Thinking of web design as a career?

17th March 2014

We recently appointed a new front end web developer, Tom Leman, who came to us after a thorough search. Even though recent times have been tough even for experienced job hunters, it also proved tricky for us to find someone right to join our team. Not only did we need awesome technical skills, a new member of the team had to possess the right personality, attitude and approach to the job. Furthermore, they needed a passion for design and technology, and an appreciation of coffee, music and Lego. That’s quite a combination.

Since websites became a ubiquitous feature of everyday life, website design has been an attractive career choice for people wanting something creative and lucrative with a long term future. If you’re thinking of starting or switching to a livelihood in website design, here are some thoughts you might want to consider.

It’s not all about you

As Michael Jackson gently crooned: ‘you are not alone’…although he possibly wasn’t singing about website design as a career choice. But if he was, the King of Pop would have rasped that competition is pretty strong (shamon!). There are many ways to learn web design, from specialist degree courses in website or multimedia design right down to part-time or remote learning modules over the web. But however you learn the trade, at the end you’ll have to do excellent work to make a good living from it. If you’re going freelance you’ll need to differentiate yourself and develop a strong reputation for skillful work, and if you’re going in-house you’ll face stiff competition to get employed on a decent wage.

But is it art?

If you’re a predominantly right brained (creative) person looking for a soul-fulfilling vocation, ensure that you appreciate the difference between design and art. It’s possible to enjoy - and be good at -art and still make an untalented and frustrated designer. Design involves structure, conventions and principles. Not only that, you need to design according to the client’s wishes even if they conflict with your own opinions. If this sounds onerously restrictive to you, you might benefit from trying an internship as a designer before you put all your eggs in the web design basket. To be a great web designer you don’t necessarily need to be an expert coder but knowing how your design will be coded helps inform how you design. At Studio Republic Barney is responsible for the design aspect while Chris is the code master. Together we create the front and back end of our websites like two sides of a coin.

Unpleasant bits

Just like showbiz, there’s a lot of boring behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on, unseen. Website design isn’t all about money, glamorous parties and make-up – in fact, we hardly get to wear any at all these days. Launching a website on time and within budget means being organised and having good project management skills. You also have to deal with a range of different clients who might be unrealistic or uncooperative but you have to keep them happy if you want to retain their business.

If you’ve done your research, some brainstorming and a bit of soul-searching and you still think web design is the path for you – get stuck in! Immerse yourself in learning about this rich and innovative discipline. It’s a continuously evolving business so your learning should never stop, especially if you want to stay sharp and in demand. Studio Republic have been going for nearly 10 years and we hope to continue our progress and build on our accomplishments for many years more. Who knows – if this blog post hasn’t deterred you from becoming a brilliant web designer we might be inviting you in for an interview one day.