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Reliable career advice for Web designers can be hard to come by. The field is competitive and extremely specialized. If you are trying to get a foothold in the industry, there are a few places you can look for help.
One of the more common freelance Web designer jobs out there these days is setting up a blog for a client. This type of communication has become extremely popular on the Web, and more companies have decided to include a blog on their websites for marketing purposes. Blogs allow for a personal "voice" and continually provide fresh information for the site. Designers may be asked to create a blog from scratch, or to embed a blog that already exists into a website.
There are various templates that can be used for blogs, but Web designers may want to create a custom design for the client to help set them apart from the competition. Much like setting up a regular website, things such as color, font, and images should be taken into consideration, and you may want to include the company logo or other branding information in the design. Professionals who can create a blog will have an edge, as this is rapidly becoming a staple feature on many websites, particularly in corporate culture.
Web designers need a particular group of skills in order to perform their work well. Some of these may come naturally, but many can be learned. For example, an aptitude for selecting complementary colors is a skill that would be of great benefit to a person who designs Websites for a living. A good sense of space and layout are other desirable qualities, as is the knowledge of how to set up a site that is easy to navigate. These skills are taught in the design classroom in a variety of different courses.
Web design careers require more than "hard" skills however. People skills are also a big plus, as you will be dealing with clients who have expectations of how their Website will look and work. If you are able to communicate with them easily and understand their wants, needs and concerns, you are probably going to do a lot better than someone who lacks those skills. A good blend of technical ability and communication skills is the perfect combination for a career in Web design.
Freelance Web design jobs come in many packages, and one of the latest buzzwords is "mobile." Mobile technology is booming, and with it comes the need for designers to understand how to include mobile-friendly features in their approach to page design. The iPad, iPhone, and Blackberry are a way of life for many people these days, and they want to be able to read their favorite content on the go. Some features, such as Flash, won't work well for mobile design, so many professionals are adjusting their approach to include things that will be more "mobile-friendly."
Mobile technology is not only here to stay, but it will probably continue to increase in importance as more people are able to afford these devices. Keeping up with the latest direction in Web design is crucial for any freelancer. In order to stay competitive, you have to be able to show potential clients that they're getting value by hiring you to do the job. If you can include a mobile strategy in your initial discussion or your proposal, it just may help seal the deal.
One of the issues that often arises for a Web designer is how to price their work--and this is especially true for freelancers. At some point in your Web design career you will probably need to bid a project, and it can help to know what you should take into account when setting your price.
First of all, it is a good idea to make sure that you have the expertise that is required to complete the project. If a client is looking for a flash-based site but that isn't in your background, you won't want to waste time compiling a bid. On the other hand, if flash is your specialty, you may be able to charge a premium for the work. Get all the information ahead of time and you'll be able to see if the job is something you can do.
The time-frame is another big factor in determining the cost of a project, as is the difficulty of the work. Generally speaking, the shorter the time and the harder the work, the more you can charge. You may also want to know if the client will want you to maintain the site. It can mean extra money, but some designers may prefer not to take that type of work on. The more you know on the front end, the easier it will be to quote the client a solid price.
There are many different types of Web design careers out there, and what you choose depends mainly on two things: what your skills are and what type of environment you enjoy. Most Web designers work on a contract basis, regardless of whether they are employed by a company or hired as a freelancer. That said, there are some corporate positions available as well, but they aren't always as easy to find.
In order to get yourself on the right road, consider what you enjoy doing. Are you excited about perfecting the way something looks? Perhaps a career designing Websites would be ideal for you. If you like work that has many different components, you may want to think about working with on-line marketplaces and getting into e-commerce. On-line security is another area that you may want to look into.
Many Web designers hold a variety of different jobs over the span of their career. You may wind up starting out in one area only to find you prefer another segment of the industry. Keep your options open, as there is typically a way to transition into a different position with a little bit of training in the area. There is also usually a good deal of freelance work available.
So what training do you need to successfully launch a Web designer career? Actually, there is no one "right" answer to this question. Since this field is still fairly new compared to many others, there is less formal education available--although that is now rapidly beginning to change. Different companies will list a variety of requirements for jobs in the field. That said, an education does give you an advantage when it comes to finding employment.
Training in design with an emphasis on Web applications can give you an edge in this field. So can having a good portfolio of Websites that you have designed; since ultimately it is the proof of your ability. After all, the bottom line is really whether or not you can create a Website. If you do opt to take classes in Web design, try to find a college, university or technical school that has an established program rather than just taking a few courses if possible. That way you can also network at the same time you are learning.
