Web design is often regarded as an easy profession that any student can master and do remotely part-time from home or campus. However, things are a bit more complicated. And while it’s true that one doesn’t need higher education to become a web designer, there are still lots of skills that a professional in this field has to possess.
In this article, we’ve put together a list of the essential competencies that any aspiring freelance web designer should attain.
Spoiler: learning them can be time-consuming. So, if you are one of such students who are always busy doing homework, consider delegating your essays to essay writer service to spare you some precious hours – and learn web design instead! This way, you’ll have a profession or even a business before you even graduate.
And now, let’s proceed with the list.
1. Knowledge of the Basic Design Principles
If you’re a complete novice, start with learning the basic design principles. Problems can start as early as this step because there are so many articles on the internet that seem to deal with the subject. The problem is, the principles listed there are often different, and their numbers vary.
On average, there are approximately a dozen design principles that can be considered basic. Here are some of them – just to give you relevant examples:
- Hierarchy, and more.
However, you shouldn’t rely on popular articles if you want to study the subject. The best decision in such a case would be to find a textbook, take an online course from a respected school, or find a mentor whose experience you can trust.
2. Secondary Design Principles
Surely, there are a lot of web designers who manage to work effectively while having only the basic theoretical knowledge of the principles of design. Some of them have an innate talent, while others simply don’t work as effectively as they think they do.
However, if you want to stand out from the crowd and be regarded as a highly-qualified specialist, you need to dive deep. And while it may be true that no-one needs a degree in the field to be a successful freelancer, one still has to go beyond the basics and learn some secondary design principles.
Here again, opinions vary, but in general, some of the examples of such principles are:
- Color theory
- The Gestalt principles, and more.
3. Graphic Design Software
Well, that’s pretty obvious: professionals should know their tools. Once again, some may argue that many websites are made using website builders – but we’re talking about becoming an expert, aren’t we?
So, Adobe Photoshop should become your best friend. Among other popular options are:
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe InDesign
- Corel Draw, and more.
Of course, you don’t need to know all the software on the market to do your job well – you just need to try some programs and find the ones that suit your demands. However, it’s important to do thorough research and find out all the pros and cons of a particular program.
4. CMS, CSS and HTML
In a perfect world, designers deal with visuals, and developers deal with all the technical aspects. However, for freelancers or even small business employees, the reality is a bit different. So, any freelance web designer who wants to always be in demand, shouldn’t hesitate to learn CMS (Content Management System), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and HTML (HyperText Markup Language).
All these acronyms may seem intimidating, but they shouldn’t scare anyone who knows what it takes to pass an exam in college, let alone getting an excellent grade. You won’t even need much theory learning these things – what helps the most here is hands-on experience!
The question is open about whether a web designer should know something more than HTML. Strictly speaking, coding is not a required skill for such a professional, as it belongs in the web development field. However, knowing the basics of the most popular programming languages used in web development can be an added plus.
Such languages are:
- PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)
- Ruby or Ruby on Rails, and more.
If you’re a tech geek as well as a visuals lover, you can take the time and learn them. But if you’re not interested in the technical aspects, you can as well leave them to developers without any hesitation.
6. Soft Skills
Soft skills are becoming increasingly important in the modern world. For freelancers, such skills are equally or even more vital than for office employees.
To be able to function effectively, a freelance web designer should possess the following qualities:
- Communication skills
- Work ethic
- Time Management
Without them, it would be extremely difficult to succeed as a freelancer, even if you have all the hard skills necessary. So, invest time and money in finding your strong points and work on your weak ones. Don’t worry, it’ll be a clever investment, as soft skills will also help you boost your academic and overall life performance.
7. Other Skills
All that’s listed above may seem like a lot, but still, there’s more. The following competencies are also necessary for any freelancer who wants to build a loyal client base and never be out of work:
- Marketing and sales.
In big companies, employees often don’t care for advertising, marketing, and selling their services once they land the job – but freelancers need to be their own marketing, PR, and sales managers. So don’t forget about that part of the job, too!
Becoming a competent freelance web designer is definitely not as easy as some people looking for remote jobs may think. However, it’s not rocket science either. Every tech-savvy student with an aptitude for creating visuals is able to master this profession.
Anyway, whether you want to build a career as a professional or simply make web design your part-time job to help you pay for college, you’ll need to do a lot before you find your first client. If you’re ready to invest time and money into getting a highly demanded, well-paid profession and are convinced that you can succeed – go for it now!