The demand for web designers has surged.
Whether you are a print designer looking to get into web design or someone looking to ensure that the designer you hire has web design skills, this article is for you.
Many that trained in traditional print design are trying to make the transition over to the web to keep up with the competitive design landscape. For some, this is as easy as picking up a book on HTML & CSS. For others, it may mean shifting their perceptions of how to design altogether.
After all, the experience of viewing and interacting with a website is entirely different than reading a full page spread in a newspaper. In this article I’ll present 7 crucial skills a print designer needs to acquire to become a good web designer.
XHTML is the foundation of the web. Learning this language allows you to build simple, text-based websites. Best of all you only need a notepad or text editor to start building basic websites.
Tools on the W3Schools.com website allow you to try your hand at learning HTML, such as in the above simulation.
CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, allows you to alter the appearance of your XHTML document by attaching a separate CSS style sheet to it. Combine this with XHTML and you’ll have a simple, good-looking site.
CSS is used on this website for an executive coach to provide hierarchy. This simple, yet effective text-based site uses headlines and one color to highlight important information.
Goliath Sportswear uses a clean, retro look on their CSS-based site. Hover states can also be indicated, which is utilized in the navigation.
3. Web Typography
While the print designer can relish at the array of typefaces available at their disposable to communicate a message, web designers must stay abreast of challenges some fonts face. These challenges include on screen readability and compatability between browsers and operating systems.
Adding the nuances of web typography to your existing knowledge of font families, appropriate use of line-height, kerning and tracking for clean, readable web typography will be necessary.
Services such as Typekit allow the designer to explore alternate type styles that were only relegated to print design a few years ago.
Text shadows, outlines, transitions, and even text gradients are effects achieved using CSS3. Doesn’t this example look like it was created in Photoshop?
Here is an example of how CSS3 can be used to create 3D text.
CSS3 has seen wide adoption from the major broswers and is a skill worth learning. You can achieve unique and compelling effects not only to typography but to the design of the site in whole through the use of drop shadows, gradients, borders, etc.
There’s generally more room for error in terms of images on the web as opposed to print. However, you should still have a solid understanding of the nuances pertaining to images on the web.
Here are some quick details:
- RGB – This is the color space used for the web.
- Image Compression – Image compression is 72dpi on the web. It’s also recommended to use JPEG (set to “high” quality, usually level 8 or 9) or PNG format for your image files.
5. How Design Effects Search Engine Optimization
Customers and employers are looking for web designers that understand the marketing side of web design. Part of being a good web designer, is understanding on-page SEO.
As opposed to off-page SEO, on-page SEO involves elements on the site you are designing.
It is likely that the SEO or Internet marketing person involved in the website redesign project will want to be involved in the early stages of the design process. This is because they want to ensure that the site will be accessible by search engines.
A search engine spider, such as GoogleBot, is a program that visits websites, reads the content and stores it in Google’s index. There are many design elements that can create speed bumps for search engine spiders or outright block them from reading the content on a site.
- Excessive use of Flash
- Building text into images
- Use of iFrames to display content.
6. Social Networking
Social networking is a skill relevant to anyone looking to promote themselves or their client’s services in today’s marketplace.
Clients will often come to web designers to not only build them a web presence but extend their brands onto social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Web designers are often asked to do things like:
- Design branding and imagery for a Facebook page
- Lay out and design a Twitter background
- Tweak the colors, fonts, etc on a YouTube channel
7. The Ability to Adapt to Change
It’s important as a designer to stay on top of industry changes and keep your skill set up to date. This means learning the latest technologies and coding languages so you don’t fall behind.
Plenty of industry blogs are available to aide in this process, including Smashing Magazine, Six Revisions, and Onextrapixel. Also join and be active on Twitter, as this networking tool is often a hot-spot for the latest developments in the industry.
Countless doors will open as a result of acquiring web design skills.
Being fluent in web design means more opportunity for multiple income streams while making you more attractive to potential employers or customers who are looking for versatile designers.
You can do this. Don’t be afraid, believe me, your design skills are in high demand on the web.
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