Where Do Web Designers Come From?

New Vibe Web Design – Web Design in Boulder Colorado:

Anyone can call themselves a web designer – there is no licensing or educational requirement.  So in general, what is the background of someone who does web design?  I’ve found you can divide them into a four main categories: techies, graphic designers, programmers, and bona fide web designers.

A person with good computer skills can easily figure out how to put a web site up on the Internet – making it look good is another matter.  A techie website design lacks visual appeal (although the techie doesn’t realize that).  Techies like to throw moving things into their design whether they really fit or not.  Often times the colors are poorly chosen, different parts of the page fight for the user’s attention – overall, they just lack design skills and it shows on their web sites.  A good techie can get some advanced functionality into a site and can usually find a way to work around their shortcomings by consulting web design professionals through forums.  Many techies are IT people and have to troubleshoot and find difficult solutions to stubborn problems for a living, which lends itself well to web design, which is fraught with challenges.  Again, the shortcoming is in the visual quality of the design, which means your website won’t make the best impression on visitors – not good for business.

Graphic Designers
A graphic designer knows how to use color, balance and many other factors to create a visually appealing image.  A website designed by a graphic designer will look nice, but will often have a number of problems.  Many of these sites load slowly, get poor search engines rankings, are not easy to use and lack some basic web design tricks that make the experience better for the user.  Just as the techie tends to overload a web site with functionality, the graphic designer tends to overload a web site with graphics.

Programmers can use programming languages to create interactive and dynamic web sites such as online stores, blog sites, auction sites, dating sites and others.  Usually, programmers work with web designers on these sites with the web designers creating the look and feel of the site and the programmers supplying the “back-end” functionality.  Sometimes, programmers take it upon themselves to create an entire site.  The result is a huge shame, because the programmer’s hard work in creating an amazing and useful tool is wasted by their lack of ability in making it visually appealing.  In a word, programmer sites are ugly.  Fortunately, it is rather easy for a web designer to come along and salvage the work by building a “front-end” that makes the whole thing sing.

Web Designers
So, what is a bona fide web designer?  That would be a person who has some skill in graphic design, programming and a techie mentality.  A bona fide web designer usually starts as a Techie, Graphic Designer, or Programmer and then develops skills in the other two disciplines.  A really good web designer has enough skill to work as a graphic designer, programmer, or IT person, but wouldn’t necessarily be the best at any one of the three.  Someone who has one of the skills above, but lacks the other two can create incredibly sites simply by getting help from someone who is strong where they are weak, but in this case someone must understand what the final web site is going to consist of and must guide the project accordingly.

I know of no school that graduates capable web designers as described above.  Mostly, a bona fide web designer has years of experience in the trenches, doing the work and learning the ins and outs of a very complex endeavor.  While a computer savvy individual can launch a web site alone, making that site look and function well is a completely different matter!

Chad Phillips
Web Designer

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