Ten Great Reasons for Becoming a Web Designer

Opportunity to freelance and work from home. Web designing is a flexible profession; it lends itself to working from home. You don’t need much space or a lot of equipment. Everything can done online, even client contact. If you live where there are few job opportunities, want to combine work and family responsibilities, travel frequently, or have a disability that affects your hearing, health, or mobility you can still be a web designer. You can work whenever and wherever you want.

Creative, fun, casual work environment. Creativity is the name of the game in web design; suits and ties and formality aren’t part of the day-to-day design world. The atmosphere is dynamic and stimulating.

Contact with other people. Some jobs in the computer field can be great for people who like to work alone, but not web design. As a web designer you will work as part of a team. You may create the design, for example, but other people will do the coding, writing, and programming. While some web designers do it all from A to Z, most don’t. You will also have significant contact with clients, finding out what they want and presenting your ideas to them.

Work in the dynamic world wide web. For some people spending the day surfing and learning about the web is like being a kid in a candy shop. You can’t believe you are actually getting paid to travel in the virtual world. Combine design and technical skills. Web design uses both design and technical skills, which is great if you like computers but are interested in more than the technical aspects.

Solid pay and future. While salaries for web designers aren’t off the charts, they are good, particularly for experienced designers with skills in high-demand specialties. Seventy-five percent of women shop over the web, which means the demand for e-commerce sites is higher than ever, and is growing. As long as you keep up with the changes, you can count on a future in web design.

Cutting edge dynamic work. If you like to be in the forefront of new technologies and new media, web designing is one way to do that. Standards and communications techniques change at the speed of light; to stay afloat in your profession you will have to keep on top of the latest technology.

Work with computers. Web design is an art form that uses the computer as a medium. Web designing puts you in front of a computer without having to be an expert in HTML and CSS and other technical topics.

Multiple learning opportunities. There are many routes of entry into a career as a web designer. You can learn your craft in school, from specialized courses, on the job, or on your own. If you have the skills you may be able to get a job without a college degree.

Make a difference. You can help improve people’s lives by designing web pages for charitable organizations. Or, you can specialize in universal design in order to make the web accessible to the broadest possible audience.

People who enjoy their work are indeed fortunate. Learn as much as you can about a profession before you commit to it. Do volunteer work, take internships, work part-time while you are in school. There are lots of great reasons for becoming a web designer; make sure these reasons are what matter most to you.

Starting salary for a web designer

When embarking on a new career and looking at those first few offers from different companies, it can be difficult to choose the right one. There are a few factors involved such as location, benefits and of course, money. The starting salary for a web designer depends largely on the size of the company you may be considering and what your background is.

For those who have been a web designer for some time and looking to change companies or location, the salary is negotiable. This is where the amount of background and experience comes in to play. Those that have been at it awhile, tend to be able to ask for more when negotiating a salary deal than those that have just gotten out of school.

The average starting salary for a web designer, directly out of school, is around $22,000 to $30,000 a year. This accounts for the lack of real world experience and gives a good starting basis for the company itself to allow for advancement. The ground floor is where everyone starts in all business and web designing is no different.

The experienced designer, depending on how good he or she is and the amount of experience they possess, can make up to $60,000 a year with the right company. As you can imagine, to be at this level involves many factors and these differ from company to company. These factors may include things like degree(s) earned, years on the job and continuing training in advancements in web design.

When researching companies looking to hire a designer, look not only at what they offer but at what types of websites they have online. By seeing the type of work that they produce, you may decide whether or not they are the type of company you would like to work for or not. No matter what you do, being proud of your work is a big part of it and you should want your name on it.

A web designer with a wide background in all types of programming will definitely command a higher starting salary than one with only one or two disciplines. This is particularly true of those just coming out of school and looking for that first position. With no real world experience other than classroom work, the more certifications and training that can be shown to a potential employer, the better as this shows a willingness to learn.

Web design is an incredibly fast growing career field with limitless potential. There are many companies looking for new and fresh ideas every day. These may all be found by searching online.

When searching the Internet for potential employers, be sure to review everything that can be found regarding them. This includes their stability, benefits and time in operation. By knowing all there is about each company that is being applied to, the multiple offers you will no doubt receive will be much easier to sort through and the correct choice can be made.

