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How do you get a job as a web designer?

Posted on November 26, 2020

 

Experience, experience, experience; it’s the key to becoming a web designer.

Most of my learning is self-taught over years of trying different projects in my spare time. I started with the basics, with an application called iWeb from Apple to create my first website. With a simple word processing style of interface, I had my first website ready for the online audience.

From there, I installed Adobe Dreamweaver to edit parts of the templates I wanted changing. My HTML and CSS skills improved in this instance, and I learned how to host a website and improve its technical and business performance. I followed YouTube videos and guides online to help get the website that I desired.

Over the first couple of years with my first website, I found niggling issues with its implementation. For instance, I wanted animation. This wasn’t something iWeb was able to offer at the time. The guides I followed frequently mentioned terms like plugins and themes, which eventually had led me to find the most popular content management system (CMS) on the web – WordPress.

WordPress gave me the creative to put together the website I wanted without pouring in hours’ worth of time for simple changes. I still required those skills from my early days of web design though, as occasionally I’d find plugins and themes weren’t quite matching up with what I had in mind. WordPress took time to understand, but that quickly paid off.

Over the course of an IT support career, I’d take my passion from outside work and bring it into the office. I’d find projects that would help the company, like a portal that indicated when systems were offline, thus saving calls to the helpdesk. Another such example would be creating a handmade intranet for a school that needed something maintainable and optimised for their systems. Finally, just prior to landing the role, I created an intranet based in SharePoint.

Each of these projects I mention utilises different skills. Not only am I capable with WordPress, but I have live tried-and-tested projects created with other technologies. Having this exposure really does help you become a true web designer, learning the benefits and cons of where different approaches suit.

So, to anyone thinking of becoming a web designer, I’d say the best place to start is in your spare time. Try a side-hustle, learn what it takes to have an optimised website. Explore the different tools available and find which suit your project’s needs. I cannot emphasise enough that WordPress skills alone will not make you a web designer. The foundation I laid in those early days still helps me to this day. Often, I create fun side-projects (like a soundboard or a game, for example) just to see if I can do it and put my cogs to work. I’d recommend learning skills such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript in an online course.

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