So you want to become a web designer, but you have no idea where to start. Don't panic! It is not as hard as it seems, but it requires time and effort. It's very common to find self-taught web designers, but you've got to know where to start. In this post we'll be taking a look at the basic steps to become a web designer.
How to be a web designer:
Know the game
A web designer creates the visual elements of a website such as colors, layout, formatting, etc. He/She must have a good grasp of design fundamentals and learn how to use the main design software. Graphic and web designers are often considered equals as both of them must have great computer graphic skills and use similar software, but they are not the same. Web design requires specific knowledge of the field and certain technical skills.
The best software to become a web designer or web developer
The main graphic software you must learn to use is Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. In addition, it's also recommended to learn Adobe Fireworks and Adobe Dreamweaver. These programs aren't difficult to use, but they are very complex and it takes time to master them.
Luckily nowadays there are a lot of learning resources available, most of which are free.
Web design is a field in constant development, so you'll be in a permanent training state. You will always have something new to learn, and, while at times it can be overwhelming, it's also exciting and takes away part of the routine that is inherent to any job.
It's basic to have a keen eye for aesthetics and a proactive approach to technology. These skills have an important innate component, but they could be trained too. Search in blogs, books and your surroundings for inspiration. Keep an eye on incoming trends. But most of all, be passionate about your work.
Wanderer, you lay down a path in walking
If you want to become an expert (and be perceived as one too) you need experience, right? That means work done that shows what you can make. It's more than likely that you don't have clients when you are beginning, so a good idea is to start by making your own website. You'll need to have a portfolio eventually, but right now we are just looking for online presence. You can go back to it later and make something fancier when you've improved your skills.
When you are working for yourself it's easy to lose focus or to enter in an infinite loop of changes in your work. Our advice is to set a date for your website launch and stick to it. Make a work calendar and schedule all your projects, from your learning aims to the creation of your portfolio. Remember to be organized (keeping a to-do list can be helpful) and always (ALWAYS) test your work before launching it. Work on any project as if it were a paid one. That way, you'll be prepared for eventual troubles when you're working on a professional project.
Become a player
When you control the tools, know the field and have your own website, it's time to start working on projects for others. First thing you have to do is decide whether you want to work in a study or agency or as a freelance designer. Either way, there are some things you have to take into account if you want to be taken seriously as a web designer.
Build a portfolio site and keep it updated. Keep in mind that you're working in a constantly changing field, what three years ago was in fashion may look outdated now, so showcasing your most recent works is crucial to cast a professional image.
Analise your work, know what you can or can't do, where you want to get and what you are willing to learn. Being aware of your skills is important to put a prize on your work and market it. Don't underestimate yourself, but remember that your first jobs are not about making money, but gaining experience and contacts.
Design is a very subjective matter and web design is no exception. If you want to get the job, you must learn how to sell yourself. Work on your communication skills, create a personal brand, market yourself and remember to be organized and learn from your experiences, take problems as opportunities to learn and improve yourself as a professional designer.
Now you are on the way to success, remember it takes patience, nothing good comes easy. Have a positive attitude and enjoy the ride.
More information & helpful links
12 Tips for Becoming a Successful Web Designer [Webdesign tuts+]
Top Ten Signs You May Be Charging Too Little
Reader Stories: How I Became a Web Designer [About.com]
Complete List of Resources to Become a Web Designer