The ability to do Website design is not the only thing that potential employers will be looking at. They will also want to see that the Websites you build are "user-friendly," and that you are able to create a variety of different looks. Some companies may need extra features such as a shopping cart or a newsletter sign up, so the more options you can show them on Websites you have created, the better.
The career opportunities in Web design are plentiful, and if you have a background in graphic design, transitioning into the field isn't out of the question. Truth is, the two jobs have a good deal in common. Web designers need to have an eye for layout, just as graphic designers do. They both need to have good people skills and must be able to take ideas and translate them into a visible "product".
Having a background in graphic design is actually a great first step toward becoming a Web designer. The next step would be to get some specialized training in areas that are needed to do work on-line. Taking a class or two in things such as HTML, Photoshop and other related subjects can help prepare you for layout work on the Web.
One easy way to move into the field of Web design is to see if there are any positions opening up in the company you are working for right now. You'll have the advantage of an established track record as a good employee, plus you will already be familiar with the company ideas and ideals. This can put you one step ahead of other applicants and give you an edge on the competition. They may even be willing to provide you with training.
If you go into a career in Web design, telecommuting is a possibility. The nature of the work allows for flexibility in terms of keeping office hours, and much of the work can be done from the comfort of your home. Chicago graphic designers or those who live in an environment with cold, snowy winters may find that idea quite appealing. Those who are hoping to work for a company that isn't in their area may also be excited about the idea of telecommuting.
Some positions may offer a combination of work from home and office hours. Although Web design is a fairly solitary occupation, it does necessitate communication with the client, and sometimes they prefer that this is done in person. Companies may decide to allow telecommuting on some days, but require employees to be present for department meetings or other important events.
If you are interested in telecommuting, it can be a good idea to either search specifically for these types of jobs or ask up front if it is an option at a particular organization. You can also get in touch with a talent agency and have them scout out a position that offers a work from home or long-distance option.
Are you the type of person who is on the computer a lot? Do you have a good "eye" for what looks good and what doesn't when it comes to Website layout? If so, you might want to consider a career as a Web designer. With some training, you can learn how to create and maintain Websites and launch yourself into a career that is in demand.
If you look around you can find several types of programs that will give you the education you need to begin a career as a Web designer. You'll need to decide how much time you want to invest in such a program; so do a little research and see what is available near you. Look for schools that have certification programs or degrees in Web design.
If you think you might be interested in this type of career, it can help to take a basic course in the field first to see if it is a good match for your skills and personality. If you like it, you can go on from there. Web designers are typically self-starters who are creative and can work easily with feedback from others. If that sounds like it could be you, why not investigate a bit more and see?
When it comes to careers in web design, there are many jobs to choose from. Sometimes it may be difficult to find all of the different options that are out there. This can be especially true if you are a recent graduate, or if you have moved to a new area. New York web design jobs may be quite different than those currently available in San Francisco or Chicago. A job search can be overwhelming for seasoned pros as well.
One great way to learn more about job opportunities is to align yourself with a talent agency. These companies do their best to match talent with organizations that are looking for people with specific qualifications and experience. Having an agency do your groundwork can not only save you time, but it can position you for better jobs as well.
Finding the right agency is a matter of looking for one with a good reputation and placement record. Do a little bit of homework on this one--it can make a big difference. Sit down with a talent representative and talk a bit about what they can do for you and see if you like what you hear. Ultimately you'll want to find a company that you feel good about using, so don't be afraid to ask questions. A good agency should be more than happy to answer them.
Are you a little curious about the current employment outlook for Web design jobs? If you are trying to get a feel for the industry and whether or not it will continue to grow, it can help to look at some projections.
The U.S. Department of Labor points out that as companies become more dependent on the Internet for various aspects of their business, the demand for related service professionals will increase. As e-commerce continues to grow and become a larger factor in the shopping arena, there will be a need for people who can create and maintain things such as shopping carts and security. In addition, nearly every company has interest in having a Web presence. It appears that this career field has a very good outlook in terms of continued employment opportunities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that earnings in this field are above the national average, and this is expected to continue as technology evolves. In other words, Web design is a good field to go into, with a bright future ahead. There are a variety of jobs in the field and they pay well. If you are already in the business, you can feel secure about your employment, and if you are thinking about going into the field, you can feel good about your chances for connecting with a job.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|