Is Web Designer/Developer still a viable career option?

I am a noob. Ive been studying web design for a while now and have made a few sites for myself and am currently working on my own project Still in the wireframing/design comp stage). I have a background in Networking (cisco, juniper) but find it really boring and more and more these days employers want a CCNP level networking guy to be a Microsoft or Linux expert as well (and not pay any additional money for it). I just got fed up with it all and poured my heart and soul into learning web design and coding.

I’ve spoken to a few people who think I’m an idiot for doing this because in the IT world, if you’re not doing IT for any period of time, it can be difficult to get a job in it because for some reason employers think you forgot the commands in the CLI or something. Some say that with the plethora of the point and click build a site web services out there that the demand for a skilled web designer is diminishing. Plus the fact that they can get it built by some guy in a foreign country for a fraction of the cost (no disrespect to people in another country, but you are the competition).

So I pose a question to those with greater knowledge and depth of experience, the sitepoint community, is this still a viable career choice. I really enjoy it and have fun not only designing the site and coding, but working with Illustrator (ai>PS imo) as well and would like to continue doing it but dont want to feel that I am getting into a sinking ship.


Oh forgot to mention all the sites being made with wordpress, joomla et al. I know a guy who runs a web based business and his site is a joomla site. I realize that these are for the smaller sites (your not going to run a huge site on joomla) but he is a joomla fanatic and stands by it and me being new to this, am not really confident to argue the merits of a CCS3/HTML JS based site compared to a site run off some CMS.

Not trying to be a naysayer, just really want to have my fears put to rest.

i use illustrator first and foremost as well :wink:
a lot more precise for making site mock-ups, wire-frames, etc.

Can’t answer your question though, but I am under the impression that it’s still a viable career option.

And even CMS site editing requires CSS/HTML knowledge to be done well.

Is Web Designer/Developer still a viable career option?

Absolutely, there’s more opportunity in web development now than there has ever been.

I have a background in Networking (cisco, juniper) but find it really boring and more and more these days employers want a CCNP level networking guy to be a Microsoft or Linux expert as well (and not pay any additional money for it). I just got fed up with it all and poured my heart and soul into learning web design and coding.

Awesome. Do what you enjoy. It really is that simple.

ai>PS imo

They are quite different, but I’d encourage you to switch to Photoshop if you have the option. It’s the industry standard and you’ll work better with others if you know Ps really well. But if it’s just for you then use whatever tools get the job done.

He is a joomla fanatic and stands by it and me being new to this, am not really confident to argue the merits of a CCS3/HTML JS based site compared to a site run off some CMS.

All sites need a front-end, whether the content comes from a database doesn’t change what is output.
You’ll find though that most sites require a CMS so you want to know how to use them if you’re going to get into web design/development.

Good luck, do what you enjoy, be happy.

Thank you mark and jesus.

Mark do you have any explanation as to why ps is the industry standard? While I can work with images much better with PS, I find it easier to create graphics in ai, much easier.

I was working in starbucks recently (not an employee, I just like to do do coding there just to be around people) and met this person who is a day trader (stocks etc) and he has is own website where is sells his mentoring. His site is fully a WP site, but looked like crap. So I offered to create him some graphics. Point is, he could afford to pay for a web designer to create for him a beautiful website but chose wordpress because he was able to “do it himself”. Same thing with my friend who runs another joomla site. THis trend just has me a bit concerned.

That said, I guess I really shouldn’t worry about it unless I was to freelance, which I dont. Thank you for the replies.

[font=verdana]I don’t think it’s particularly a new trend. People have been putting up cheap and shoddy sites since the beginning, even when they can afford better. Maybe what they need to convince them is to have some actual potential customers who are put off doing business because they were so unimpressed with the site…

At the end of the day, it’s survival of the fittest, and companies that go cheapskate on their websites because they’re too tight/lazy/arrogant to spend the money on something better are the ones who are going to lose out. (Sometimes there’s a good reason … some companies operate on a shoestring, charging low prices to customers, and the fallout is that they can only afford the cheapest website. That’s fine, it’s a different niche in the market, but it’s a perfectly valid one)[/font]

I found that web designer and developer is a good career if you can kept up with current trend of web development. There are lot of people having business and want them be available online to increase their sales, but there are a lots of people able to do that. So study current demand, for example the needed of minisite, affiliate system, and many more. There is always a way to manipulate the system if you learn from monitoring current trends

Unfortunately, that’s the trend in all jobs… ask for more and do it for less… same with web development. In your case, your expertise in networking will definately help you even if you will not use it as much as you did before (by far). It gives you a better knowledge of how internet works at IP level and what can cause a bottle neck, how to know where that bottle neck is, etc.

