Starting Out In Web Design: Know Your Market
If you are hoping to become a Web designer, you’ll want to make sure you know what your market is ahead of time if possible. Are you simply looking to freelance? If so, you’ll want to be prepared to accept a variety of different projects. Or perhaps there is a particular company that you want to target or a specialty that you think you would enjoy. If you are able to get a feel for what you want to do, you can then pinpoint the specific qualifications for Web design that you’ll need to enter into that particular field. This can help you to find the right classes or target your training a bit better.
If you are unsure what skills you may need for a particular position it can often help to consult with a talent agency such as Artisan to find out what is desirable in the current market. They have their finger on the pulse of the industry–especially if they represent Web designers on a regular basis. Consulting with an Artisan representative can often help point you in the right direction, and they may even be able to suggest a training program or school. In addition, you will have then made a contact that can help you find a job when you finish your training.
Web Designers Qualifications: Shopping Cart Savvy
If you are looking to work as a Web designer in the world of retail one of the things you may be asked to do is to create a shopping cart for a client to add to their Website. This means that one of basic qualifications of a Web designer is having some type of experience in setting up this type of system. Although not every Website will have a shopping cart feature, it is something that is good to be able to add to your skill set as a designer. If you aren’t able to do this, you may lose out on some of the jobs that are available out there.
Shopping carts can be simple or complex, depending on the products and the kind of set up that the client desires. Some customers may simply want to sell a few items, while others may want an entire store on the Web. There are many different types of shopping carts you can use, and what you select will depend on what your personal preference is–or what your client would like. The important thing is having the skill set to implement this feature for a customer; it makes you far more marketable in the long run.
Web Designers Qualifications: SEO Knowledge
Of all the skills needed to be a Web designer, one of the most important is a good knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. This is crucial, because if you are able to design a website that has SEO power, you’ll be able to sell a client on your skill set much more easily. The page ranking one gets from a standard search is a very important thing on the Web, as it brings potential customers to a page or Website.
Basically, SEO can be considered a marketing strategy that is specific to the Internet. If you are schooled in ways to design Web pages for greater traffic, then you can not only design Websites, but improve on them as well. In order to do any of this, you’ll first need an understanding of things such as keywords, search engines and tags. Once you have a working knowledge of SEO terms and techniques, you will be better able to help your client achieve a good page rank when people search for them, their products or their services on the Web.
Web Designers Qualifications: Forums
Internet forums have become an important feature of many Websites, and creating them is something that has pretty much become an expectation when it comes to the skills of a Web designer. Forums are used for a variety of different reasons; some are social, while others serve as a place to get information. Clients may want to add this feature to an existing Website–or include it as a part of a new set up. For this reason, it is an important thing to be qualified in when it comes to Web design.
Web forums are often password protected, so that is a feature that you may want to know how to set up. Sometimes forums may also be paired with a newsletter, which means knowing how to work with a mailing list or database as well. All of these skills are things you will want to add to your arsenal, as they will ultimately make you a more well-rounded Web designer. And once you have become that perfectly well-rounded designer, Artisan can help you find the perfect company for you.
Web Design: Custom CMS Themes
One of the most popular freelance web designer job opportunities is
the custom content management system (CMS) theme. Those who use WordPress, Joomla, Geeklog and other CMS platforms often require sites far beyond what is available in the free CMS template market. If you’re serious about taking on freelance web designer jobs, your web design skill set should include knowing how to modify PHP, CSS and other code to customize sites using these content management systems.
The challenge of customizing CMS themes depends on which platform is used. Become familiar with the major CMS options including Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla. Some choose to specialize in one CMS only, but this is an area where a bit of market research is in order. If you find the majority of the freelance web designer gigs open to you are in WordPress, specializing in it is a good thing. If you discover more work from those who need Joomla customization, your time is well spent learning all you can about that CMS first.
One of the most helpful qualifications of a web designer is the ability to create platform-specific design. Imagine how in demand you will be with the ability to design iPhone-friendly applications. Just as with the ability to customize content management system templates and graphics, freelance web designer jobs that require specific knowledge of iPhone-compatible design can be plentiful, but they require specific expertise. As more companies recognize the importance of mobile technology, and creating web-based media to cater to mobile users in new ways, freelance opportunities are available for those who have the know-how.
If you already have skills in this area, consider doing a few small projects and see how you like it. Can you build a 100% mobile-friendly WordPress template? Create a new app for use with an iPhone? You can do it as a hobby as you continue your journey through web design until you feel ready to market those skills to an ever-expanding list of clients. The iPhone isn’t the only platform-specific opportunity for freelance web designer jobs, there are plenty of other platform-specific needs. Choose one you are familiar with and start from there.
What is FBML?
Looking for a freelance web designer job that is currently in big demand? Ever since Facebook was opened to developers, a big market has grown for custom apps. If you want to jump on the bandwagon for custom Facebook applications you can wind up using your web design skill in ways you never thought of, but first you need to learn the Facebook Markup Lan- guage or FBML. This language allows you to create applications that tie directly into the Facebook experience, including FB profiles, feeds and more.
FBML is a modified version of HTML with some features discarded and other, Facebook-specific attributes added. Some CSS attributes are deleted for security reasons, and FBML has a set of unique tags you will be required to learn to create apps properly. If you are already familiar with Facebook, you’re one step ahead of the game; learning FBML can give you much more flexibility and opportunity to score freelance web designer jobs or create and market your own apps.
Web Design Beyond Technical Know-How
Some beginning web designers make the mistake of concentrating their energy on the technical aspects of design with no study of the aesthetics. Do you know what a good website is supposed to look like? What makes a site visually pleasing and user-friendly? Good design is a combination of lean, effective code that works properly and has pleasing visual presentation. The responsibility for the success of any given destination on the Internet must be shared between graphics and Web design. Don’t neglect a study of visual aesthetics when you’re learning the ropes. It will come in handy later when you start looking for freelance Web designer jobs.
Voluntary Certification Programs
Did you know there are voluntary certification programs that have the potential to make you more competitive when looking for freelance Web designer jobs? There are a variety of these programs which can act as a “seal of approval” stamp on your resume. One is called the International Webmasters Association, which offers more than 100 official chapters around the world. IWA offers training and certification, but also features networking opportunities–an important resource for newcomers to the world of freelance Web design jobs.
Another agency, the World Wide Web Consortium, acts as a global policy group for effective Web design, implementation and development. A certification stamp from a recognized organization is a very effective means of telling the world you are indeed qualified and ready to tackle a new client’s challenges. Even if you’ve got experience working freelance Web design jobs and don’t feel the need to prove yourself, affiliation with one of these organizations or programs is an extra advantage.
For more help with finding available programs, contact an Artisan representative.