Love all things web and internet? Creative and techy too? A career as a web designer may be right for you

Web designers plan, create and code web pages, using both technical and non-technical skills to produce websites that fit their customer’s requirements.

They are involved in the technical and graphical aspects of pages, producing not just the look of the website, but determining how it works as well. Web designers might also be responsible for the maintenance of an existing site.

The term web developer is sometimes used interchangeably with web designer, but this is misguided. Web developing is a more specialist role, focusing on the back-end development of a website and will incorporate, among other things, the creation of highly complex search functions.

The growth in touchscreen phones and tablet devices has dictated a new way of designing websites, with the web designer needing to ensure that web pages are responsive no matter what type of device is being used. Therefore the need to test websites at different stages of design, on a variety of devices, has become an important aspect of the job.

Responsibilities

Your duties as a web designer will vary depending upon the type of organisation you’re working for and the technical level of the website, but can include:

  • meeting clients to identify their needs and liaising regularly with them
  • drawing up detailed website specifications
  • designing sample page layouts including text size and colours
  • designing graphics, animations and manipulating digital photographs
  • registering web domain names and organising the hosting of the website
  • presenting initial design ideas to clients
  • coding using a variety of software
  • working with different content management systems
  • search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • meeting relevant legal requirements such as accessibility standards, freedom of information and privacy
  • designing the website’s visual imagery and ensuring it’s in line with company branding policy or the requirements of the client
  • proofreading content and making changes where necessary
  • editing content, debugging code and re-designing web pages
  • working with other web specialists including web developers and graphic designers
  • liaising with outside agencies
  • testing the website to ensure it is working
  • handing the completed website over to the client
  • post-sales technical support
  • training client’s staff
  • researching current design trends
  • continual professional development to keep up to date with new software developments.

Salary

  • Starting salaries vary and can range from £18,000 to £24,000.
  • With four to six years’ experience and more, salaries can increase to between £24,000 and £40,000.
  • Those in senior roles can earn upwards of £40,000.

Salaries tend to be higher in London and the South East, depending on the size of the company and its location. A way to increase your salary is to be the first to specialise in emerging technologies.

Additional benefits might include pension schemes, an on-site restaurant, parking and life assurance, but it’s not unusual for small companies simply to offer a salary.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You’ll generally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but you might be required to work extra hours in the evenings or on weekends to meet deadlines. Some jobs may involve being on-call to deal with unexpected problems that need solving at any time, day or night.

As the equipment required to be a web designer is simply a computer, software and high-speed internet, you can work from almost any location. This lends itself very well to freelance work, being self-employed and working from home.

What to expect

  • The job involves spending hours at a keyboard and demands high levels of concentration. To prevent eye strain, a bad back or other related health problems, regular breaks from the screen are recommended.
  • Depending upon your employer, your dress code can be informal, or more business-like for meeting clients.
  • This profession is currently male-dominated, but steps are being taken to redress the balance. For information and jobs geared towards women entering the industry, visit Women in Technology.
  • Web designers are essentially office based. Travel to client sites may be required especially when working on a large and complex project, and they may be based there for the duration of the project. Self-employed and freelance web designers will often work from home but may work in their client’s offices from time to time.
  • The top location for web design jobs is London, with the south east of England also providing a good number of jobs. Other hot spots include Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and the M4 corridor around Slough and Reading.



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