web design career advice

  marka123 12:45 11 Nov 2005

Im 18 and just finished A-levels in computing, maths and physics. I am looking into starting a career in computing. I would like to become a web designer. I am thinking of getting certified with the ciw master web designer course.

Is this a good starting point for a career? will I be able to get a job in web design with this?

Thanks in advance.

  matto 07:04 21 Nov 2005

in addition to some of the useful comments above...

...leave the qualifications to one side for the moment and consider your interests, passion (if you're lucky enough to have one) and preferences for web work.

I've worked at a high-level in media and advertising for 15 years, and with the web for the past 10. A lot has changed, yet there are many career opportunities within the industry. All employers use qualifications to reduce the risk of taking a stranger on-board.

Another way of reducing risk is to choose someone who has proven their ability and is enthusiastic about their work.

So, be that person first and get the qualification in something academic/creative/technical. If at all.

I have a team of web technicians who are all self-taught - many technical staff are. I work with designers who studied fine art and then taught themselves flash + action scripting to bring their designs to life. I know early web-designers who are know focused on usability issues and how to create information architectures. I've had students straight out of college who brought nothing useful from their course.

If you have an interest in web, you now have the option to focus in on what you like specifically. The days of general web design are drifting away.

So, put the courses to one side for a moment, try creating a few of your own sites, try to focus on what you like most about the process and continue it. Then choose a course that gives you an opportunity to develop that area. Oh, and did I mention doing your own sites or collaborating with others....? There are plenty of deserving causes out there that can't afford a site of their own.


  Forum Editor 18:47 21 Nov 2005

with what's already been said.

A fair part of my business involves the design.development of web sites, and I employ several people to assist me in this (and other things). Not a week goes by without at least one CV arriving from would-be web designers looking to start out, and I receive many applications from people who have already been designing for some time. The site design market is a crowded p-lace, and unless you have some special talent, or have some previous work with which you can demonstrate your skills you'll find it an uphill battle.

matto is absolutely right to say that "The days of general web design are drifting away.". To succeed today you'll need to think about specialising - perhaps in data-handling, or graphics, or PHP etc. Find something you like doing and go all out to become proficient in that field. Then offer your skills to other designers on a freelance basis. I wouldn't personally place too much emphasis on academic or professional qualifications when considering a person for employment - what matters to me is what they can do, rather than who they are, or what paper qualifications they might have.

Some of the best PHP work I have ever seen was done for me by a freelancer in America. I have never met or spoken to him, all our work was done collaboratively, online, and the results were excellent. He did what he's good at, and I paid him. Increasingly, work is being done this way, and you don't necessarily have to think in terms of being employed by anyone - if you're good you'll get plenty of work.

Think about this very carefully - I would hate to think that you spent a long time studying for a paper qualification, only to find that you're one among hundreds of people chasing a few jobs. Become an expert at something specific - you can teach yourself by studying some of the thousands of excellent tutorials available on the web - and you'll always have a living.

  Haol 19:08 21 Nov 2005

I agree with everything said here, these days teenaga web designers are increasingly on the rise,(I'm one of them :) ) and obviously these designers have not even finished high school yet and are being employed.

  HighTower 10:32 22 Dec 2005

I've been a Web / Graphic Designer for around 4 years now, self employed. As with all self employed businesses it's a bit of a roller coaster but it's working.

I also think that the points raised above are valid. I find that a lot of people know how to use a computer these days, and a lot of people have a dodgy copy of Dreamweaver and can put out a mediocre website for a few quid. In my opinion a major part of what makes a good web designer is the "designer" bit. We all see stunning looking websites, often very simple but incredibly creative. The same can be said for printed material like advertising and brochures and the like.

I really think that a keen eye for design is very important, and a creative mind is what often raises one person above the others. Obviously, a site has to work, has to be functional, and has to be easy to navigate but it also has to look good. A good, free starting point is to look around you. Look at sites you like, look at art you like and look at why you like it and what makes it work.

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