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Web Designer


How to Become a Web Designer
Web Designer Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of Web Designers
Web Designer Salary
Influential Professional Web Designers
Leading Web Designer Organizations
Top Cities for Web Design Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Web Designer

Web designers train and educate themselves in any number of ways. Some apprentice at design studios, while others enter educational programs at local community colleges and in educational outreach programs. There are also prestigious design schools, such as the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Pratt Institute. Others turn autodidact and teach themselves the skills necessary to be a web designer and then continue in the profession as freelancers, at design studios or as members of corporations and organizations.

The relative affordability of the modern computer and wide-availability of design software, such as Adobe's Creative Suite, combined with any number of excellent books on web design, means it has never been easier or less expensive to learn advanced web design techniques. Of course, the contacts one makes as part of a structured training program, either as an apprentice or as an undergraduate, will likely prove crucial in establishing oneself in the profession. Nevertheless, one can certainly develop the pure skill and knowledge needed to be a successful web designer at home and with minimal financial investment.

What does a Web Designer do?

Web designers generally conceptualize, layout and code content for the Internet. The intention is for this content to be read and displayed by web browsers after uploading it to one or more web servers. Since the contemporary Internet is an increasingly complex organ, composed of many types of media, including text, images, music, animations, videos, etc., early twenty-first century web designers must not only have an acute sensitivity to effective layouts and design, but also be fluent in a range of technologies, hardware, software and mark-up languages, such as HTML and CSS, and server-side languages such as PHP and ASP.

As this suggests, in contemporary usage, the term "web designer" has come to be much more diverse than it was in the early days of the web. In the early 1990's, web design generally involved nothing more than marking up text and images with HTML and then uploading the files to one or more servers. Now, though, web designers routinely possess a range of skills, including the ability to code in server-side languages; knowledge of video and sound editing software for embedded videos and podcasts; the ability to operate audio/visual recording equipment, in order to produce a/v content, and the graphic and animation design software expertise necessary to create rich, dynamic designs.

Because of the important role the Internet plays in contemporary life, almost every organization, in both the public and private sector and many marquee individuals, such as celebrities and politicians, maintain websites. Therefore, web designers must work for a diverse range of employers, including media outlets, businesses, non-profits, public service organizations and individuals. They also frequently work as full-time or part-time freelancers and in partnership with other web, graphic and art designers at design firms and ad agencies of all sizes.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Web Designer?

An effective web designer must have a keen eye for design, a methodical, exacting nature and the patience to test, troubleshoot and perfect designs in any number of browser and operating system environments. Since they often work with and oftentimes under, art directors, customers and creative teams, web designers must also be able to accept constructive criticism and communicate effectively.

While most modern web designers possess many of the skills already outlined, at minimum they should have a working knowledge of HTML and CSS, Adobe's Dreamweaver and FTP clients, such as Fetch. They must also understand the fundamentals of web hosting and domain registration. Since a great deal of crossover exits between the fields of graphic design and web design, most web designers also find themselves conversant with other elements of Adobe's Creative Suite, including Photoshop and if animations are to be added to a project, Flash.

How much does a Web Designer make?

`In most major markets, freelance and small design house web designers may expect to make around $75/hour while those employed at large corporations and other organizations in those same markets will be salaried in the $55-65,000 range.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

The phenomenal rise of the web during the 1990's and 2000's means that there are any number of influential web designers. Often credited with developing the first website, in August 1991, Tim Berners-Lee combined hypertext, that is, the ability to navigate text non-linearly using hyperlinks, along with Internet communication methods, like email and Usenet, using a primitive form of the mark-up language HTML. Håkon Wium Lie and Bert Bos developed and standardized CSS, the other workhorse language of the modern web, in the early 1990's.

The two most important modern tools of web designers, namely Flash and Dreamweaver, developed independently of one another. Jonathan Gay and his partners at various software companies developed Flash in 1990's. Today, the program is the standard for web animation, while its multimedia and application player has become the standard for playing video and other media files on the web. First developed by Allaire Systems and then Macromedia, Adobe's Dreamweaver first appeared in the late 1990's and, as it and other HTML editors grew in popularity, liberated web designers from the hand coding of websites.

Now, after a series of mergers, Adobe stands as the preeminent developer of web design software, with its successful series of Creative Suites, which is now, as of late 2008, in its fourth edition.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Arguably, the most important professional organization associated with web design is W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3.org/Consortium/). The W3C works with web professionals and its own staff to develop the standards used by virtually every web designer and "to lead the www to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web."

Other professional organizations associated with web design, include IWA-HWG, the International Webmasters Association/HTML Writers Guild (http://www.w3.org/) and IMC, the Interactive Media Council (http://www.interactivemediacouncil.org/), a nonprofit "comprised of leaders and experts from various areas of web-related business and dedicated to elevating the standards of excellence on the Internet." The IMC governs the Interactive Media Awards (http://www.interactivemediaawards.com/), which honor "outstanding achievements in website design and development".

What are the top cities for Web Design jobs?

Since virtually every business and organization maintains a website, web designers work in nearly every city in the US. Therefore, while traditional media-heavy areas such as Southern California, New York City and Atlanta remain the most favored places, almost any major city would offer an abundance of opportunity. Likewise, small businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs in even the smallest markets know a website is de rigueur and vital to their success. Therefore, one could convincingly argue that anywhere in the US would offer opportunities for web designers to flourish.

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