Online Web Design Schools and Classes to Expect

Have you ever imagined yourself creating those brilliant and interactive web pages you see when you are surfing the web? Do you get interested in the many web applications you are learning to use during regular use of the web? Perhaps you are finding the job boards littered with new high paying opportunities for web designers and programmers and think that you may be able to fill their shoes. You may find yourself understanding web applications and elements more so than others, finding yourself proficient in the web where others may not be. Well, if so, you could be a great candidate for online web design schools that don’t even take time out of your day to bring you closer to the degree you need to pursue this profession.

Online Web Design Classes

There are many different online web design courses taken within a degree program in the field, ensuring that you understand the many fundamentals of the field. You will be taking several classes throughout a 17 to 24 month period, such as:
Elements of web pages
Cascading style sheets
Coding languages
Dynamic and static web design
Graphics and multi media

There are many more that are taken within the program with each web page design course focused on a different element of web design and creation, with the classes growing in intensity towards the end of the program, ensuring that you learn in a style that is understandable and builds upon previous knowledge and skills.

The Various Degrees

When you are attending a technical or associate degree program in web design, you will find the web page design classes to be a bit more basic and focused on entry into the field, as well as starting out in the profession. As the degree level progresses to bachelor’s and master’s there is a more managerial focus to the education, with web page classes that expand into the field and course through the higher level functions in the field. Entering the field of web design with a degree and/or certificate, you will have various income possibilities, ranging between $30,000 for entry level and over $70,000 for upper level positions. You have so many options in the field, whether you wish to work on a freelance basis, or if you rather take on a position within a company handling the web mastering for the organization in order to ensure adequate ecommerce and appropriate CRM efforts through the web site.

Have confidence in your abilities to grow as a professional in a field that you enjoy and take interest in. You have many online options with various regionally and nationally accredited colleges nationwide. You can even begin your education on one platform and transfer to another as you see fit, allowing you to test your options before your decision is set in stone. You have many educational opportunities for website design and creation, with many elements to understand and several skills that you will master throughout an accredited program online, with options for several levels to take you to greater heights in the field.

5 web design myths

Web design, like most things, is evolving at a lightening fast rate. What started out as a fairly simplistic system of tables, jpegs and text blocks has grown into a full scale graphic design platform with countless intricacies. Especially when you consider the recent surge in popularity for designer favorites, jquery and css3, it’s difficult to know where to begin . Taking all that into account it’s easy to get lost when designing a website, especially when you consider lots of the most commonly touted principles are in fact myths.

1. You must use every pixel.

There’s only so much space on the screen to make a statement with a web site, so in theory it makes sense that every bit of space should be used to the maximum. However, great designers know the importance of negative space and are never afraid to use it, in some cases, lot’s of it. Come on, this isn’t exactly a new thing in the world of design, the empty space between elements has been established as a key feature in the visual arts for hundreds of years. So don’t feel obliged to fill every little bit of space – give your designs room to breathe and they’ll be all the better for it.

2. Bigger is better.

Companies have a tendency to emphasize their logos on web pages, but remember that making a logo bigger doesn’t always make it better. While your corporate identity is important on your website, don’t allow it to over power your content. Spreading awareness for your brand is not particularly helpful if you don’t have great content to offer your visitors. The most commonly used technique is to place your logo in the top left-hand area of your page and it will be the first thing visitors see regardless of size. Look at some of the most popular sites, and pay attention to their use of logos.

3. You Only Have Three Seconds

In this current information age, everything is moving quicker. This leads to the often erroneous assumption that you have only a few precious seconds to capture a users attention before they clicks away from your page. Today’s web savvy users are a tad more patient than that. While you do want to engage the reader’s attention as fast as possible, your site should be created in such a way that it guides the visitors through the content, rather than bombarding them with information right from the start.

