- A Designer Is As a Designer Does, Sir: A Job Overview
- What We Have Here Is an Opportunity to Communicate
- Can You Handle It?
- About This Article
What do designers do? Designers organize information, shape identities, and create memorable experiences that entertain while communicating. Increasingly, designers are performing these tasks on the World Wide Web (the Web, to its friends). If you're reading this article, you're either doing the work already, thinking of migrating to the field, or considering adding web design to your repertoire of existing services.
Whether you design websites full-time or just occasionally, you'll be helping to shape what may be the most inherently profound medium since the printing press. The Web is vast, intrinsically democratic, and dripping with creative, personal, and business potential. Oddly enough, for something that gets used and talked about every day by hundreds of millions, it is also quite often misunderstood by practitioners as well as users.
Before you do anything drastic, such as buying "web software," changing your career, or leaving that louse who is only pretending to love you, it makes sense to find out where you are going and what you will be dealing with. So let's start by examining what is a Web designer anyway?
A Designer Is As a Designer Does, Sir: A Job Overview
We'll start with a working definition.
Web designers are professionals who solve a client's communication problems and leverage the client's brand identity in a web-specific way.
Complementing this focus on the client's needs, web designers must think like the site's anticipated audience. They foresee what visitors will want to do on the site and create navigational interfaces that facilitate those needs.
Pretty dry stuff, we'll grant you, but like marital bliss, it's better than it sounds.
How does this all this fancy talk break down in terms of daily tasks? Below is a summary of deeds you'll do during the web development project lifecycle.
Through the project lifecycle, the web designer will need to:
Understand and discuss the underlying technologyits possibilities and limitations as well as related issueswith clients and team members.
Translate client needs, content, and branding into structured website concepts.
Translate projected visitor needs into structured website concepts.
Translate website concepts into appropriate, technically executable color comps.
Design navigation elements.
Establish the look and feel of web pages, including typography, graphics, color, layout, and other factors.
Render design elements from Photoshop, Illustrator, and other visual development environments into usable elements of a working website.
Lay out web pages and sites using HTML and other web development languages.
Organize and present content in a readable, well-designed way.
Effectively participate on a web development team.
Modify graphics and code as needed (for instance, when technological incompatibilities arise or when clients' business models changeas they often do in this business).
Try not to curse browser makers, clients, or team members; obstacles are encountered throughout the process. (Well, go ahead and curse browser makers if you want to.)
Update and maintain client sites as needed. Though this job, too, often falls to web technicians or producers, don't think you're off the hook. You're never off the hook.