They’re right up to a point. I make it on and off from the IT world all the time… I don’t see why you can’t. It is a case of what you know and how you can prove that you’re skills are still sharp.

Now, talking about web development, it is difficult to compete with the low prices offered by other countries and it is true that it is saturated. Nevertheless, if you really have a passion for it and you’re constant, of course, there are possibilities of making money. And the better you are, the more money you can make (althoguh in this case you need to be good, and know how to sell it :wink:

I insist… you can make as much money as you want in any career that you choose… provided that you have the passion for it. There’s lots of learning to do and the path is never easy (no matter which path you choose) but if you really like it, then it is worth it.

Life is short and you should be happy. You’re going to find all kind of problems no matter what you do… so you’d better do something you really like :slight_smile:

I’d say yes. In an increasingly technological world, there are always going to be opportunities.

Well, I will draw your attention to this job posting for the lulz. Web designer/coder good career? <lol><(0_o)></lol>

I just want to add that housekeepers in Las Vegas get paid $16 an hour and up.

What a brilliant question!

It all depends on you. If you’re not living in a major city and you have strong family roots then it might be a little tricky.

Those client/customers who are willing to pay the BIG BUCKS ideally want somebody locally. So again, it’s a trade off. If you’re not living in a major city then starting something up yourself would be a little harder.

I guess it all depends on your location. To give you an indication, working as a web designer on my local city would roughly get me 15,000GBP per year, in London that becomes at least double, tripple and in some cases quadrouple that.

Since I don’t like London much, and I would not be interested in leaving my home city to chase for more money then this would not be an option for me. That being said I could possible travel to London every so often to chase up client work, but again, this all depends on you and your willingless to travel.

In terms of the learning this should be enjoyable, if it’s not then I would side towards doing something else more enjoyable. I would not learn something in the hope of finding a job and a career if it’s not enjoyable. Our world has changed so much over the past 10 years, particularly on the web which means that this learning process would likely be done again and again and again!.

Just to highlight, when I first coded a website I used HTML4 and I hate to say it Macromedia Flash (as it was known then). Now many web designer and developers have dropped Flash for jQuery and we now use HTML5.

To sum things up, if you stop learning particularly in web design then you’ll quickly become old and outdated gradually loosing your stronghold over your field.

The competition depends on your country. Where I live 95% of businesses (small and big) would not be interested in paying more than 350GBP, many of those will even look online for cheaper solution (e.g. 1&1, Google web pages and VistaPrint, outsourced solutions), and this is becoming more of a problem. This is the sad truth, and changing their mentality is a very hard challenge.

This however does not stop me from keeping this as a hobby, I really do love web design, but that being said I don’t particularly enjoy it as a full time career option. Mainly because the money is not stable and in many cases, as you’ve already pointed out, you don’t get paid enough for the work involved.

On a similar note, I use to work at Gloria Jeans Coffees, and I was making more money there as a barman than I was working as a web designer for the top firm in the country. Sad, but true.

There are high paid web design jobs, but not only do you have to be in a major city, but you also have to endure at least a few years of “less than a barmade” salary. Is this fair? Hardly.

Unfortunately the market has become flooded with college and university graduates allowing companies to pay people who start a career what they like. This is not just isolated to web design, but pretty much any educated field it today’s world.

The only added downside to web design is that it’s a little like art, people do it for the passion and not always for a career option, this also changes the outlook of how people deal with you.

Let me explain, if you’re interested in freelancing take a look at this

I laugh now, but I have witness all of those kind of clients.

With client work you have to be careful that the customers take you and themselves seriously, and follows up with payment. It’s shocking on the amount of people I meet who somehow feel that I should work for free because I enjoy what I do. If you let them you will eventually become warn out.

I enjoy and love web design, so for me it’s a very good hobby I would like to keep and evolve it to whatever it branches off to, whether it be internet marketing or just a hobby site which earns me an income.

Hopefully my outlook and experiences have answered your question.

I believe so, the internet will always be around, so people to maintain the thousands of pages on said internet will always be needed.

There will always be a demand for Web Developers and Designers. Sales companies will always want to expand online and 9/10 sales businesses have actually got development departments dedicated to the web and generating enquiries.

However, I feel that designers are less likely to get office jobs and fully fledged careers… the demand just isn’t high enough.


While I can certainly appreciate and respect what you are saying, I have a hobby. I am a gamer and I don’t expect to get paid for it. We all have spent loads of time gaining the skills we have and lets be honest here. Designing a coding can be complicated and time consuming. It takes time and we should expect to be compensated for it.