4. Good Design Means Complex Code

This one in particular is a a bit of a bug-bear for me. It’s easy to be convinced otherwise but let me make it clear, the best website is not always the most complicated one. While certain complex design features may lend a unique aesthetic feel to your pages, you don’t need huge strings of complex code to build a great website. Creative use of simple design principles can lead to beautifully laid out pages, whereas complicated code can often lead to jumbled aesthetics and a plethora of error messages. To put it simply, when you have more features in play, you have more things that can go wrong. My rule when it comes to design, both graphic and web is, simplicity is always better.

5. Design is Easy, Coding is Impossible

Web design has become something of a specialized field in the eyes of many people. They seem to think that the average web designer possesses some secret knowledge that no one else can possibly possess. On the contrary, web design requires two things. Designers need first, (and in my opinion most importantly) a keen eye for visual design, and second, knowledge of coding. That’s about it, no secrets or anything. Anyone can learn how to write valid code for websites if they study enough, but design sensibilities are the truly specialized skill. If you need a little help with your site, don’t be shy!

Domain Expiration: Don’t Let It Happen to You!

When you get a notice that your domain is about to expire, make sure you react, and react quickly.  There is nothing worse than having to let a client know that in their ignorance and lack of action that they have lost their domain name or will have to pay several hundred dollars to get it back if they can even get it back.

ICANN has rules on what happens when a domain name expires. However the charges to get it back are in part determined by your registrar. In several situations the client has ignorantly not responded to numerous notes from the registrar to renew their domain name. In some cases they felt that they were on auto renew, but did not realize that their credit card had expired that was on file with the registrar.

If you let your domain name expire, this is typically what will happen. First your registrar will give you a grace period, then they will repoint the domain to a parking page in some cases taking down your email and website. Sometimes they don’t do this, GoDaddy will hoping to get your attention. If you still don’t respond, then the registrar will take back and own your domain. You will have to pay sometimes several hundred dollars to get your domain back at this stage, but you really have no choice. If you still don’t respond, then anyone who had reserved your domain gets an opportunity to buy it. Finally the domain goes back on the open market.

I have seen some registrars automatically keep control of the domain for several months trying to get more money from you to return the domain to the original owner.

The bottom-line is that if you want the domain you should not let it expire. If you have, then sometimes the best action is to move to a new domain name. It simply may be too costly to get your domain back.

Routinely when I renew a domain I start 30 days out. Sometimes the client does not know the registrar and research needs to be done. Sometime the client does not even own the domain and work needs to be done to secure it first. DO NOT wait until the last minute to renew your domain, it is simply too crucial for your business!

Pros and Cons of Using Web Templates

There are many web hosts that offer free build your own website tools, so what are the pros and cons of using them?

When you would want to use a web template:

You do not want to pay a web designer or webmaster to create and update a website.

You are wanting to test out an idea or get on the Web as inexpensively as possible.

You plenty of time to create your website and consider it a labor of love and fun to learn and do.

When you would NOT want to use a website template:

You do not want your site to look like other websites.

You may want to move your website at some point. (A template site will not be transportable so your work and design cannot be moved.)

You do not have the time or artistic inclination to make the site look good.

You want to have your site place well on search engines. (Many template driven sites do not allow access to the source code to change meta tags.)

Flash is pretty but will not place well on search engines and you want good organic placement.

You do not want to be restricted by the template design, what if you want to put something where you want not where the template demands.

A professional webmaster will be doing your updates. Webmasters will want to work on your site quickly and not download software or learn an application in order to do a website update for you.

These are just a few of the things that you should consider when you think about using a website template. Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that some templates are better and nicer than others.

One of the biggest issues is that your sweat equity in your site is not transportable. Want to ever move to a new web host? Your site cannot come with you, the web host or template owner owns the images, page layout, and technology that makes it easy for you to update your website. From experience, this is the most important issue that many who are using templates forget!

Another comment, as a professional webmaster, we pass on updating and webmastering all template driven websites. It simply takes too long to work on websites of this nature and the constriction of the template for power users, such as us, is frustrating at best. So template sites are best for novices who are going to work on their own website as long as they have it.

Skills Required To Create A Website

Individuals and businesses, in particular smaller companies, often decide to create their own websites. The process is made easier with the help of software packages. There are, however, several other factors that should be taken into consideration. These factors include the level of skill and expertise in web technology required to create a functional, attractive web site, features the site will need to integrate and how much time is available to complete the project.

