Web Designers are artists. They creatively, aesthetically and functionally merge visuals and content to ensure an immersive digital experience that is not only visually appealing but extremely easy to navigate. But is that all a web designer requires to know to attract great clients and make it big in the designing industry? Unfortunately, that is not enough. Today, professions aren’t as compartmentalized as it was maybe a decade ago. The boundaries between design and development are getting blurred. What the world wants is not a simple web designer. 2021 is the era of full-stack designers.
What is a full-stack designer? He or she has a set of skills that includes coding, UX and UI design, project management, intermediate level grasp over copywriting and Search Engine Optimization and a sound understanding of the development process. All of this put together makes you a desirable asset. A full-stack designer can not only conceptualize and produce the design-related aspects of the project but has a firm grasp over the development-related side of things. Such profiles not only attract good projects but as a full-stack designer, you can command a great price. However, it is not a walk in the park. A professional is expected to always be on his/her toes, abreast with the changes in the industry. So, if you are a web designer in 2021, either starting on your career or thinking of ways to upgrade your knowledge, here are ten skills that you must possess to make a difference:
- BE THOROUGH WITH THE MAJOR DESIGNING TOOLS
The equation is quite simple. The more you know, the better it is. As web designers, it is imperative to grasp tools that aid graphics, prototyping, image processing, and icon design. These include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Animate and MockPlus. Each tool has a different purpose, and knowing how to leverage them gives your work and profile a competitive edge. It makes you come across as a mature developer. It significantly lowers your workload because you can simultaneously supervise multiple aspects of the process without depending on an image specialist.
- HTML AND CSS ALL THE WAY!
- UNDERSTANDING THE NITTY-GRITTY OF UI/UX
A website aims to attract users because it looks great but because it is easy to use. The latter is the more decisive factor in retaining its customers and ensuring high conversion rates. Web designers must be well-equipped with User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) protocols. Essential things to always watch out for include neat layouts, logically placed content, impactful Call to Actions, straightforward navigation, easily visible navigation elements and intuitive ways to seek information so that users don’t have to repeat themselves. By incorporating UI/UX best practices, the designer ensures that users keep coming back to the website and don’t leave the platform before completing their transaction.
- PRIORITIZING RESPONSIVE DESIGN
- SPEND TIME ON CROSS-BROWSER TESTING
Web designers have an essential role in the testing process. That’s because they control how the final product looks and feels, regardless of the device that renders the page. Some of the standard ways to ensure that your page functions well on every browser are understanding the grid concept, using responsive images, and testing your product. The most common aspects that must be tested are base functionality, design, accessibility and responsiveness.
For this purpose, designers can consider using LambdaTest for their testing requirements. A cross-browser testing cloud, the powerful tool allows users to perform live, interactive and automating CBT on 2000+ real browsers and operating systems online. Designers can choose from several free and premium packages, depending on their monthly requirements and allocated budget.
- INCORPORATE THE PRINCIPLES OF VISUAL DESIGN
As a web designer, you may have an excellent sense of aesthetics. However, it is always great to know the foundational theories. This will help you position the different elements on the page scientifically to look pleasing to the viewer. Under the umbrella of visual design, the essential elements are design principles, layout principles, working with images and space, and typographical best practices. Studying them in detail will help you create a webpage that is a visual delight. Web designers must especially look out for pleasing color combinations, legible typefaces, high-quality images, F-shaped pattern reading and optimizing elements for the page to load faster.
- KNOW HOW TO WORK WITH THE WEB SERVER
Web Server Administration may not be entirely in the designer’s domain. Still, since it, such an integral part of the process, having a basic yet sound understanding of how it works will surely add to your skillset. One doesn’t need to know the in-depth details of the back-end. Still, overall knowledge of it significantly reduces downtime issues and helps you anticipate and solve server-related problems in designing the website and making your site function better. If a designer knows how a website reacts to different situations, they will create better designs.
- WORK WITH CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
Content Management Systems are software that deals with the organization of digital assets. Examples of such assets include embedded graphics, videos, audios, programming codes and web designs. In 2021, the most frequently used Content Management Systems are Joomla, Squarespace, WordPress, Weebly, Wix and Drupal. When web designers understand how the popular CMS platforms function, the structure itself becomes much more effective. It helps in running tests for bugs, adding plugins and modifying web pages. CMS’s are particularly useful in streamlining the process when dealing with content types that require regular updates (recipes, listicles, blogs etc.)
- LEARN HOW TO CONDUCT AN ENTIRE PROJECT
In 2021, clients are not searching for standalone workers who know only one skill. They want someone who can coordinate a project, from its inception to its completion. As a web designer, you must learn how to take charge of an entire project and see it to its end. It greatly enhances your reputation as a reliable asset but opens up several managerial positions in the future. Moreover, coordinating and understanding every layer of a project makes you aware of the issues that may crop and how you can resolve them, reducing your dependence on other actors in the process and saving precious time.
- SOFT SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT!
All this while, the focus was on the technical aspects of the job. However, soft skills play an equally important role in building your reputation as a reliable web designer. This isn’t an isolated workspace, and as a professional, your personality must exhibit certain qualities. The most important of the lot include honesty, time management, high levels of accountability, strong communication, discipline and self-awareness. Know what you can and cannot deliver. Don’t take on projects where you cannot meet the client’s requirements or timeframe. You may be a brilliant designer, but shoddy work ethics is the death knell for any professional.
Although this is a big cliché, change is truly the only constant. And since web designing is a profession that deftly combines technology with art, one has to constantly learn new things and be aware of the rapid changes in both spheres. Whether you are a fresher who is just out of college or a seasoned web designer, surviving and thriving in 2021 needs to always look out for new skills to learn and add to your skillset. So, alongside searching for projects that will enhance your portfolio, look for new topics to know that will add to your personal growth as a designer. Don’t think of it as “Hey, this is the content writer’s job” or “Why should I bother with the server?” When you understand the process, you’ll find yourself much better equipped to create impactful websites.