Perhaps you’ve got some experience in the web industry but unsure what to do next. Or perhaps you are new to web design and you’re just starting out. Whatever the case, you are not alone. There are many others like yourself who are still feeling their way around in the dark.
Image credit: Jaganatha
The web design industry is a big machine. Whatever dreams you may have of becoming an established designer might seem close to impossible. Especially since you run the risk of facing major problems like the lack of financial stability, lack of clients and jobs, and insecurity due to the lack of confidence in getting jobs etcetera. However, take heart. Nothing is impossible, but also know that nothing is easy.
If you are a new designer hoping to make a name for yourself in this industry, here are a few useful tips to help you keep afloat.
Your First Foray into the World of Web Design
You probably have many questions and concerns as a newcomer. Regardless of your background, knowledge or skill, you might still feel at a loss as to where to begin.
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It all comes down to the individual. There is no right or wrong in regards to how to, or whether you should even become a web designer. However, like any other career path, you must have drive and passion to succeed and be at the top of your game in the industry.
If you have a degree, don’t be complacent; having a degree doesn’t automatically mean that you will have a successful career in web design. However, as discussed in our previous article – Self Taught vs. Formal Education with Showcase of Design Schools, having a degree sometimes can give you an advantage.
In order to be successful, one must always be willing to continue learning. We continue learning every day of our lives. A web designer especially, will continuously learn something new because he or she can never know everything about web design.
With the rapid advancement of technology, it is necessary to constantly update yourself in order to keep up with the latest trend or technology and succeed in this field. This is where passion for the industry and the drive to excel come in handy. Self improvement is a must for all web designers.
Becoming a freelancer might come across as an easy path to take. If you have the technical skills, having the freedom to work when it suits you sounds like a great idea. But is it really? There are plus and minus points to being a freelancer. However, most experienced web designers will advise any newcomer that it is best to work for someone else first.
Don’t knock working for others right off the bat. Whether you start out working for a small agency or a large company, the experience you gain from those first years and projects there will teach you many things necessary to survive when you’re out there on your own. Working for others will allow you to learn how to communicate with clients without the pressures of messing things up while handling every aspect of the job. Also, working for someone else ensures that you have a stable income and be able to focus on the creative aspects and developing better technical skills of the job.
Portfolios – The Doorway to Success
Every web designer’s must have is a good portfolio to showcase their abilities. If you can’t even create a decent portfolio to advertise what you can do, how can you instill confidence in potential clients that they can entrust their projects with you? Put lots of effort into building a good portfolio website and your hard work will pay off eventually.
Image credit: ..Peter
Design software doesn’t come cheap. As a newcomer, you might not be able to afford a professional version of various design software. However, there are options you can consider. You can take advantage of a fully functional 30-day trial version of Photoshop. A more permanent alternative could be to use Photoshop Elements or to purchase a second hand version of the more pricey software in the market today. There is also free software that is available for download online like the ones shown below.
Not every designer can be good at both design and coding or programming. However, learning how to code and how to translate your designs for the web by reading online tutorials and books is a reflection of the dedication and passion you have for the field. Your willingness to learn and to upgrade yourself is an essential trait that will be attractive to both employers and clients alike. If coding is not your strong point, it can of course be outsourced. However, that would defeat the purpose of striking out on your own as a freelancer when you still need to rely on others to complete the jobs you take on.
Yes, your portfolio must be creative and give others a sense of your personality and style. However, you must not forget that it is first and foremost a showcase of your work and your skills. Prospective clients will need to see your previous work to be able to determine if they like what you can offer them. Prepare to be judged. Your portfolio will be one of the key deciding factors as to whether potential clients hire you or not. The problem with design or any creative field is that everything is subjective. Not everyone’s likes and tastes are the same. We are all entitled to our personal opinions. As such, not everyone will like your work. Learn to accept criticism and how to differentiate between the constructive criticisms from the negative ones. A designer must be able to handle criticism to grow and improve.
Here are a few simple but inspiring web design portfolios:
Blog Your Way to Recognition
Blogs are a popular trend at the moment. They are easy to create and maintain. In fact, having an online blog can work to your favour to support your creditability and to connect with your audience. With the many resources available to help you create a blog, the real question is not how to create a blog as a web designer, but why it is useful.
Image credit: D to the Kath
Blogs, short for web log, are basically an online journal or diary. People keep blogs for various reasons. Some use blogs to advertise their business and boost sales; others use blogs to network, or purely for personal reasons and purposes.
Web designers can use blogs to support their portfolio and to promote themselves as designers. It is also a very good way to boost search engine rankings. Each time you publish an entry, you increase the likelihood of your blog being discovered. This will in turn help you to be recognised as a designer.
It is also a good way to allow your clients to get to know you better and to determine if you are a person worth working with. It is not just important to be a good designer. You must also be a person of good character in order to attract potential clients to trust you and seek you out to handle their projects.
As such, ensure that the quality of your blog is relevant and interesting to readers so that you will gather a following and make a name for yourself.
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