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  1. #1
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    Here's Where I Stand. There's Where I Wish to Go.

    I've been working with websites since I was 15 (2005) and really enjoy making attractive web interfaces. I would really like to make a career out of web design but I am terrified by the thought of freelance work. Do any of you do web design for a living? If so, what can you tell me about your career, pay and where you learned the most? Would you suggest a career in web design?

    Here are two examples of things I have begun designing recently. It's a challenge for me to finish a design when I'm not doing it for anything but fun and practice. I wind up not knowing what to put on the site because I don't know what industry it's supposed to cater to!

    Example One

    Example Two

    I am currently unemployed. At my most recent job I was the Marketing Director and handled all of the computer/website/tech stuff for the entire facility, as well. I set the website up on Wordpress and performed a crap ton of SEO to increase business. I really don't want to be in marketing anymore, though. I'm done with that, haha.

    I have all the time in the world to practice my web design skills. I've got the entire Adobe CS6 and a lot of ambition. When I do get a new job, I hope to make it temporary until I'm able to break into the world of web design as a career.


    I am really looking for advice, guidance and constructive criticism. I want to know if you think I'm in the right direction with my designs that I've presented to you (if you think they are/could be good upon completion), what you know about careers in web design and what books/courses should I take. (I can design in Photoshop, but I still don't even know the first thing about coding it and making it more than just a picture.)


    Thank you to all!



    EDIT: I am mostly interested in designing for WordPress. So if you make suggestions for good reads or learning resources, keep in mind that WP is the direction I wish to go.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot WebEminence's Avatar
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    That's a great ambition you have and it's clear you have some talent and experience. I think it's important to know your talents and possibly partner up with someone who compliments you. I think a lot of web designers don't do so well because they are talented designers but don't know much about marketing or selling themselves online. If you just want to design, then partnering with someone who does the business side might be a good idea.

    I kind of did the opposite with my business because I'm not a graphic designer but more skilled in site layout, search engine and conversion optimization, and the business side.

    Have you thought about designing and selling Wordpress themes? I know there are some sites that allow you to sell your own themes. That way you can profit from you designs but not get too much into the business side of managing clients. Might be a good way to turn your hobby into some income.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy conradical's Avatar
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    The web designer spot has either died, low-paying, or in the process of dying. Unless my definition of designer is different. At least, I would suggest positioning yourself as a web designer and developer.

    I am involved with the hiring process for my team and this is what I expect from potential team player in the web development team. When I interview a web designer, I am looking for knowledge, philosophy and experience in these areas - listed by importance:

    1. Research - should be well read on case studies and blogs regarding web design, usability, user interface and aesthetics, and mobile/responsive
    2. Create multiple mocks and test (Photoshop/online tools/illustrator/paper and pencil)
    3. HTML5 and CSS3 - well read, examples.
    4. Responsive design - formulas, well read (example blogs, books) examples
    5. jQuery - examples
    6. CMS
    7. Google analytics - experience
    8. Version control
    9. OS - Mac/PC

    Additional items may appear depending on the shop you are applying with - if they focus on a specific language or CMS or environment in their deployment. These however are the skills a web designer should possess.

    If that helps you to see what employers are expecting out of a web designer.

  4. #4
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gants View Post
    I've been working with websites since I was 15 (2005) and really enjoy making attractive web interfaces. I would really like to make a career out of web design but I am terrified by the thought of freelance work. Do any of you do web design for a living?
    I believe many of us are doing it for a living.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gants View Post
    If so, what can you tell me about your career, pay and where you learned the most? Would you suggest a career in web design?
    What you can earn depends on many factors. Firstly, it depends on how good you are at what you do. Secondly, it depends on how well you're able to market yourself. And thirdly, it depends on where you live.

    Of course I'd recommend a career in web design! It's a wonderful job because it's so varied and rich.

    A modern web designer really is someone who wears a dozen hats. You need to know, at least rudimentarily, how to write content for the web, you need to know quite a few languages (HTML, CSS, and Javascript are the main ones), some are markup and style-related languages, others are scripted or even programming languages (PHP, Ruby, Python and some others). Having a basic understanding of at least one language—in your case it would be PHP as you want to specialize in WordPress.

    You should be familiar with what related skills are expected of you, e.g. various frameworks and markup/style "helpers" such as SCSS/Less/Stylus for "rapid CSS development" or even HAML (if you work with Ruby).

    Here are two examples of things I have begun designing recently. It's a challenge for me to finish a design when I'm not doing it for anything but fun and practice. I wind up not knowing what to put on the site because I don't know what industry it's supposed to cater to!
    That may not be the most practical approach and the reason you're finding it a challenge to finish the design is due to the fact that it's never a good idea to just fire up Photoshop and play around. Of course you should play around, but you need to know what it is you're actually doing. So, I'd start off with writing down a small brief on what the site is about and what it is supposed to do, what features it has and what audience it is aimed at. When you have that down, create an information architecture, a content structure. You can do this with a pencil an paper, there's no need for high-tech at that stage, but there are tools for that. The most efficient tool is a good and solid text editor. You would get straight to coding (HTML and CSS) and that's a good way to get right into one of the main pillars of the craft because, as a web designer/developer, your time will be mainly spent writing code.


    I have all the time in the world to practice my web design skills. I've got the entire Adobe CS6 and a lot of ambition. When I do get a new job, I hope to make it temporary until I'm able to break into the world of web design as a career.

    That's great! But do remember that Photoshop, Illustrator and all those applications are just tools, they're not skills. You need to learn the skills first. Obviously, you should be good at the tools you'll be using, but they make up a very small portion of your actual job description. There are plenty of skills to learn, e.g. typography, color theory, grid design, iconography, content writing/strategy, site performance, user interface design, the basics of marketing, HTML, CSS, accessibility, JavaScript, geometry, basic math, and that's just touching the surface.

    For books, I can recommend pretty much every book that's been released by fivesimplesteps.com and abookapart.com. SitePoint has quite a few good ones as well, so that's another place to look. And there are so many others, but the first two resources are quite good to start out.

    tutsplus.com and its entire network have some fantastic courses. I can definitely recommend them. Learnable.com also has some really good stuff, so that's another resource to check out. Also check out sites like css-tricks.com or smashingmagazine.com that offer a broad selection of tutorials, snippets and walkthroughs.

    For WordPress specifically, I recommend perishablepress.com. In my mind, it's the best online resource for WordPress related topics. Jeff Starr, the owner of that site, has also written a highly commendable book on WordPress called "Digging into WordPress".
    Maleika E. A. | Rockatee | Twitter | Dribbble




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