It is quite understandable that creative souls are not intuitively chatty in nature; However, when it comes to presenting yourself and selling your work, one has to be bold and clear in his communication with the client. You need to be able to speak intelligently about your design choices – why you chose them and how your design choice is the right one for their business. Also, a lot of small disputes can be resolved easily if you are good at communicating. So, communicate and communicate well, in order to survive and be successful.
Tip 02: Be Able to Sell Yourself
It’s a small world, and from a web designer’s perspective, it's also a jungle. Web designers face as many competitors as a forty-niner during the gold rush... and only the fittest will survive. In order to make yourself stand out from the competition, you need to let people know about yourself and your skills. Designers are usually humble in nature, however, when it comes to professional success, you’ll have to elbow your way to the top and mark your presence. There are a number of ways you can do so. Word of mouth marketing, social media marketing and even business card marketing can work well. However, if you prefer to sit back in your cozy chair and wait for the clients to know you and come to you, then you are doomed!
Tip 03: Plan Before You Design
While many designers approach projects with a "wait for inspiration to happen" kind of attitude, but the fact is that just a little bit of planning can help that inspiration come a lot more quickly. As such, it's important to plan and research well before going into the web designing process. Planning can be further divided into three parts:
- Researching about the client’s company
- Asking the client what he wants and expects from the web
- Pondering upon what his competitors are doing and the related industry trends
Make a sketch of the website in your mind and then put it on the paper (if possible). Although planning is a hectic and less interesting process (and so many designers are inclined to skip it), pre-design planning saves your time, money and resources the best. You can read more about "design planning" here.
Tip 04: Evaluate Your Own Work and Get Feedback
The cycle of a web design project ends at evaluation and analysis of your designed work. Being able to accept and implement feedback effectively is an important trait of the creative professionals. Like all other aforementioned factors, having a good eye in pointing out mistakes in your own work is a quality that success-oriented web designers should possess. The web designers should act as a devil’s advocate and judge the success of their website being in the target audience’s shoes. Furthermore, taking some time to have other people check your work for mistakes will go a long ways as well. You can read more about the importance of feedback in Brandon's article on the subject.
Tip 05: Be a Web Designer, Not a Graphic Designer
It is a general misconception that graphic designers, owing to their computer graphics skills, can also be web designers and vice versa. While this might be true in theory, there are very few professionals that bridge the gap between print-based projects and web-based projects on a regular basis.
The reality is that web designing is a completely separate field of designing, having its own flare and expertise. These are two different mediums and so the target audience and objectives of a websites are entirely different from a piece of graphic design. There is always the possibility that a graphic designers advances to the level of a web designer once he learns certain technical skills, but it's important not to assume that a rockstar graphic designer will instantly be successful when designing for the web. For the success of your web business, you should commit yourself to the field of web designing and specialize yourself in it.
Tip 06: Up-Date Yourself With New Technology
The world of computer technology changes almost every day, and to keep pace with it, a web designer needs to be technologically in tune with the changes in the industry. Slice out a segment of your work-day or week and dedicate it to learning new things in your field. Find out what's new, what's trending, and what's falling to the wayside. If you don’t want to see your competitors take away your business by appearing to be newer and fresher than you, pay heed to this tip.