Today, when it comes to the success of your website or product, UI/UX is the deciding factor.
Don’t believe me? Check these stats out.
Research suggests that 75% of people base their trust in a brand from their website user experience. Over 38% of visitors will cease to interact with a website if they find it visually unappealing. Moreover, 40% of people will move on if they find a website is not mobile-friendly.
It’s a sobering statistic, isn’t it? But that’s great news for those looking at building a career in web designing.
There’s no better time to be a part of the web design industry than today, with a host of career options available (UX designer, UI designer, Visualizer, Web developer and more). However, when starting in your design career, it can be overwhelming to understand which areas to focus on and prioritize.
You can’t eat the whole cake in one sitting, you need to break it up into manageable chunks and achieve mastery one skill at a time.
We’ve created this checklist of essential Design Skills that every web designer must master to help you in advancing your design career.
Since innovations are disrupting the UI/UX industry every day, you’ll have to keep re-evaluating your skills to remain updated with the trends.
A web designer is someone who, simply put, designs websites, keeping in mind the clients’ needs and the final user experience. The three aspects which a web designer focuses on are appearance, layout, and in some cases content. Appearance consists of factors such as colors, fonts, and images whereas layout include structure and categorization.
A website with a minimalist and simple aesthetic always catches the eye and helps in earning the trust of the target audience.
In the end, the three factors in a website which contribute to good user experience look, feel, and usability.
Many people get confused between the roles of a web designer and a web developer. Although their roles are interdependent, their job descriptions, tools and resources used, and skills and personality requirements differ to a great extent.
A web designer deals with the visual elements of a website. His/her job is to ideate on the style, look and aesthetics of a website. S/he uses design tools such as Photoshop and sometimes coding tools such as HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). There are three types of web designers: User Experience (UX) Designer, User Interface (UI) Designer, and Visual Designer.
So you can figure out from the above description that a web developer’s job is to build while a web designer’s job is to tell the developer what to build. This infographic illustrates the difference between a web designer and a web developer beautifully.
When we talk about the skills to become a web designer, what immediately comes to mind is HTML, CSS, Photoshop etc.
No doubt, these tools are important. But what you have to keep in mind is also the fact that web design is a vast discipline that requires you to stay sharp mentally. So, along with just mastering the tools, you’ll also need to have a host of other skills to stay relevant.
Here’s what has helped me the most throughout my designing career.
Technical skills are something that every web designer is likely to possess. What’ll give you an edge over the others is to have a set of extra skills to help you be more productive and easy to work with.
With the change in web design trends, there has also been a change in customer needs as well. So if you’re trying to provide the same-old stock solutions to your clients, think again.
Innovations also bring in new needs. Thus, being empathetic towards the customer needs, trying to understand their point of view will help you in providing the right solutions and be a better web designer.
Empathy helps you to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to discern what their goals are, how they wish to achieve their goals and how you can play a part in helping them achieve their goals. A sense of empathy will help you to avoid making assumptions and deliver exactly what the customer wants.
What matters most today for a designer is their Emotional Quotient or Intelligence (EQ), it dictates their entire understanding of the design process. EQ involves your understanding of people and your ability for interpersonal relationships.
The five components that form EQ are Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills.
A higher EQ will help you better understand your customer, deal with them judiciously, and provide them with the desired solutions.
You may have to interact with the client often as a part of your job. This is where your communication skills will come into play.
Simply designing beautiful websites won’t help you unless you’re able to communicate your ideas clearly to the client. Communication just doesn’t refer to sharing ideas, but also coordinating and following up on client projects, putting across ideas during a pitch, and handling basic copywriting or copy editing work for the website.
With every brand vying for attention, it takes a lot of creativity to stand out from the crowd. Coming up with your unique ideas and solutions will go a long way in making your mark in the web design field.
Once you understand your clients’ goals and requirements, you can deliver customized solutions that will help you to gain trust. Trying to deliver more than your clients’ expectations will help you to be an invaluable resource to them.
Once you start constantly coming up with out-of-the-box ideas, your work will speak for itself and you’ll be able to carve out a niche for yourself.
