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6 Skills Web Designers Need to Have

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the job outlook for web developers/designers from 2012 to 2022 is 20 percent, which is faster than average. Although it is disappointing that they couldn't make the distinction between web design and web development, their findings are really encouraging for anyone looking to get into the web design field. For a budding web designer, or even an experienced one, there are certain skills that can help you be more successful in this field. The following list highlights some of the core skills that can help a web designer be more successful, minus the basics of HTML and CSS that is...

JavaScript

There was a time when users had such a fear of JavaScript that it was almost always turned off in the browser settings. Nowadays that just isn't the case. JavaScript is used for just about everything from mobile applications to making a website more interactive. The ability to implement this into your work, or troubleshoot sites that rely on JavaScript, could really give your career a boost.

JavaScript Books on Amazon:

JavaScript

Experience with a CMS

Joomla, WordPress, Drupal and ModX are just a few of the names that get thrown around, but content management systems make up a huge portion of the web these days because they make it so easy to get a site up and running. Customizing the way these sites look, and operate, takes some specific skills though and many times the owner of a site needs to turn to a professional in order to get things looking, and working, they way they envision them. They all utilize HTML and CSS, and most are powered by PHP, so the backend shouldn't be too hard for a designer to become familiar with.

CMS Books on Amazon:

JavaScript

Responsive Design

According to research from Pew, 58 percent of all adults have a smartphone and 83 percent of adults age 18 to 29 have one. In order to make a website available to smartphone and tablet users the designer can either go with a mobile version of the site or with a more popular, and practical, solution called responsive design. Using this technology, a site can be built to display all of its important elements the on a large monitor all the way down to a small smartphone screen. The web is filled with tutorials on how to get started with responsive design so take some time to learn this one ASAP.

Responsive Design Books on Amazon

JavaScript

Research skills

True, Stackoverflow is a great resource for finding answers to a ton of questions, but it shouldn't be the only resource you turn to. Having the ability to seek out help when needed or find code snippets to cut down your development time are trade secrets that some of the best designers call on everyday. Know how to use Google search operators to your advantage and build up a library of sites that you can turn to for help when you need it.

SEO

Really, is that term still thrown around? Absolutely, and web designers should have some knowledge about what makes search engines view a site in a favorable light. Don't take this to mean that a designer is responsible for search engine optimization, however they need to be familiar with it as so many elements that are a designer's responsibility such as: page loading times, mobile capability, the way content is displayed, etc.

SEO Books on Amazon

JavaScript

It is also important for designers to know what things might cause a site to be penalized by the search engines so they don't make costly mistakes that wind up hurting the sites they build.

Security

According to the most recent vulnerability statistics from WhiteHat Security 86 percent of all websites have at least one vulnerability. Much of this can be attributed to the popularity of content management applications, like the ones mentioned earlier, and the growth in cloud-based applications.

While there are people who are experts in website and web application security, the designer should have some knowledge about how the different elements they include on a site or CMS they are working with can be targeted for an attack. The web has changed from its early beginnings, and that is a great thing. Once a place to host static content, it is now a world rich in applications, interactive sites, dynamic content, multimedia and communication. As time goes on websites will be able to do even more and designers need to be prepared to meet these challenges; Above all, the skill web designers need to have in their toolbox is the ability to learn because in an ever changing field that is the only way to stay ahead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Orloff

Jeff is the web content developer for PhishMe, a security training and awareness company. He frequently writes about design, blogging and WordPress. You can follow him on Twitter @jeorl

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