Who is a Web Designer? Job Descriptions, Salaries, and Skills Required to Become One

The world had started going online long before the days of COVID-19. But the global pandemic has accelerated the shift in ways we never imagined. As businesses fight tooth and nail to survive in the new reality, web design and development is emerging as one of the rapidly growing digital industries.

Why Web Design is Flourishing Now? 

Over the last 12 months, we have seen huge spikes in online media consumption and website traffic with people spending more time online and accessing digital services from their homes. 

DesignRush' Q3 Industries Report, which analyzed the impact of the COVID crisis on the demand for web design and development services, found that 91.2% of respondents reported a peak in demand for at least one area of website design and development services. 

A recent research by IT analyst firm, AppDynamics, concluded that managing traffic spikes has been the biggest IT headache for most companies and the most critical aspect of delivering seamless customer experiences during the pandemic.     

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The same study also pointed out that though 88% of companies made digital customer experience their priority, they feel they lack the resources to implement the shift. 

Consider these stats:

  • 75 per cent of users form their opinion of a business by judging the aesthetics of their website, and as many as 38 per cent of users will not return to a site if it has an unattractive layout.
  • In less than 10 seconds visitors decide whether to trust the company merely on the basis of how a website looks
  • 88 per cent of people do not return to websites that have a frustrating user experience.

Clearly, the stakes are high for businesses, and the risks of losing out to competitors can be far too great. 

It's no secret that digital teams worldwide feel the pressure of being inadequately staffed. Now with nearly every businesses scrambling to build their presence online, they are on a spree to hire skilled tech talents to keep their shops running. 

For web designers, this means the doors of new opportunities are flung wide open. Although web design and web development were already high-growth career paths, this surge in demand for these roles has made them a "hot commodity". 

All in all, there hasn't been a better time to become a web designer. By staying on top of the latest web design trends and learning new techniques, you can earn good money for your skills (more on that later). 

First, let's cover some basics.

What Does a Web Designer Do?

Web designers plan and create web pages with the help of texts, images, graphics, sounds, and video clips. 

Broadly speaking, web designers "design" a website, which could give a notion that they deal with just the aesthetics and visual appearance of it. But that's not the case. It's also their job to make sure the website is functional and easy to navigate for visitors. 

As professionals with a foot in both the creative and technical worlds, they must have creative graphic skills along with technical skills to ensure the website's design allows it to perform as splendidly as it looks. 

People often confuse the role of a web designer with that of a web developer. While both work together to get a beautiful website up and running, and often these roles will overlap, there are some differences that set them apart. 

Considering how closely they work, knowing these differences are a must for aspiring web designers as well as for those thinking about becoming a web developer

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Web Designer vs. Web Developer: What's the Difference? 

While a web designer traverses both the creative and technical worlds, their most important skill is being a graphic artist who has the finer understanding of fonts, colors, layouts and other visual elements, and how to combine them effectively to create the whole personality of a website. 

They use graphic design software like Photoshop, Illustrator, and GIMP to create the visual aspects, while also coding with HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to give a basic structure to their designs and make them suitable for a variety of devices. 

A web developer, on the other hand, is someone who goes under the "skin" of a website to turn the design into a working reality. In other words, they build websites and applications using technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and .Net, PHP, and Ruby, to name a few.  

Now, you might not need serious coding skills to become a web designer. But it is worth knowing that designers with next-level skills like JavaScript and Sass are a prized commodity, often termed as "Unicorns", for the rare blend of designer/developer skills they bring to the table. 

If you have a basic web design certificate under your wings, you mostly have everything you need to up your programming skills through a course like Web Development Certification Course and morph into an elusive unicorn!

What a Web Designer Job Description Looks Like

Before you decide to build a career in web design, it pays to know the responsibilities a web designer is expected to fulfil and how your day as one might look like. 

On the most basic level, a web designer is responsible for creating the design and layout of a website or a landing page (a single web page often used by marketers to draw traffic for running a promotional or campaign). 

It might not be apparent, but there's more to designing than playing with fonts, colors, and pictures. While the exact job function varies from team to team, a web designer typically needs to shoulder the following responsibilities: 

  • Working with clients to identify their needs and conceptualize creative ideas
  • Establishing design specifications, guidelines, and standards
  • Designing sample page layouts 
  • Taking care of domain names and hosting of the website, if not done by the client
  • Presenting design ideas to clients using process flows, user flows, sitemaps and wireframes
  • Designing and coding using a variety of software
  • Working with different Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Making the website search engine friendly through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices
  • Meeting legal standards such as site security, accessibility standards, freedom of information and privacy
  • Ensuring that the website's visual imagery is aligned with the client's goals and branding policy
  • Collaborating with other specialists like web developers, digital marketers, SEO experts etc. 
  • Proofreading and editing content
  • Debugging code and re-designing web pages
  • Conducting tests to ensure the website is working as planned

As a web designer, the hiring companies you'll come across are mostly:

  • Software companies
  • Tech consultancies
  • Specialist web design agencies
  • Full-service digital agencies
  • Large corporates

The key skills required to shine in this career include:

  • Creative imagination and the ability to think out-of-the-box
  • Attention to detail
  • Proficiency with the Adobe Suite – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
  • Working knowledge of HTML and CSS, while familiarity with jQuery and JavaScript are excellent add-ons
  • User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)
  • Good analytical skills and communication skills
  • Basic SEO knowledge
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Design a Rewarding Career as a Web Designer Today!

The average annual pay of an entry-level designer in India is ₹280,365, while the same in the US is $50,747 (as of Dec 2020). Those are just the starting figures, and you can easily command double or even triple the amount by just upskilling or specializing in a specific area of web design. For example, switching into UX design can bump up your median annual salary to a sizable ₹666,350 in India and $74,252 in the US. 

To get a foot into the door as a web designer, you hardly need a formal qualification. In fact, it's totally possible to be self-taught and successful in this field. Especially, if you're looking to work as a part-time design consultant or trying to build a full-fledged freelancing career in web design, you can flourish regardless of qualification. 

However, a background in digital media, graphic design, information technology or computer science can work to your advantage if you want to land a job with your dream design agency. 

On the basis of how quickly you can upskill in emerging technologies, the role of a web designer can take many different directions. As we mentioned before, adding solid programming skills to your resume through industry-leading courses like Simplilearn's Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development can contribute significantly to your career progression and let you explore a host of new opportunities.

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