What *essential* skills are needed to be a web designer?

Discussion in 'Web Design' started by Dr_Atomic, Oct 4, 2011.

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  1. Dr_Atomic

    Dr_Atomic New Member

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    I've been building my own websites for ten years now (I have three), but all very simple stuff. I started with Netscape Composer (!), then graduated to Dreamweaver. I'm by no means a pro at DW, but I do understand the basics. I also know some basic Photoshop - enough to resize, touch-up, and do some basic manipulation. I'm up on hosting, FTPing, etc. I know a bare minimum of HTML (since the web design programs essentially do it for me, I never bothered).

    However, I know nothing about CSS, Java, and very little about HTML. I understand Flash (I do video editing with Corel VideoStudio Pro at home), though I haven't done anything with it. Who knows what other web design programs are in demand that I haven't a clue about.

    I was just wondering what skills one would need to know in order to land a position as a paid web designer? I'm sure there are *desired* skills (like an employer wish-list), but I'm just talking about what I would need to know to get something entry-level. From examining the open jobs, it seems employers want a bazillion technical skills (do people really know that many?)

    I might add that I don't have years and years to learn a dozen programs; I'm older and don't want to be retirement age when I'm finally qualified. This is what I really love doing, however, and I've been debating seriously jumping into this for a while now while I've evaluated whether I could devote enough time to it (and whether I could pay my bills on an entry-level position if that day came).
     
  2. anna

    anna New Member

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    If you want a paid position, you will have to know HTML, CSS, and some scripting.. An eye for design also helps.
     
  3. Dr_Atomic

    Dr_Atomic New Member

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    No Java? Or Flash? Seems like every ad I see asks for them.
     
  4. Phreaddee

    Phreaddee Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Java is not Javascript that needs to be pointed out firstly.

    html and css is the core, javascript would certainly give you an advantage.

    flash. who cares for flash...

    once you gain knowledge in html css and js, then I'd suggest a server side language like php.
     
  5. d a v e

    d a v e New Member

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    flash could be useful if you need to make banner adverts ;)
     
  6. MarkR

    MarkR New Member

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    For a web designer I'd want them to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript and a sound knowledge of Photoshop.

    Benefits would be some knowledge of PHP and MYSQL but not essential in the design side of things.
     
  7. Dr_Atomic

    Dr_Atomic New Member

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    How difficult are CSS and Javascript to learn?
     
  8. anna

    anna New Member

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    It depends on how much time you're willing to spend learning. HTMLdog, w3schools, and Lynda.com are great resources.

    For me it took a bit of time to learn. I used Dreamweaver in split view so when I did something visually, I could look at the code and learn that as well. Keep in mind that Dreamweaver bloats pages with a bunch of useless code, but the longer you use it and the more you learn, the less you will have to rely on Dreamweaver.

    I like to build sites using Notepad (or text edit, as I use a Mac at home) and an FTP program.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Absolution

    Absolution New Member

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    CSS is much easier than HTML. Javascript is more difficult since its a programming language and not a formatting language. But it is very similar to C, which is often introduced to students in school and PHP is very similar to it as well. So the learning curve in my opinion is not too bad.

    Overall you need to really code things by hand instead of using graphical programs. This way you can use the best web practices like using layouts based on divs instead of tables.
     
  10. anna

    anna New Member

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    I don't think a layout based on divs is best practice...
     
  11. amorrisweb

    amorrisweb New Member

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    I personally prefer div based layouts for flexibility. The most essential things to know are HTML, CSS, and javascript. A lot of companies also like familiarity with a Content Management System (ie:WordPress, Drupal, Joomla). Many entry-level web jobs also exist in content creation where you are basically writing posts for websites. It is a great foot in the door if you are able to write well.
     
  12. Absolution

    Absolution New Member

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    What would you use instead? HTML5 has some extra tags so you don't use divs as much, but you still need them.
     
  13. anna

    anna New Member

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    Of course you still need them. Maybe I misunderstood your comment, it doesn't really matter anyway. Personally, it was harder for me to grasp CSS than HTML.
     
  14. Absolution

    Absolution New Member

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    I agree that getting the CSS formatting just right is the tricky part. :)
     
  15. anna

    anna New Member

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    Tricky?!?! That's a good word for it! :D
     
  16. n1c0_ds

    n1c0_ds New Member

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    Depends on where you place yourself, but these are the skills I'd want if I hired a sidekick:

    Web designer (solely designs):
    • Fantastic design skills
    • A good understanding of what can and can't be done on the web
    • Usability skills

    Front-end developer (between design and development):
    • Solid understanding of XHTML, CSS3 and Javascript to a lesser extent
    • Knowledge of browser bugs
    • Knowledge of on-site SEO and semantics
    • Experience with any CMS is a major plus
    • PHP is a plus

    Web developer
    • High coding standards
    • Git or subversion usage
    • Passion
    • Experience with any CMS is a major plus

    In real life, however, not all places hire for a specific role, so your ability to do it all is a huge pro, as long as you specialize in one skillset. I can honestly do all of this, but I'm not such a great designer, and I might not be able to work on gigantic backend infrastructures or cite the PHP documentation off the back of my head.
     
  17. Absolution

    Absolution New Member

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    I am glad to see that ONLY web developers have any passion! Definitely coding requires more passion, emotion, and style, as opposed to less passionate aspects such as design. :D :D :D
     
  18. Phreaddee

    Phreaddee Super Moderator Staff Member

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    @nico ds.
    Dont think anyone can quote the php spec, as far as im aware, its never been standarised.
    And if it has can someone post a link to it!
     
  19. benjamin.morgan

    benjamin.morgan New Member

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    Divs work best for me. Much faster than tables in creating columns
     
  20. Coffee Freak

    Coffee Freak New Member

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    That's the best breakdown I've ever seen. It's amazing how many job descriptions you look at (I've been looking for work for 16 months now) that cross-over all of these things and have them all jumbled up. I saw one looking for a Web Designer paying 10-15 an hour that must have experience with MySQL, Java (not Javascript), and ColdFusion. Good luck with THAT!
     

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