Are you looking to become a good website designer or do you need to hire one?
We’ve compiled a list of technical skills and business habits that are important for a good website designer. No single person can be perfect at everything, but this list will help you understand the tangible and no-so-tangible skills that are important to designing good websites.
Be a planner
As web designers, it is easy to put all our time and energy into how the site looks. But as most web designers are also project managers, it’s crucial to have a process for keeping notes, requests, actions, and content organized. This takes planning. From day one of the project through launch, it’s important to have a clear plan and to keep good notes. If changes are required mid-way through a project, the process will be easier when you can see how those changes will affect other aspects of the project.
Have clear goals
Milestones, deadlines, deliverables, and expectations are four goals that are key to web development success. If these points are not clearly stated, miscommunication and failure are likely.
Know the market
In addition to understanding design, web designers should know as much as possible about the target audience. This will result in the best user experience. Explain what the product or service does and how it is better and different from the competition. By making the product more attractive to your client’s customers, conversion rates should improve.
Use hard data whenever possible
Don’t go into a project simply on gut feeling when empirical data can help make a decision. If you’re redesigning a website, look at the statistics from the old site. What pages were most visited? Where was most time spent? What pages were rarely visited? If you’re building a new website, you can often get good information from trade groups or industry organizations.
Reach out to clients regularly
Communicating with clients is too often an afterthought. The truth is that the client is a valuable source of information and insight. Look to them for guidance about what their customers are looking for and what they value. Also, while you may be the most conscientious and hard-working individual, the client doesn’t know what you are doing if you don’t keep them informed. Good and frequent communication will help you avoid wasting time going off on a tangent or spending too much time on something the client doesn’t even care about.
Know when to stand up and when to sit down
In many ways, web development is a collaboration. A good website designer will need to have a working relationship with a developer and with the client. Occasionally there will be resistance. It could be the wording of a call to action, the structure of a page, or a particular image that has been used. Learn to evaluate which situations you need to stand your ground on. Sometimes the point will be inconsequential and not worth hurt feelings. Sometimes the client or the developer will simply have more experience and knowledge about the issue. And then there will be those times that your knowledge and your experience count most.
Design with SEO in mind
The best time to start thinking about SEO is on day one. Since the content of a website is the single most important factor determining who will visit the site, give thought and careful consideration to which keywords to optimize, what pages to build, and what information to include.
View a site from many perspectives
Your website will serve many different people. Let’s say, for example, you’re designing a website for B&B. They will likely have at least two distinct types of clients. The obvious group is people planning a trip or a vacation who need a place to stay. Perhaps a less obvious group is local residents who are expecting visitors who need accommodation (think wedding party). It’s important to consider all the potential personas when you’re designing the website. Be empathetic and consider their concerns and priorities. What are their goals, their values, and their pain points?
Pay attention to the little things
Your client and their site visitors will notice when you don’t pay attention to the little things. A beautiful website with tons of great content is good, but if you don’t pay attention to the little things, it will be like a dark cloud hanging over all your hard work. The little things are what people remember, and what make a good experience even better.
Be a self-learner
The technology and tools used to build websites are always changing. A good website designer can’t be afraid of change and must be enthusiastic about learning new ways of doing things. There is no single way to stay up-to-date with what’s current and what’s on the horizon. Books and magazines are a start. Websites and podcasts are also helpful. It’s also good to get out and meet with other designers, share your knowledge, and ask questions.
What makes a good website designer?
To be a good website designer requires strong computer skills, experience working with fluid layouts, proficiency with tools like Photoshop, and an understanding of search engine optimization. However, it takes more than having the right equipment and understanding basic design principles. A good website designer learns from past successes and failures and is enthusiastic about each new project.
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