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  1. #1
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    Ideal skill sets for a Web Designer

    I was reading this article about getting a job at Google. Basically it says, focussing on one programming language and become an expert makes you more employable. But I feel in web design there are just too many things for a person to just focus on one. If you had to pick an ideal pool of skills, what would it be?

    For me, I assume Design Theory (typography, layout, colour etc) HTML, CSS and photoshop are bare minimum basics.

    Other 'configurations' could be the basics plus:
    • Online Marketing Specialisation - Adwords, htaccess & web.config regular expressions, analytics, link building and blogging etc.
    • Interface specialisation - UI/UX knowledge and expert javascript/jQuery skills.
    • CMS specialisation - Highly knowledgable in a handful of popular CMSes (Wordpress, Drupal, Umbraco, Squiz etc)

  2. #2
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    It depends if you want to run a business or get a job and where you want the job. If you want a job in a big company a specific skillset would be the way to go.

    If you want to freelance or run a small business you probably have to be an all rounder or be exceptional at one skill - I'd choose design but I'm not sure it's something you can really learn. But if you were an exceptional designer you would have a good chance at getting a good amount of work and it would be easy enough to get the other skills if you want to do the whole process.

    If you want to build a large successful agency you need to be a business guy - ideally with a good eye for design IMO.

  3. #3
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PicNet View Post
    I was reading this article about getting a job at Google. Basically it says, focussing on one programming language and become an expert makes you more employable. But I feel in web design there are just too many things for a person to just focus on one. If you had to pick an ideal pool of skills, what would it be?
    First of all, Web Design != Web Development.

    Secondly, Web Development is no different to any other type of programming. Most back-end developers only know PHP and are happy to limit themselves, whereas some people like to dabble and will move around jobs with different technologies and stacks. Some of us like both front-end development and back-end.

    Quote Originally Posted by PicNet View Post
    For me, I assume Design Theory (typography, layout, colour etc) HTML, CSS and photoshop are bare minimum basics.
    Again, it depends on whether you want to be a Web Designer or a Web Developer. Designers will need to know all about the theoretical aspects of design, and front-end developers will need to know about HTML and CSS, probably a bit of Photoshop too so that they can work with PSD's.

    In regards to programming this is the best list I can come across.

    http://programmers.stackexchange.com...eb-development

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    First of all, Web Design != Web Development.
    Completely agree with you there. Unfortunately, most employers don't know the difference between design and development. In their eyes, you're the guy that will make their website, including both design and development. When you look at most job ads these days, they expect web 'designers' to know some sort of scripting language and sometimes even php etc. Rarely will you find an ad that just states 'html, css, photoshop'. There's a lot of crossover. That's another reason I thought of this post - these days is it really enough to just know the basics and still be a web designer?

  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy Slackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PicNet View Post
    Completely agree with you there. Unfortunately, most employers don't know the difference between design and development. In their eyes, you're the guy that will make their website, including both design and development. When you look at most job ads these days, they expect web 'designers' to know some sort of scripting language and sometimes even php etc. Rarely will you find an ad that just states 'html, css, photoshop'. There's a lot of crossover. That's another reason I thought of this post - these days is it really enough to just know the basics and still be a web designer?
    I agree with this, lots of job applications use the all-in list of skills because they don't necessarily know what they need themselves, but these tend to be where a Jack-of-all trades is needed and not a straight developer.

    Having been around the design and development of websites since it all kicked off there has definitely become a fragmentation and specialisation that has gone along with it. I think Danweb's answer above was a good summary of that.

    I currently work in a small company and you by default end up having to dabble in lots of different areas. It isn't the nicest because you become aware of your limitations in so many more areas, but you also come to appreciate how knowing one language like the back of your hand would be a huge advantage. Because I suck at langauges and enjoy variety, I like my job, but I also have to live with the limbo frustration of never dealing with one language full time all the time to the point I do know it inside out and backwards.

  6. #6
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    I'm going to quote someone who's answer made complete sense to me.
    In my view, a good developer is a "table with legs":

    http://www.av8n.com/physics/breadth-depth.htm

    It's no good to be a beginner at everything an expert at nothing. But equally, an area of extreme skill is no good without the context of any others.

    I think the best people in any industry have a breadth of skills that they're at least comfortable with to some extent, combined with a couple of areas of high fluency.
    I currently work in a small company and you by default end up having to dabble in lots of different areas. It isn't the nicest because you become aware of your limitations in so many more areas, but you also come to appreciate how knowing one language like the back of your hand would be a huge advantage. Because I suck at languages and enjoy variety, I like my job, but I also have to live with the limbo frustration of never dealing with one language full time all the time to the point I do know it inside out and backwards.
    I've joined a much smaller team recently and I love working in a lot more areas, the larger the company the more people will specialize.
    With that comes a lot of waste and people refusing to work outside of their areas of interest.

