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How to Become A Web Designer

This article provides an overview of Web designer careers and the requirements to become a Web designer. This article will outline a Web Designer's job duties, salary levels, and employment prospects, as well as discuss the necessary skills, training, educational requirements, and certification requirements.

Web Designer Job Duties

A Web designer may be known by many titles, such as Web Programmer, Web Developer, Internet or Intranet developer, and sometimes even the title Web master is applied to Web Designers. Whatever the title, Web designers are responsible for day-to-day web site creation and design. Web designers are a combination of graphic designers or artists, and technical computer programmers. They work with all of the elements of a web site, text, images, graphics, and more, to come up with functional, interesting, and user-friendly web site designs.

Most Web designers are found in information technology departments, but they may also be found in marketing, and graphics departments as well. The job duties of a Web designer can include:

  • Working with other corporate departments and organizations, such as marketing and sales, to come up with the overall goals, plans, and intent for web sites
  • Creating, enhancing, or modifying different types of web pages such as those based on HTML (hypertext markup language), DHTML (dynamic hypertext markup language), ASPs (active server pages), and JSPs (Java server pages)
  • Using the appropriate authoring tools (text editors, HTML authoring tools, etc.), graphics tools, and animation tools
  • Creating graphical images, image maps, and navigators to improve the look of a site, aid in usability and navigation, and make it visually more interesting and compelling
  • Creating back-end interfaces using CGI (common gateway interface) languages such as Java, Perl, C and others
  • Programming in scripting languages such as Java Script
  • Researching, writing, and editing web site content
  • Maintaining hypertext links and assuring that they are active and current
  • Assuring that web site content is up to date
  • Assuring that web sites are accessible using different browser technologies
  • Assuring that web site content is delivered to users in a timely fashion
  • Maintaining and "policing" the look and feel, or branding, of web sites
  • Performing search engine optimization tasks
  • Assessing new standards, technologies, trends, and products for use with new and existing web sites
  • Analyzing web site traffic statistics and reports
  • Performing miscellaneous administrative duties
  • Attending meetings and keeping management and other stake holders appraised of their work and the success of the web site(s)

Web designers typically work "normal" work-week schedules of around 40 hours per week. Evening and weekend work may be necessary at times to meet deadlines. Telecommuting, or working from home, is common for web designers.

Web Designer Job Skills

A web designer is both a creative graphics design position as well as a technical position requiring a great deal of technical skill. Because of this, Web designers can possess a very broad range of skills, including:

  • Good listening skills to understand goals and requirements
  • Effective communications skills and the ability to communicate with technical personnel as well as non-technical users and staff
  • Planning skills
  • Art or graphic design skills
  • Appreciation for and understanding of advertising
  • Understanding Internet technologies such as HTML, DHTML, ASPs, JSPs, Java, Java Script, Perl, security technologies, FTP (file transfer protocol), electronic mail, and more
  • Understanding the various software tools needed to create and maintain a web sites such as text editors, authoring tools, graphics tools, animation tools, and more
  • Understanding how to program in many different languages and environments
  • Understanding and awareness of issues concerning the web such as bandwidth and download times
  • Understanding of web browser compatibility issues
  • Understanding of Internet etiquette issues - what is and is not generally accepted as appropriate
  • Understanding how search engines work and appropriate ways to optimize web sites
  • Good concentration and attention to detail
  • Problem-solving and trouble-shooting
  • Good time management and project management skills to meet deadlines

Training and Education Required to Become a Web Designer

The education and training requirements to be a web designer are not set in stone and may vary significantly depending on the size and type of organization that they work for, and the sophistication of that organization's web "presence". In some cases, associate's degrees, certificate programs, or relevant experience may be enough to get a job.

Many jobs do, however, have a bachelor's degree as their minimum requirement. Typical concentrations would be information technology or other technology related subjects, graphics design, or combinations of technology and graphics or artistic design.

Because of the rapidly changing nature of Internet and web technology, continuous study is necessary to stay current and up to date.

Many certifications are available for web designers. Brainbench Employment Testing offers certification in Web Design Concepts, Web Design for Accessibility, Web Development Concepts, and many of the individual technologies useful in web design. CIW offers numerous certifications in web technologies as well, including CIW Web Developer Certification. There are also vendor certification programs such as Macromedia's Macromedia Certified Professional Program.

Click here for more more information on Web Design Schools and the programs that they offer.

Web Designer Employment

Web designers may be employed by all types of organizations, including public companies, private companies, non-profit organizations, local, state and federal government agencies, web design firms, public relations firms, and advertising firms. They may also found in all industries. Many web designers are also self-employed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report any separate employment figures for Web designers. They report combined employment statistics for computer systems analysts, database administrators, and computer scientists. They include web development in these designations. Based on the large number of people reported in this group as a whole, almost 1 million people, it is probably safe to assume that there are over 100,000 web designers in the United States.


Web Designer Training

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            Master of Fine Arts: Graphic Design
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            Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Web Development
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