So, You Want to Become a Web Designer?
Alright, we get it…web designer is pretty much the coolest profession on the planet. Like, who wouldn’t want to be one?! We’re so glad that you’re interested. JOIN US!
Snapping back to reality – yes, we think web design is pretty cool. However, to many out there, it’s one of those nerdy professions. Not everyone wants to stare at lines of codes all day or speak in terms that make you sound like you are speaking a different language to the average person. It definitely takes a certain type of person to be interested in this field, but it does draw quite a few people anywhere from the artistic types to the binary code types.
Do you even code, Bruh?
Not everyone that says, “I want to make websites,” really knows what that means. Maybe we should start with asking what a “web designer” is. In my own opinion, it’s a made up job title that doesn’t exist. Some people will tell you that a web designer is someone that uses graphic design software (*cough* Photoshop) to make website designs and then passes it off to someone else to code. Other people will tell you that it’s someone that makes / codes websites. Neither one is really true in my experience.
If you want to be the person making graphical website mockups, you’re more than likely looking to be a Graphic Designer. Their responsibilities usually also include creating other graphic collateral such as banners, flyer, etc. These days, even Graphic Designers tend to know a little basic code or are at least familiar with WYSIWYG or Page Builder tools.
If you want to be the person coding the websites and bringing them to life, you’re really looking to become a Web Developer. Developers often take the graphical designs for sites and program them into actual functioning works. Also, developers are responsible for creating functionality and features on websites to make them interactive.
Job titles are confusing, but hopefully that explanation helps you better understand what your goals are. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you want to actually make websites and that you’re now interested in becoming a Web Developer.
Do you have what it takes?
Staring at lines of code all day and debugging problems is not a job that just anyone can enjoy. If you’ve never wanted to lose yourself in endless code for hours at time just to see what you can create, you’re probably not one of those people. To truly be good in this field it has to be a part of you and you just have to have that natural knack. No amount of education is going to teach you how to have passion for design or development. Without passion, this is a pretty dull and unrewarding career.
What’s your education worth?
Honestly, it doesn’t take a lot of expensive degrees to be a good Web Developer. I’m self-taught and some of the best devs I know are, as well. I’m not against going to college for this field, but I promise you that it won’t prepare you for the real world demands of being a Web Developer. There are actually a lot of online courses and programs you can take that are specifically bent around coding that would give you a much more solid foundation. If your goal is to seriously gain some knowledge instead of just having something to look good on the resume, I highly recommend looking into those.
What do you know about the industry?
Designing and creating a website just because you like how it looks might be fun, but it’s not going to win you customers. Your job as a Web Developer is to design and code sites that serve a purpose and that actually perform to meet your client’s goals. That means you have to have an understanding of how people use websites. It’s all about user experience and user interface on top of an understanding of people in general. Once you design something, you also have to know if it’s performing. How do you do that? Welcome to the world of analytics and tracking.
This industry is constantly changing. Technology replaces itself at a rapid pace. You have to keep up with ongoing changes in the industry to stay relevant. Furthermore, you have to know how all of the related fields around Web Development interact with your job role and how you’re affecting those areas as well.
I run into this problem all of the time. Someone calls me up and says something along the lines of my sister’s neighbor’s kid that’s home from college made this website for me. Why are they calling me? Because, ultimately they know that their website isn’t effective. I don’t blame the college kid for that. He just learned some HTML and CSS code and thought making websites was easy. Sometimes, people make themselves bargain basement websites on builders like Wix and it turns out to be the same situation. That’s because it might look good to you, but it’s not built for functionality. Or, you had no idea what Search Engine Optimization is, so you have a beautiful website that no one can find.
What Do I Have to Do?
So, what does it really take to be a good Web Developer? Be passionate. Love what you do. Have a desire to continue on your own. Have a thirst for knowledge. Understand your clients and their audience. Be prepared to get at least a basic understanding of related fields.
If you’re seriously considering getting into this field, I would highly recommend searching online for a local web developer at a reputable agency and reaching out to them. I’ve had local students interview me. I’ve had people just reach out with questions. Don’t be shy. We’re all a bunch of geeks that are just cheesily happy that someone is actually interested in what we do. We’ll give you some great advice that might give you a big head start in this complicated ever-changing world of tech. My last bit of advice is to just go for it – you’ve gotta start somewhere!