Web Design as a Profession – Is it Really Worth all the Effort?
Let me answer the question right from the onset itself. Yes, it really is worth all the effort that you put into it. If you have a creative streak in you, it makes sense for you to explore avenues of turning that creativity into a profession. If you have a hand and an eye for design, there is no reason why you cannot and shouldn’t become a website designer. After all, website designing is a big business these days and will remain so for a long time to come.
Understanding the Creative Construct
Design is creation. There is no going away from this fact. Whatever the web technology available for use, you must have imagination to create designs that work. If you are thinking about becoming a web designer, the first question that you must answer honestly is why do you want to be a designer?
Now, there are many reasons why you might want to become one:
- You love the art of creation
- You think it will make for a successful profession
- You don’t really like it but are doing it just because others say it’s a good thing to get into it.
Let’s take a closer look at the first reason. Creation and how you create something is subjective. You might like your creation but others might not look at it favorably. In terms of website designing, you must create a website seen through the prism of your target audience. You need to know what they will appreciate and accordingly create an online presence.
This, as can be imagined, might limit your creative space. Are you willing to shackle your creativity for bringing forth websites that are audience oriented? Ask yourself this question and only then think about becoming a web designer.
It’s not that you will need to leash your creative spirit, but designing a website is a profession, wherein you are creating websites for somebody else. It’s what they think about the website design that matters. If they have firm opinions on how you must handle their designs, you will need to create keeping their (client) expectations in mind.
The Technical Construct
In the early days of website designing, there were plenty of designers who were self-taught. They had the time to get the hang of the web technologies at their disposal and put this learning into practice. They kept adding to their learning, by working on new projects, challenging their skill sets and discovering newer and better ways of creating great websites.
Contemporary website designers can’t learn on the job. They don’t have time to learn designing technologies on their own. Make no mistake, they can do that and the kind of resources available for learning, makes this task simpler. But there are plenty of institutes coming up offering courses in Adobe Photoshop, HTML, CSS, PHP etc. and companies and clients want their designers to have a certificate of learning these technologies with them.
Trust is something that is in short supply these days, and nobody is going to trust your abilities if you say you have learnt your web designing skills at home. If you want to make this your profession, get expert help to learn the basic web design technologies. Learn from the experts, but don’t just depend on them to become a skilled hand at designing websites.
Learning never stops in designing, once you have a solid base behind you, you will have the capability to learn the use of the latest technologies yourself.
Understanding the Market Construct
So, now that you have decided to become a website designer and you have the skill sets to get you started, it’s time that you understood the market, if you haven’t already done so. If you are hunting for a job, apply to the website designing companies who are respected names in the domain. If you are prepared to move out of the city you are living in, apply across the country. When you get a call from a company, give it your best shot. Once you join a company, you will be all set for a web designing career.
But what if you want to start off on your own, you want to open your own business. Well, first understand your local market and its demand. Also get an idea of the competition, the big players and the smaller ones. Get to know about the projects they have worked on and if possible get an idea about their marketing strategy. Build a website, promote it and see where you stand. Start off with small projects to get the hang of designing websites and then progress onto the bigger ones.
Remember, if you are starting your own business, work will be hard to find initially. But, slowly and surely you need to keep at building your reputation on the market. Integrate a blog on your website and write on various topics related to website design. Identify the problems that potential clients are going to suffer and solve these problems through your write ups. Do a bit of guest blogging on high authority sites to build up a reputation as an expert; and have an active social media profile. What you are essentially doing through all this is marketing your name amongst your target audience, and improving your visibility.
Work will come, only when your potential customers begin to trust you.
Understanding the Client Construct
Whether you are working for a company or have your own web design firm, it’s important to understand that it’s the clients show all the way. They come to you with certain specific requirements and they want their website to achieve a specific set of goals. You can suggest some ideas that will improve the concept they have in mind or work together to work out a concept that helps them achieve their goals; but at the end of the day, the clients’ word is final. You can show them the way, but they have a final say in deciding whether a particular kind of website works for them or not.
As a designer, you need to learn the fine art of convincing clients. You need to be able to tell them what is right and what is wrong and you need to be able to explain it to them; this needs to be done in a manner that is simple and easy to understand. This way you will be able to get your point across clearly and who knows, you might be able to design the way you want the website to be designed.
All the things mentioned above, will require a lot of effort out of you, but if you stick at it, the dividends that you reap will be tremendous. Both at a financial level and at a more personal level, the business of website designing can be a very satisfying one. So, no reason why you shouldn’t put in the effort needed.
Pete Juratovic is the Strategic Director and founder of Clikzy Creative, a website design company in Washington, DC. Clikzy Creative also offers fashion website design, search engine optimization, and many other services.