5 Things They Haven’t Taught you at Web Design School
September 28, 2016
Are you web design professional looking to make it big in the designing world? Well that’s great, as web designing is one of the most flourishing careers in today’s digital era. You must have taken up an extensive training from a reputable web designing school, and are now looking forward to start your own business. Now web design schools are no doubt amazing, as they teach you all the basics and fundamentals of designing and coding. But then, do not ever think that your training stops once you leave the school. As a web design professional myself for three years now, I can tell you that there is a lot to learn after one leaves the school and enters the real professional world. The article below discusses some vital things that web design school has not taught you, but are really indispensable to thrive successfully as a professional in the industry.
1.New Agile workflow methodology
This is one of the major areas where our web design schools lack. They are mostly concentrated on the conventional Waterfall workflow methodology while today you increasingly need to follow the latest Agile approach. I had this realization as I forayed into the actual professional world, where most of my clients had one common question-“Do you follow Agile?”. The traditional process of Waterfall is more of a simplistic approach; there’s nothing bad about it but the problem is, with waterfall your final delivery might not meet up with the client’s real-world needs. Waterfall doesn’t allow for flexibility and doesn’t count in the fact that business priorities might change over time,and this is where Agile scores in. It permits the designer and designing approach to stay flexible according to client feedback, the changing business needs and priorities, as well as evolving internet-driven innovations. In fact, Agile enables the designer to adapt comfortably to the changing requirements of the client, even that means at an advanced stage of the project. Basically Agile zeroes in on delivering real value work to the clients. So, if you ask me, I will say don’t depend on what your school has taught and make sure to learn the Agile methodology yourself.
When I started my web design career three years back, one of the most frequent questions that I have to face was,“Do you do responsive web design?”. I was kind of bewildered as my web design school was mostly focused on websites for desktops, since smart phones were not that big as it is now ,back then. The schools didn’t find it that necessary to teach us the “responsive” quotient. It’s pretty much the same with the other web design schools as well. But when you are looking to succeed as a web designer, “responsive” is one of the most important watchwords today. The contemporary world is steadily going “smart”, where the big screen desktops and laptops are facing serious competition from the small-screened tablets and smartphones, in terms of browsing habits. You have to have a responsive website today that would be comfortably viewable from all browsing devices, irrespective of size. Thankfully, I was quick to grasp this basic fact and took to several tutorials to learn mobile-friendly website designing to hone up my “responsive” skills. I will suggest the same for you. Not only the new websites are taking the responsive route but even the older ones too are getting increasingly redesigned to attain a mobile-friendly status.
3.Scalable website design
By “scalable”, I am not referring to the usual concept of creating websites able to handle varying volumes of traffic, but a design that would be able to address the varying pixel density of screen resolution in a smart sustainable fashion. The web designing schools would mostly teach you web designs for 800 by 600 resolutions. Yet that won’t be enough for the current times, the age usually driven by 4K displays and smart watches. Some devices speak of 2x pixel ratio while some others follow 1x or 1.5x. I was flooded with questions like – “can you create 2x and 1x versions of your images?”, or “What if the 3x format becomes popular?”.
Well, you cannot avoid these questions as a web designer. What I realized that I need to learn the technique of “scalable web design” which will help me to adequately create web designs which can scale easily according to pixel density. Responsive web design takes care of creating designs that will rhyme with all device sizes, but it cannot solve the problem of varying pixel density. This is where you need to adapt yourself to scalable web design techniques. A Vector layout is a great help here.
4.Testing user experience
The main function of a website is to attract the target niche and make them stay on the site. But how do you know that the visitors are actually interested in your site? You might have given your best in the designing process but is it adequate to convert the visitors into loyal leads? A website, no matter how pleasing it appears, would have no value if it cannot make the visitors stay. My web design school taught me how to come up with a clean web design interface, but there were no lessons on how to test user experience. It’s always vital to get a clear idea about how the users are viewing your website to understand the success-meter of your platform.
User feedback always plays a crucial role in deciding the strength and weakness of web design templates. I was fortunate to be in touch with an industry veteran who taught me the importance of the analytics tools, and I will suggest the same for you. These tools offer a clear view on how long the visitors stayed on your website, which page they visited the most, which page they left early, whether it took them long to perform a task on your website, and so on.
5.Business and marketing skills
It has always been my dream to work as a freelance web designer, and it’s pretty much the same with my fellow web designer friends around. Our web design schools have definitely taught us most of the technical aspects of the world, but when I got to the real professional world, I felt the need of learning the business and marketing skills as well which are not taught in the schools. You might be a very talented designer, but you cannot expect success in your business if you don’t know how to approach and market your work to your clients. The entire business side you have to learn all by yourself, and there are so many things to get a hang about here. These include writing the contracts, creating business plans, generating marketing campaigns, to promote your brand, collecting payments and so on.
I really wish that my web design school could teach me such needed skills, as without those it’s impossible to establish your business. I took a SMM course, and got myself into lots of self-help business and marketing books. And yes, it always helps to talk to industry veterans who have been handling clients for long.
I am extremely grateful to my web design school, as it taught me the basic fundamentals of web designing. But then, no web design school can equip you in every aspect of your web designing career, especially when it comes to the latest trends and methodologies. So, stay prepared to update yourself about the needed demands of the market.
Lisa is a designer by profession and writer by choice, she writes for almost all topics but design is her favorite. Apart from these she also volunteers at a few Animal rescue centers.