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Consider that the day-to-day upkeep of your household requires you to be part-time chef, housecleaner, accountant, diplomat, gardener, and construction worker but to you it s just the stuff you do around the house.
In the same way, as a solo web designer, you may be a part-time graphic designer, writer, HTML author, and information architect, but to you, it ll just feel like making web pages. Nothing to worry about. There are also specialists out there whom you can hire to fill in the skills you don t have. For example, I have been creating websites since and I still hire programmers and multimedia developers when my clients require interactive features. That allows me to focus on the parts I do well in my case, it s the content organization, interface, and visual design.
Large-scale websites are almost always created by a team of people, numbering from a handful to hundreds. In this scenario, each member of the team focuses on one facet of the site-building process. If that is the case, you may be able to simply adapt your current set of skills writing, Photoshop, programming, etc. I ve divided the myriad roles and responsibilities typically covered under the umbrella term web design into four very broad categories: design, development, content strategy, and multimedia.
If you are not interested in becoming a jack-of-alltrades solo web designer, you may choose to specialize and work as part of a team or as a freelance contractor.
Design Ah, design! It sounds fairly straightforward, but even this simple requirement has been divided into a number of specializations when it comes to creating sites. Here are a few of the new job descriptions related to designing a site, but bear in mind that the disciplines often overlap and that the person calling herself the Designer often is responsible for more than one if not all of these responsibilities.
User Experience, Interaction, and User Interface design Often, when we think of design, we think about how something looks. On the Web, the first matter of business is designing how the site works. Before picking colors and fonts, it is important to identify the site s goals, how it will be used, and how visitors move through it.
There is a lot of overlap between these responsibilities, and it is not uncommon for one person or team to handle all three. The goal of the Interaction Designer is to make the site as easy, efficient, and delightful to use as possible. Closely related to interaction design is User Interface design, which tends to be more narrowly focused on the functional organization of the page as well as the specific tools buttons, links, menus, and so on that users use to navigate content or accomplish tasks.
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A more recent job title in the web design realm is the User Experience Designer. The UX designer takes a more holistic view ensuring the entire experience with the site is favorable. UX design is based on a solid understanding of users and their needs based on observations and interviews. According to Donald Norman who coined the term , user experience design includes all aspects of the user s interaction with the product: how it is perceived, learned, and used.
The experience must be in line with the organization s brand and business goals in order to be successful.
Some of the documents an IxD, UI, or UX designer might produce include: User research and testing reports Understanding the needs, desires, and limitations of users is central to the success of the design of the site or web application. This approach of designing around the user s needs is referred to as User Centered Design UCD , and it is central to contemporary design.
Site designs often start with user research, including interviews and observations, in order to gain a better understanding of how the site can solve problems or how it will be used. It is typical for designers to do a round of user testing at each phase of the design process to ensure the usability of their designs.
Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics
If users are having a hard time figuring out where to find content or how to move to the next step in a process, then it s back to the drawing board. Wireframe diagrams A wireframe diagram shows the structure of a web page using only outlines for each content type and widget Figure The purpose of a wireframe diagram is to indicate how the screen real estate is divided and indicate where functionality and content such as navigation, search boxes, form elements, and so on, are placed, without any decoration or graphic design.
They are usually annotated with instructions for how things should work so the development team knows what to build. Site diagram A site diagram indicates the structure of the site as a whole and how individual pages relate to one another.
Learning Web Design, 4th Edition
Figure shows a very simple site diagram. Some site diagrams fill entire walls! Wireframe diagram. Figure A simple site diagram. Storyboards and user flow charts A storyboard traces the path through a site or application from the point of view of a typical user a persona in UX lingo.
It usually includes a script and scenes consisting of screen views or the user interacting with the screen. The storyboard aims to demonstrate the steps it takes to accomplish tasks, possible options, and also introduces some standard page types. Figure shows a simple storyboard. A user flow chart is another method for showing how the parts of a site or application are connected that tends to focus on technical details rather than telling a story.
For example, when the user does this, it triggers that function on the server. It is common for designers to create a user flow chart for the steps in a process such as member registration or online payments. A typical storyboard [courtesy of Adaptive Path; drawn by Brandon Schauer]. Visual graphic design Because the Web is a visual medium, web pages require attention to presentation and design. A graphic designer creates the look and feel of the site logos, graphics, type, colors, layout, etc.
