In today’s digital marketplace, it is almost unheard of for a business not to have a website.
In the past, it was only necessary for larger businesses to have a website, but now even smaller companies have an online presence. Some companies rely entirely on their website to do business, at most having a physical location to store goods. Because so much business is conducted online, it is an excellent time to be a web designer.
Web designers are sometimes mistakenly identified as web developers. The two jobs share similar names and responsibilities, but key differences exist between the two.
Web designers use existing software to design a website, focusing largely on the appearance of the website and ensuring it is usable. Web developers take over after a web designer and use what the web designer created to code the website.
Essentially, web designers create a blueprint, which the web developer uses to complete the website. Both roles are equally important, which is why web designers are in such high demand.
Web designers often specialize in one type of area. Some web designers focus on solely on graphic design work for different businesses, while others specialize in making informative websites. Some web designers dabble in web development so they can handle all aspects of building a website.
Graphic designers focus entirely on their art to portray a message. Graphic design sometimes features words as well, typically some sort of slogan or a brief blurb to help describe the image. Graphic design is an important part of online marketing, but it is used in other areas as well.
Email marketing campaigns and online game development all benefit from having a graphic designer on hand. Graphic designers prepare visual presentations for corporate websites. Many companies use these presentations as a form of training for new employees or as a general package to explain what the company does to prospective clients.
Many clients and customers are more comfortable looking at a graphic to learn about a company versus reading pages of text.
Graphic design is important for websites because it is the first thing viewers see. The online market is competitive. Unlike running a physical store, you must worry about more than just the competing businesses in your area. If your website is visually unappealing, customers may not bother to look at any of the information and search for another website instead. Graphic designers must understand the following concepts to create a visually appealing website:
- Where to place images.
- How to resize images.
- Creating layouts.
- Using shapes and colors in aesthetically pleasing combinations.
As a remote web designer, you may be asked to focus on a specific area of a site. This usually changes depending on the scope of the project. With a larger project, you may be asked to design a specific set of pages. Otherwise, you are given more generalized instructions, such as designing the web banner and font layouts for the site.
Information Architecture (IA)
Another important part of web design is information architecture, commonly referred to as IA. IA relates to making a website easy to control and navigate. IA specialists commonly work on larger websites.
The client sends all the information that must be displayed on the website, which must then be streamlined into an easy to read and understand format. Some methods IA’s use to make a website easier to navigate include utilizing drop-down menus, create clickable buttons and links or adding additional navigation bars to the website.
If you want to specialize in website navigation, you must be willing to stay up to date with industry changes. New development techniques are constantly being developed and web designers can only get by for so long with outdated designs.
In addition to learning new techniques, IA’s must understand multiple target audiences. In many cases, there is no one perfect design for a website. Instead, IA’s choose from several acceptable plans, picking the ones they believe are most effective at reaching the desired audience.
Some IA’s specialize in a designated field. On larger projects, one IA is brought in specifically to handle the search functions on the website which makes it easier for customers to find information or a specific product. Other IA’s focus on creating interactive menus to easily jump between pages. This involves separating content into new pages so customers and clients are not overwhelmed with too much information on a single webpage.
While many web designers focus on a specific area, this is not required. Web designers who focus on interaction design take a broader approach, creating an efficient and interactive website. Interaction designers are in charge of any actions conducted through your website, such as adding products to a cart or navigating to a specific page. Reporting account problems or registering an account fall under interaction design as well.
Interaction design often streamlines the shopping experience for customers or makes it easier for clients to find whatever information they need from your company.
Web designers working on interaction design typically handle all the interactions for the website. For more complex projects, multiple designers are needed to distribute the work evenly. Web designers must have at least a passing knowledge of coding for interaction design, although not as much as an official web developer needs for his or her career.
In the past, web designers only had to worry about websites being viewed on a computer. Today, many consumers shop and browse the internet using their phones. Websites designed to be viewed on a computer display differently on a smaller phone screen. Trying to navigate one of these websites on a phone is frustrating. Most mobile users immediately switch to an easier to use website.
The main goal of a mobile web designer is to take an existing website and make it fit on any screen. It may sound like a simple task, but in addition to having smaller screens, phones have limited data plans. The best mobile websites use less data than a traditional website, allowing them to load faster and not drain the phone’s resources.