    I don't think I'll ever work for another large organization again, from my experience smaller teams have more tables with legs.

    PicNet, my only suggestion is not to limit yourself. Always keep up to date with one area that you really enjoy, but always be learning about the things around your area that you need to interact with.

  7. #7
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    Web designers should have several skills in order to become a powerful candidate for a job in the web industry. HTML, CSS, Photoshop, and Javascript (JQuery) are very important tools to master as a web designer. These tools allow you to utilize your talent. Web usability and interface knowledge is also a must.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Member KeithKarr's Avatar
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    Web designers, according to a lot of recent postings should be able to color correct, edit, create vector art, build a website, host a website, manage a website, develop content on the website, write blogs, get coffee, wash cars and fetch groceries...while only keeping a part-time schedule [for tax reasons!!]

  9. #9
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    I am totally agree with " ferrelm3" as i am working in this field for the last 14 years. You just need to polish your skills specially in CSS and Javascript as when you'll work on a large scale website or application front-end you will need to use these very frequently. I prefer to keep learning CSS in depth. and learn to make the web page cross browser. Internet explorer is a nightmare for css web designer.

  10. #10
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    Web Designers Are responsible for A creative and Good Looking website . They are creative Bloc of a web services company and take care of almost everything that will be visible to the visitor of the website. Requires Skills like Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver are some of the design .

  11. #11
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PicNet View Post
    Completely agree with you there. Unfortunately, most employers don't know the difference between design and development. In their eyes, you're the guy that will make their website, including both design and development.
    I won't disagree with you there, but what I will say is that it doesn't make it right to lump both in together. I've worked with enough companies that treat Web Developers as designers to know that they aren't the kinds of companies you should be working at because a company that cannot afford to pay two people to do two job roles isn't respecting your skill set.

    Quote Originally Posted by PicNet View Post
    When you look at most job ads these days, they expect web 'designers' to know some sort of scripting language and sometimes even php etc. Rarely will you find an ad that just states 'html, css, photoshop'.
    Most job ads aren't like that. Only poor jobs ask for this and thankfully these are becoming the minority as the need for agency-driven development and in-house teams rises.

    Go anywhere that a self-respecting graduate or entry-level developer can land a job and you'll see that they ask for the typical stuff in the job description, with a designer being a designer and a developer either as both front-end and back-end or both.

    Quote Originally Posted by PicNet View Post
    There's a lot of crossover.
    Is there? I'd say that there is absolutely no crossover between design and development at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by PicNet View Post
    That's another reason I thought of this post - these days is it really enough to just know the basics and still be a web designer?
    Yes, and any thoughts otherwise highlight the reason why I said that it doesn't make it right to lump design and development in together.

    This forum is guilty of doing this as HTML and CSS forums are within the design section of the site and as you'll know it breeds novice-level discussion. The reason why so many people lump the two together is because there is only one of them but two tasks that need doing, so in the process of learning how to build a site one will have to do some kind of design. However, in the real world hardly anyone is both a credible designer and a mid-to-senior level development. It just doesn't happen, because they are both entirely different skill sets. When's the last time you met a Personal Injury lawyer that was also a qualified medical doctor?

    The simple truth you will gain from reading any job board is that you are either a designer or a developer. If you're a designer your realm is Photoshop, multimedia, UX and possibly work within the IA of a site. If you're a developer your job is knowing how to code a website up, meaning the following skills:

    • Front-end: HTML, CSS and JavaScript are essential prerequisites. A front-end developer should also have experience with a framework or library like jQuery or Mootools, and possibly with something like Backbone.js. They should also be capable of cross-browser testing in legacy browsers and being able to use basic tools like profiling. Finally, they should be able to monitor the performance of a web page and understand why a page should be a respectable size.
    • Back-end: The world's your oyster. If you like Linux then then the popular languages are Python, Ruby and PHP, with other smaller and newer technologies like Clojure, Scala and others being quite nice to know later on down the line when you can make architectural decisions. If you're a Windows fan then ASP.NET is a fantastic choice nowadays. You'll also want to know about using CMS's, with the popular choices being Drupal, Umbraco and Concrete5.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    In my country designers will never do so called "coding"
    A company that works in web-design will typically want around 4-5 people.

    1. Web-designer / UI specialist to do all kinds of creative works like sites, banners, presentations, apps design, sometimes prints etc. So the skillset for that would be — photoshop grandmaster, some flash and illustrator.
    2. Back end developer who does all the programming (small studios might not have one)
    3. Front end developer who does html, css, javascript, puts design on cms so to say.
    4. Seo / marketing / sales / pm guy (depending on company size)

    It always puzzled me why designers are happy to do coding — it seems like a different mindset to me. But since i started to look for a job in uk i started to work on my css/html/jquery skills =)


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