I could spend literally hours doing design comps, should I not get compensated for that? I bought Adobe products, which arent cheap, should I also factor the price of that into my expectations, or should I have just do without Illustrator and photoshop and in design and do everything in MS Paint? Would the client be happy with the outcome?

Answer this question. Should housekeepers (most of which cant even put together a sentence in english) expect to get paid more than designers/devs?

BTW, Las Vegas is no small city. Over 1.5 million people live here.

Its a catch 22. Web designers/ devs should not settle for this amount of money, but we do because we know that if there is an artificial shortage of workers brought on by employers unwilling to properly compensate people then the business lobbying groups would just lobby congress for the right to import more foreign workers, thus bringing pay even lower.

So my conclusion is that no web designer or coder is not a viable career where you should have expectations of making a decent living, but if everyone knew that then sitepoints’ customer base would shrink and you could not sell books (of which I have many, and a learnable sub as well).

As mention this is not isolated to your field, it’s every educated field on the planet, they all do this particularly in the beginning.

I was getting more money as a barman, so I completely understand where you’re coming from. Exploitation is ‘Designs’s’ middle name.

This is not isolated as I mention, but you’ve pretty much opened another discussion where it’s worth pursuing a paid career by going to University. I can ensure you this was never as bad, but as it happens it’s very bad today.

With university fees in England going an all time high with 9K per year, one would question whether it would be a sound business decision to go through education. In theory one would hope that after a couple of years they would exceed the barmaid, some stick at it and don’t, and others change career paths but keep it as a hobby and others drop it completely. I would hope that if the worse came to the worse they would at least keep it as a hobby. Having the degree would prob. help them in other career paths. So it’s all very relative, and subject to debate.

Design competition can be fun, this all depends on your patience and your local economy. I participated in one, and I gave up because they holder was too demanding and I knew it was very hard to win with little incentive other than winning. That being said people from deprived countries would participate and even with a win ratio of 1/20, they would still be a lot better off than getting a normal job in their own countries economy.

SitePoint will always sell books and the community here will always be here. Many here feel that web design is their hobby. Some have different careers e.g. working for the coucil, being a teacher etc.

I don’t think SitePoint would ever stop selling books. If you’ve read any of their books you would understand why. Their books are so well written. The education sector will always need books in all fields (whether an career option in their studied field is worth puruing or not), and people would always be interested to learn. There will always be big international companies who want to learn more so they don’t have to outsource, and people will always be making a living from traffic alone.

On a humorous note, there is a degree in David Beckham Studies, and please don’t ask me what job you could get with this. I honestly feel universities are taking advantage of young people. I feel this would change as people are likely to demand job contracts before they invest in university, but this is subject to many debates which would otherwise go outside the scope of this post.

I completely agree, we should be expected to be compensated. That being said, if you stick at it you will find other ways to make money through the internet, and you might not necesserily be dealing with “Bob the Builder” who wants a super cheap website for nothing, or “Mr. Conglomerate” who wishes for you to code his website for free just for the honor of dealing with his billion dollar company, but your life will find it’s path, either via what you’re learning now, a related field, or a completely different field.

I hope I have answered your question.

With the use of content management systems such as WordPress, and the massive amount of cheap labour in India and surrounding regions, I think you’re wasting your time.

Just to elaborate, there are many people in India that will work for one dollar an hour and still do a reasonable job

That doesn’t mean that they provide quality or that they understand the business.

In any field you can find millions of people that do everything cheaper… but if you can back up your results and you’re really good, you can earn as much as you want.

It can easily be one of the best career options available nowadays. Given the oppurtunities available and the platforms that have made this job really competitive, it is indeed one of the best jobs there are!

molona, yes I know about the quality part. Every $1 staff is a self-professed “seo expert” that actually knows nothing but what they read on some page. I have hired and fired probably over 100 staff because they didnt even read plain english instructions. But literally only about 1 in 20 or so staff are worth keeping. The rest are a disaster.

But then again even staff i’ve hired for $30/hr have their lazy periods where things just arent done right.

That’s also true. Unfortunately, some people rate themselves too high as well, not knowing their real worth. In the same way, some people rate themselves too low. And, as you say, sometimes they have lazy periods… or maybe they simply have too much work somewher else… something that you shouldn’t notice at all…

Although in this case we were not talking about SEO, what you say is true in any field of web development.

It really depends on how much monay that 30$/h person knows and how much it saves you/makes you win when he’s not lazy… if the balance is positive, it may be good to have him around even if he’s not productive 100% of the time (which none of us is as we all burn out at some point and need to change batteries). Also, it would be interesting to know if that person is being lazy or is having difficulties to do a proper job for other reasons