If you want to make it in the web design field, you’ll have to learn to manage your time judiciously. Since trust is one of the most important factors in a business, you’ll have to stand by your words and deliver projects on time.
Your aim should be to never miss a deadline and update your client with regular reports. To ensure this, you’ll have to allocate your tasks according to priority, schedule them accordingly, and make sure they get delivered on time.
Using productivity apps, task tracking apps, or on a larger scale, project management apps can minimize distractions and help you increase your productivity through efficient time management.
A good design sense is a beginning skill for any web designer. You will need to possess the power to visualize a good design to succeed in the field. A good design sense is not just about colors, patterns, or texture, but takes into account basic design principles, typography rules, best practices for use of image, layout principles, etc.
However, it doesn’t just end there. You’ll also have to keep researching and testing out your design theories with the end-user to understand if they can interact with your site effortlessly.
Most brands today will have a mobile version of their website. So you’ll have to factor in the responsiveness in almost all your designs. With the spike in types of resolutions and screens, it’s next to impossible to keep on adapting your design to meet each specification. This is why it’s important for you as a web designer to understand the principles of responsive design and build sites that look good on all screens.
Since today’s customers are inundated with options, they are extremely selective about the product choices they make. So unless you create websites with a user-first approach, you’ll not be able to fulfill their needs.
To help create a simplified path for your users to follow, you should create a sitemap for your layout and content. You must do extensive research that will help you to understand your customer’s pain points to create ideal user flows.
Rapid wireframing and testing various mockups will help you to understand what works for your users, and help create a logical flow.
Moreover, understanding your user psychology can also help you to create better UX designs. You can research and create user personas to chalk out details about your target users.
Analyzing, testing, and adapting your designs to user needs is the key to creating successful UX designs.
Just like every other workman, web designers also need to have their set of tools to keep creating beautiful websites. Design software applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Mockplus are important tools required for performing various functions such as image processing, prototyping, animations etc.
A multi-featured tool that can be used both for web and graphic design.
A powerful tool ideal for processing vector graphics, creating font and graphic designs, and book, product and magazine layouts.
A photoshop alternative, which works great, but only limited for IOS users..
It’s an extremely helpful and free interactive prototyping/wireframing tool.
Just like design tools, there are several development tools too that need to be mastered by web designers to be on top of their game.
This forms the foundation of the structure/content architecture of all websites.
This helps create the visual appearance of the website.
An approach that helps create asynchronous web applications.
HyperText Preprocessor (PHP) is one of the most popular open-source languages for web development.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is one of the most used database languages.
If you’re done mastering the Skills, Tools and Languages we’ve mentioned so far, kudos to you.
Now, you can move on to mastery by acquiring some additional skills that will carve you apart and cement you as a highly sought after web designer.
Your ability to provide all-round support will go a long way in earning your customer’s trust and confidence. Going above mere website designing, if you get to have an idea of web servers where your website will be hosted, it’ll give you a better chance to solve issues if any arise.
Understanding how servers play a part in running websites will help you to design sites better to meet the server requirements. It’ll also help you optimize the performance of your website.
Suppose you’ve designed a beautiful website, but no traffic comes to it. It won’t serve any purpose. Understanding the basics of SEO will help you to customize your website as per Google’s needs and increase its discoverability.
You should focus on factors such as content architecture, page loading speed, performance, and responsiveness to make sure your website is SEO friendly.
In the end, almost every job out there just boils down to customer service. Project management skills are extremely important if you want to make it big in the field. Handling the pitch, kicking off a project, ensuring it’s on track, and meeting deadlines efficiently are the qualities you’ll need to master.
Whether you work as a freelancer or in an agency, handling projects successfully is going to be a discerning factor for your growth. Providing solutions with customer satisfaction in mind will help you succeed in the long run.
If you are tight on timeline and budget, you can find great admin templates or ui kits, which are stunning in design and error free + responsive in coding. You can use them to create your web application or website much faster. They also came with dedicated support, so in case you find any issue, they help you to solve your queries.
Do you want to add any more skills to the list? We’d love to hear from you.