Choosing the right Software

To ensure that the creation of a website goes ahead as smoothly as possible, it is necessary to select the most suitable software package. Most hosting companies will offer a fairly comprehensive selection of software, applications and other helpful features a personal or business user can employ to add functionality and – if required – decorative aspects to their site. When selecting a host, it is therefore important to ensure that the necessary software, features and applications to achieve the site’s purpose are available. An individual wishing to sell products on their site, for example, has to make sure their host provides e-commerce applications, such as a shopping cart, access to a database and payment options.

Necessary Design Skills

Even when using some of the available design software, a person building a website must have some basic knowledge of HTML. A certain artistic flair, agreeable taste and an eye for color are also necessary. In order to produce stunning graphics and crisp, optimized photos that will load quickly, the designer will also have to have some experience in using graphic software. Another key skill is the understanding of how to develop and implement functional site navigation. For interactive pages or integration with online databases, the designer will need some JavaScript, CGI and/ or database programming skills. Marketing and business aspects are equally fundamental design considerations requiring experience.

Alternative Options

If there is an individual with all of these skills available within a business, and resources allow for this person to be tied up for the time it will take to build the site, there is nothing stopping the company from creating their own site. Without these skills and the necessary time resources, however, creating the site could prove to be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Valuable time may be wasted on a site that will not perform to perfection and will fail to achieve its purpose. In a situation like this, it is advisable to take the plunge and hire a professional service to do the job. This may cost a little more in the short term, but can in the long run save a lot of time, effort and money, thereby certainly making it worth considering.

If time permits it, it is of course possible to learn some of the skills necessary. There are many websites offering tutorials and informative articles, videos, etc, to show how certain aspects of creating a website can be performed and/ or made easier. Consulting these sites will assist in creating an attractive, functional website without having to resort to getting professional assistance.

A Brief Introduction To Seo

Whenever people are talking about the design of websites, the term SEO will come into the conversation sooner or later. So what is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which basically serves to make it easy for a search engines to find a website. To understand how it works, it is necessary to understand how search engines locate websites to begin with.

Basic Search Engine Function

Search engines are not manned by humans, but use software known as crawlers, bots or spiders to ‘crawl’ the Web. This is purely text driven, meaning the crawler will pick up on specific words or phrases, known as keywords, or key phrases. These keywords or phrases are indexed, processed, calculated with respect to relevancy and retrieved. The more relevant a keyword is to a search term, the more likely it is to be retrieved and result in the website being shown high up in the search results.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO involves using specific, relevant keywords within titles, articles and blogs to make a website more visible to search engines. For instance, if an Internet user was to type the words ‘motorbike engines’ into their search panel, the engine will then look for all sites that contain these words or closely related words, such as bike, engine, bike engine, and so on. As a rule, keywords are placed into texts at percentages of one to two per cent. Keyword density above this percentage can be regarded as stuffing and is considered to be bad practice.

Finding Relevant Keywords

The more relevant keywords are, the more likely they are to be picked up by search engines. It is therefore necessary to find the best possible variations of a term or phrase to use. This is made easier by keyword finding tools. One such tool, for instance, is offered by Google AdWords. Here, the user enters a proposed keyword or phrase, and the tool will provide a list of relevant variations. As well as listing these variations, the tool will also show how often the word is being entered as a search word and how many competitors are already using it on their sites. Other tools of this kind work in a similar way.

How to use Keywords

The fact that keywords have to be included within a websites content at a particular density to be effective without being seen as an attempt to fool search engines has already been mentioned above. It is, however, equally important to ensure that these words are blended well into the surrounding text, as the crawlers will take the surrounding words into consideration as well. In other words, it is vital for keywords to flow naturally with the text, as opposed to being placed randomly and out of context.

Used well, SEO will serve to increase relevant traffic to a website. In other words, by carefully considering the implemented SEO techniques and choosing keywords suitable to the overall purpose and content of a site, the targeted audience can be reached with greater success.

The Basics Of Landing Pages

Potential website owners will hear a lot about landing pages and how important they are to a website. So what is it that makes it so very different from all other pages of a website? More to the point, what exactly is a landing page?

