If you are a recent graduate and have been thinking about starting a career in web design there’s a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before you take the plunge into building in your skill set and investing a bunch of time. Web design is a relatively new field, meaning the past ten years, and continues to evolve and grow rapidly every single year.
Let’s face it, more and more people and companies are wanting websites each and every day. If you have the right skills it can be you who provides the goods in this market. Even without formal training, if you are a self-starter you can teach yourself everything you’ll need to know.
In this article we’ll cover the four biggest tips you’ll need to know if you want to get started with a career in web design.
1. Make sure this is what you really want
It’s easy to get seduced by the glamour of being a designer, getting paid to be creative and spending your days “playing” in front of a computer screen. However, if you aren’t passionate about becoming a web designer, then your days are numbered. On the other hand, if you think, breathe and eat design then you have that inner fire that will carry you through when times get tough.
You will face a lot of opposition and competition going into this field. However, if you truly have the desire you can make it happen. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but make sure your heart is fully in learning this profession inside and out. It will make you life and your path much more enjoyable.
2. Get involved in the community
Whether you studied web design or programming in college or not doesn’t matter. You’ll still want to get involved in online communities of web designers. The best option for this is to follow some web designers blogs whose work you admire. That way you’ll be able to immerse yourself in their design wisdom and and perhaps even get on their radar through leaving insightful comments.
Most, if not all, of the web design world is open source. Take advantage of this and when you see something you love, see if you can mimic it. It might be a design element or a piece of code. Just make sure you’re surrounding yourself and constantly reviewing the work of web designers you respect. After a while some of their gusto might just rub off.
3. Know your craft inside and out
Here’s another time where your passion will come into play again. Being a web designer means you’ll have to become fluent in multiple skillets. Mostly, visual editors such as Photoshop and possibly InDesign, and programming languages like HTML & CSS, although having knowledge of other languages such as PHP will come in handy.
You’ll have to keep up on the latest evolving web trends, for instance “flat design” is very popular nowadays, and the newest programming languages to keep your websites up to speed. Basically, you have to love web design with your heart and soul. This will keep you moving forward.
4. Build a strong portfolio
Once you have a strong foundation of skill set and ambition, you’ll need to build a portfolio. A portfolio is a showcase of your best work. Here you’ll either want to build a fake website for a non-existent website or organization or you’ll want to see if you can build a website for a smaller company in your hometown.
You’ll want to show your potential clients the best you can do, so here it’s your time to shine. Make sure every sample you show in your portfolio is your best work. Clients could care less about your degree, mostly they value results. If you can bring them the results they’re looking for you’ll never be out of work.
I hope that you’ve found this article valuable and are now on your way towards becoming a web designer. Remember, the path isn’t easy, but you will succeed if you keep at it. You might feel frustrated and feel like you have a long road ahead of you, but if it really is your passion then nothing will stand in your way.
Zane Schwarzlose is the SEO Director at Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin based web design company. Zane thinks that a strong portfolio is the best way to get a job in web design right after graduating.