12 Technical Skills For a Web Designer
Web design is an incredibly popular and lucrative profession. As businesses are moving online, the demand for web design professionals is going up quickly. Organizations depend on their online storefronts to boost the bottom line, and customer expectations are high when it comes to interacting with professional websites.
Web design expectations have evolved significantly over the last decade—with many companies expecting their web designers to be masters of multiple coding languages, graphic design, digital strategy, and more.
The website design process naturally includes tasks that require programming skills and knowledge in site usability. These “hard skills” are a must-have for any web designer.
HyperText Markup Language serves as the foundation for almost all websites and remains the most vital skill to learn for web design. Even if you use a content management system or a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, understanding HTML allows you to control your workflow and work outside of these editors whenever necessary.
4. Content Management Systems
Take WordPress for example, one of the most popular CMS options used by web developers for both personal sites and businesses. It’s a free site framework that’s usable by anyone from the beginner to the experienced designer. It’s worth knowing how to use the “block editor” in WordPress and expand the functionality using plugins.
5. Other Design Applications
Depending on the client’s needs, you might need experience in image processing programs such as Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Illustrator. There’s also an interactive wireframing tool called Mockplus that can help with prototyping pages.
6. Web Server Management
No matter how robust a company’s servers may be, issues and downtime are inevitable. While the web designer likely won’t need to work on the back-end, knowing about the basic functions of a web server could help you resolve issues more quickly.
7. Online Marketing
Business sites are mostly about making sales, so they typically find web designers with some awareness of copywriting. Being able to get the message across in a succinct way will help to inform and engage potential clients. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) leads into this skill. It goes without saying that web design and SEO are heavily connected. To secure new leads in the vast ocean of Google search results, a web designer may have to use keywords, improve page load speeds, boost domain credibility, and provide regular page updates to rank the site highly.
8. Responsive Design
Making a webpage responsive is all about accessibility. Many visitors will only stick around for a short time, so you want to make sure the menus, text, and buttons are clear and usable throughout the page. Responsive design includes optimizing the website to run well. It’s incredibly common for a visitor to click off if the site takes too long to load. Company sites must also be mobile-friendly, as many users browse on a smartphone or tablet nowadays. Web designers must accommodate their layouts to support a wide variety of screen sizes and resolutions.
9. User Experience (UX)
The user experience is everything today. According to Forrester, every $1 invested in UX can translate into $100 in ROI. Web design involves fine-tuning the user experience. That is, you need to make the page enjoyable to use and navigate. Unclutter the layout and intuitively organize the page in a logical fashion. UX also requires you to tailor your design to a specific target audience.
10. User Interface (UI)
While UX focuses on the broad aspects of web page design, UI deals with the specific aspects of how users interact with the site. When one thinks of the UI, one usually considers the buttons and menus that make up the navigation. These come together to form a consistent experience and a straightforward interface. Do not forget to add a prompt and an obvious call to action.
11. Graphic Design
Graphic design is fundamentally a separate job from web design, but professionals in both fields often work with each other. Web designers handle the programming, while graphic designers generate visuals to communicate the right ideas. If you never used Adobe Lightroom before this might be a real game changer. Why? Because it can use thousands of presets to instantly enhance any photo. The easiest way to get started is to download a bundle of lightroom presets and follow a few basic guidelines to apply them to your photos.
12. Color Theory
The way a page aesthetically looks greatly impacts how a visitor perceives the business. Even if a web designer does not specialize in graphic design, it’s still worth learning how to use complementary and contrasting colors effectively. For instance, when should you use light colors and dark colors? How can you tweak the contrast and saturation in ways that make the site look more appealing?