Visual designers typically generate sketches of the way the site might look, as shown in Figure They may also be responsible for producing the graphic files in a way that is optimized for delivery over the Web see Chapter 21, Lean and Mean Web Graphics for image optimization techniques.
If you are interested in doing the visual design of commercial sites professionally, I strongly recommend graphic design training as well as a strong proficiency in Adobe Photoshop the industry standard or Adobe Fireworks. Look and feel sketches for a simple site. Chapter 1, Where Do I Start? Style Tiles Another approach to capturing the look and feel of a site is to create style tiles, which give examples of color schemes, branding elements, content and UI treatments, and mood boards without applying them to a specific page layout.
The idea is to agree upon a consistent visual language for the site. For more on this technique, read the article Style Tiles and How They Work, by Samantha Warren and visit her excellent site where you can download a template at styletil. If you are already a graphic designer, you will be able to adapt your skills to the Web easily, although this will not excuse you from acquiring a solid understanding of HTML, CSS, and other web technologies.
Because most sites have at least a few images, even hobbyist web designers will need to know how to create and edit images, at minimum. Again, I want to note that all of these responsibilities may fall into the hands of one designer who creates both the look and the functionality of a site.
But for larger sites with bigger budgets, there is an opportunity to find your own special niche in the design process. Development A fair amount of the web design process involves the creation and troubleshooting of the documents, style sheets, scripts, and images that make up a site.
At web design firms, the team that handles the creation of the files that make up the website or templates for pages that get assembled dynamically is usually called the development or production department.
Web developers may not design the look or structure of the site themselves, but they do need to communicate well with designers and understand the intended site goals so they may suggest solutions that meet those goals. If you want a job as a web developer, you need to have an intricate knowledge of HTML and how it functions on various browsers and devices. The HTML specification is constantly evolving, which means you ll need to keep up with the latest best practices and opportunities as well as bugs and limitations.
The good news is, it s not difficult to get started, and from there, you can gradually increase your skills. In fact, there is a popular argument that in order to call yourself a web designer, you must be able to build your designs yourself, and nearly everyone agrees that your job prospects will be better if you are able to code as well as design.
Again, if you are interested in working in web development, knowing your way around CSS and how it is supported or not supported by browsers is guaranteed to be part of your job description. Scripting and programming As the Web has evolved into a platform of applications for getting stuff done, programming has never been more important.
It adds behaviors and functionality to elements in the page and even to the browser window itself. NET, that run on the server and process data and information before it is sent to the user s browser.
See the sidebar Frontend Versus Backend for more information on what happens where. Web scripting and programming definitely requires some traditional computer programming prowess.
While many web programmers have degrees in computer science, it is also common for developers to be self-taught. A few developers I know started by copying and adapting existing scripts, then gradually added to their programming skills with each new project. Still, if you have no experience with programming languages, the initial learning curve may be a bit steep. Teaching web programming is beyond the scope of this book.
It is possible to turn out content-rich, welldesigned sites without the need for programming, so hobbyist web designers should not be discouraged.
However, once you get into collecting information via forms or serving information on demand, it is usually necessary to have a programmer on the team. You may also ask your hosting company if they offer the functionality you are looking for in an easy-to-use, canned service. Frontend Versus Backend You may hear web designers and developers say that they specialize in either the frontend or backend of website creation.
As such, you have to stay ahead of the curve at all times. And these ten 10 absolutely free ebooks will show you the way.
Getting Real Put together by 37Signals — a leading agency — Getting Real is exactly what you need to start creating web applications. Web Design Book Of Trends, — At the beginning of this post, we said you must keep learning as a web designer.
Web Design Book of Trends will reveal over ten 10 web design trends in a series of visually appealing samples.
It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. Time Management for Creative People offers you 32 pages of great time management principles.
Learning Web Design, 3rd Edition
Why Design? No single web designer should have a hard time selling ideas to prospects.You don t necessarily need to become a web designer to start publishing your words and pictures on the Web. What languages do I need to learn? This is a very well put together book. In fact, there is a popular argument that in order to call yourself a web designer, you must be able to build your designs yourself, and nearly everyone agrees that your job prospects will be better if you are able to code as well as design.
Where those designations appear in this book, and O Reilly Media, Inc. Content strategy and creation Third on our list, though ideally first in the actual website creation process, is the critical matter of the site s content itself. If you're interested in web design, Learning Web Design is the place to start. Use JPG for photos or graduated color.
Many of the designations used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their products are claimed as trademarks.