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7 Tips and Lessons Learned by Web Designers

Mara Calvello
Mara Calvello  |  May 29, 2019

All great websites start with a vision from a web designer.

It isn’t always easy to turn that vision into a fully-functioning website, but you believe that you have what it takes and are interested in learning how to become a web designer. Before you can roll up your sleeves and get started, you may be unsure of what exactly a web designer does during their daily lives.

To find out more about the ins and outs of being a web designer, just keep reading!

What it means to be a web designer

We asked five web designers, and those with experience in web design, to give advice to those interested in making a career change or are just starting off their career as a web designer. What have they learned along the way? What are some tips they’d like to pass along? Here’s what they said.

1. Strive for honest communication

“As a web designer, my day-to-day involves a lot of communication with clients. In fact, an estimated 60% of my day is spent communicating with clients to make sure I understand what they need and that their expectations are met.” 

- Jorge Sheffy, Head Designer at Loclweb

2. Keep the basics in mind

“It's very important that a web designer has basic web development skills. In particular, that would be understanding the three front-end coding languages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Why these languages? Because everything that a web designer lays out in pixels will be translated across a variety of devices (from desktop to iPhones and iPads, to... Alexa?). This is a concept known as responsive design, and if you don't understand these three coding languages, then it's difficult to have meaningful conversations with the developer who will eventually be building the site.”

- Chris Castiglione, Co-founder and Dean at One Month

3. Don’t ignore the warning signs

“The most important lesson I’ve learned is to learn to pass on ‘red-flag’ prospects. Red flags include: Not showing up for a scheduled meeting/call and not giving notice. Expecting their budget restrictions to reduce my fee without reducing the quality and quantity of work. Anyone who is generally high maintenance prior to a contract being signed. If someone doesn’t respect my time or the value of my work, experience has taught me that it will only get worse after there is a contract. No amount of money is worth the amount of stress a ‘red-flag’ client will create.”

- Karen Crye, Owner and Founder of Acme Digital Marketing

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4. Be better than the competition

“A lot of my work involves making performance improvements to get client sites to outperform their competition. I will also look for ways for our technical SEO to get better uptake from Google and Bing. Along the way, I have learned to rely on solid and proven technologies and not chase the latest, coolest thing, in order to accomplish this.”

- Shawn DeWolfe, Founder of Shawn DeWolfe Consulting

5. Consistently work with your client

“A typical day for me as a web designer includes creating website layouts using Weebly, which is a drag-and-drop website builder. I also regularly field client requests, such as content updates and email marketing, and provide direction to clients who want to make edits to their website. During my experience, I’ve learned to listen intently to clients’ ideas and business challenges, as well as to balance the design of a website with readability and function. Also, I always clearly define the scope of website work and emphasize the client's responsibility in generating a steady flow of content after the initial website layout is completed.”

- Susan Jones, President at Taylor & Jones, Inc.

6. Ask the important questions first

“Many junior designers expect that the clients clearly explain what they need, make a long list of tasks and technical requirements, and write all this using professional terminology. This is rarely the case! In reality, a professional designer will first listen to the client and ask clarifying questions to understand the real needs of their business. After doing so, a web designer will bring things forward, explain the possible options, and their advantages and disadvantages in a simple language. On the flip side, make sure you’re confident in your work because you’ll likely be asked a lot of questions back.”

- Maria Yushchuk, Senior UI/UX Designer at Beetroot

7. The mockup is just the beginning

“The first set of mockups is the tip of the iceberg. 80% of the work happens after. Making adjustments, tweaking the design to work in different contexts and scenarios, and making improvements to usability all come after. Because of this, create more flexible designs up front. Always consider different devices and screen sizes, as well as users with various disabilities.”

- Ben Ratner, Project Manager and Web Designer at AskLorem

A web designer’s work is never done

Okay, that’s not technically the case. But it’s clear that a lot goes into being a web designer, probably more than you originally thought and with more web design elements than imaginable. It’s a rewarding career, especially when you take your conceptual design all the way through to being a living, breathing website.


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Mara Calvello
Author

Mara Calvello

Mara is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. In her spare time, she's typically at the gym polishing off a run, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable. (she/her/hers)