The basic Definition Essentially, this is the first thing a visitor will see after following a link from another website. As such, it should provide all the information the visitor wants to see. Let’s face it, the visitor has followed the link to this page for a reason, and the first impression they get must show them that they have indeed come to exactly the right place for what they need. As a rule, a well laid-out, informative welcoming page will provide far better conversion rates than dumping a visitor straight into a home page and expecting them to try and find their way to the information they are after from there.

Considering the Content

This vital page of a website should match the promise made by the link the visitor has clicked on to get there. In other words, if the link has promised that the visitor can find information on and will be able to purchase a specific product or service, then that is exactly what he/ she should find here. In short, it should contain all necessary information on a product or service, including images, details on how or when to use the product/ service and price information, as well as -if possible – help files and/ or an FAQ section. Including evidence of relevant research and reviews will show that the site owner knows their stuff and will inspire confidence in visitors. Contact information should naturally also be readily available.

When to use Landing Pages

Targeted initial pages should be created whenever the website owner has some sort of control over where the visitors will come from and the purpose of the page is to achieve a specific goal, such as a sale, sign-up or registration, for example. They are particularly useful when the site owner is paying for the traffic they receive. This may be through pay-per-click campaigns, affiliate marketing agreements, banner ads or other sponsored links. Naturally, when paying for traffic, it is vital to monitor the success of the landing page to avoid paying out more than the page is bringing in. If the page is not succeeding in converting visitors into customers, it will have to be reviewed to avoid costs spiraling out of control.

Essentially, these pages will determine the degree of success a website achieves. It is consequently vital to ensure that it provides every bit of information visitors may wish to see, in order to convert them into customers, without over-loading it so much that visitors are unable to find anything and go elsewhere. The balance has to be right, and it is of equal importance to ensure that the page keeps what the initial link has promised, or visitors will be lost very quickly.

Dos And Don’ts Of Web Design

Designing a website can be a minefield. It is easy to make mistakes that will ultimately lead to failure in achieving the site’s desired purpose. Here are some dos and don’ts that will help to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Do provide relevant, compelling Content

Although this is not actually a design element, content is even more important than the design of a site, which is why this tip has to be included here. There is no point in having a gorgeous looking website if it is meaningless and has nothing of value to offer. Essentially, content must be rich in information, making it worth a visit. If advertising is part of the ways to make a profit on the site, it should not take up more than 25 per cent of the content. Any more than this and the site will be like a TV channel with nothing but adverts – visitors will switch it off.

Don’t use sleazy Elements

Scrolling and/ or blinking text, animations and auto-loaded sound will not only slow the loading of a website significantly, they can also be intensely annoying and distracting to visitors. The same goes for pop-ups. Background images also tend to make a website look garish, as well as slowing load times. Visitors want the information they are looking for, not gimmicks.

Do make things easy to Find

It is of utmost importance to ensure that visitors can find what they are looking for with ease. This means the website needs to be well organized, as well as using the minimum of necessary clicks possible. Having to click on multiple links to get to the info they are seeking is enough to put visitors off, as is having to scroll down reams and reams of text. Each page should contain no more than two screens of information, or up to six or a maximum of seven screens for long articles. Links to the top of pages and a home page link should also be included on all pages.

Don’t bog down the Website

Images need to be sized down to ensure they will not take excessively long to load into the visitor’s browser. There is a wealth of graphics software out there to do this efficiently, without compromising the quality of images. As mentioned above, avoiding auto sounds and animations will also greatly improve load times. The main point to remember is that visitors do not like to wait for ages, just to see some flashy image rushing across their screen.

Do consider Readability

To keep a website readable and improve the visitor’s experience, text lines should be no more than 650 pixels in width. Anything wider than that will make it hard to read, as will fonts that are too small or too fancy. Placing the text onto a textured background may also make it hard to read. Ideally, text should always be placed onto a plain background, with the font being in a color that is contrasting enough to be seen clearly.

Finally, it is wise to be sparing and considerate with links. Too many of them will confuse the visitor, and links to questionable sites will damage reputation. All necessary links should be explained, so visitors will know where they are heading when clicking on them. Again, home links should be provided so visitors can get back to where they started easily.