So You Want to Be A Web Designer?

As a creative professional with 25+ years experience, it’s natural I get questions from aspiring designers or website developers. Recently, I was asked by a talented, energetic young man how he could get more experience to be a website designer. His next email asked me what courses he should take, followed by some questions about whether he should go into design or development. I could tell that he was still not sure about the direction his career path will take him, so it was hard to give him specific advice about preparation for this career.

I did mention to him that (IMHO) nothing can substitute real, day-to-day immersion in your craft.

The skills, memory, technique, and shortcuts you gain by doing something familiar cannot be replaced by theory or classroom application. You can learn bad habits and poor techniques without proper instruction, so I’m a strong advocate for learning the right way. College courses, workshops, and seminars are usually great for this.

Most students that ask me about my career are well-intentioned and creative. Most of them know enough about the industry to ask good questions that will hopefully point them in the right direction. I say most. Software has made artists, web designers, and videographers out of everybody. Software is so advanced now, that people tend to let it do the heavy lifting – the real creative stuff. Everyone is online. People see a website or web graphic and think that because it’s readily accessible, they can do it. Many of them can. Many cannot.

To the aspiring artist, graphic designer, or web designer, ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Why do you want to do this? (Most likely, you will not get rich)
  2. Do you feel you’re well-suited for this career? Why?
  3. Do you like working with people? (It’s not about the computer, they won’t pay you. It’s about the relationships
  4. Do you like problem-solving?
  5. What’s better visual things, or making something work?

For the record, I love what I do. If I won the lottery, I would still do the same thing every day. Maybe not, every night and weekend…

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