As a web designer, it’s imperative that you find the perfect balance between business and art when designing. Sounds easier said than done, of course. When crafting a web experience, you have to take into account the client you’re working with, the message the team wants to convey, and how the audience could potentially react to the interface. Average web designers just make each new site similar to the next with subtle customer-specific changes. Experienced web designers, however, know that time and effort delivers the best results!
To become a great web designer, you need certain traits that set you apart from the crowd. These are the skills that will allow you to rise above the rest to become one of the most successful designers the web has ever known!
To help you on your journey to become a top website designer, here are the 20 qualities from smart leaders in their field on what you need to become elite.
1. Design with SEO in mind. – Leah Weisman
“A website’s load time impacts SEO, along with how cleanly the site is coded and how the meta tags and descriptions are written.
Load time is impacted by design choices, like animations or movements or even the amount of colors or elements, so it’s important to be judicious in choosing the right design elements.”
2. Have knowledge of key principles. – Remington Begg
“This is more rudimentary, and pretty much every professional web designer should be very fluent in myriad design programs and techniques. But it always helps to ask. Good web design principles are rarely innate, which means they almost always have to be learned.”
3. Make content pertinent. – David Valentine
“This sounds like a no brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many websites we find have one of the following: incorrect information, invalid hyper links, blank pages, or content on a page that has nothing to do with the rest of the page content.”
4. Be self-learning. – Ben Hunt
“The best designers, SEO guys, CSS geeks, hackers, copywriters, businesspeople, etc. they’re all learning every day, trying out new stuff, learning what works and what doesn’t.”
5. Find solutions. – Rajni Setia
“While handling various projects designers come across various problems. Getting stuck is part of handling things and a good designer looks for the solutions not just alternatives. If you are a designer always make sure if you face any problem you look for the solution.”
6. Reach out to your clients regularly. – Web Design Journey
“Schedule a weekly meeting with each client you have any active projects with to review the process, get feedback and most importantly, course correct.”
7. Exercise good communication skills. – Tara Pickard
“All great web designers are able to communicate well with their team and articulate their thoughts and ideas or changes in the scope of a particular project or task. Websites are huge projects, and a designer needs to be able to express their vision so that others can implement it.”
8. Know your market. – Alan Smith
“When you know exactly what your market is you can create a design that will suit this target audience perfectly. One of the obstacles that impede the designing process is lack of knowledge of the industry a designer is working for.”
9. Always be innovating. – Nuno Loureiro
“Approach each project with an innovative mindset and critical thinking in terms of UI and graphic design, and always try to push your ideas forward, exploring new boundaries. Use creativity as an innovative tool to stand out.”
10. Tell a story. – Nick Pettit
Every piece you choose to include in your portfolio should tell a story, either visually or with words. If you’ve made a website for a local food truck that’s known for gourmet quality food, the aesthetics should correspond and fit the message. Websites are a communication medium, so clients want to see work that really says something.
11. Be personable. – Evoke Design Blog
“Look for a designer with integrity and a passion for his work and for someone that you can talk to comfortably. You’ll be working with this person off and on for a long time so you need to get along with each other well.”
12. Be collaborative. – Randall Parrish
You should ask your fellow designers if everything is looking as sharp as it seems in your head. Bouncing ideas off one another throughout the design process only serves to make the final deliverable all the more refined.
13. Be proactive. – Peter Tichy
“You’re stacked with a bug or can’t figure something out? You are not alone, everyone even the most experienced developers have the same issues on almost every project.
When this happens, call it out!
Everyone will appreciate that you are trying your best and keeping them in the loop with the progress.”
14. Connect with your client. – John Hergert
“The most successful (web designers) have the ability to walk into almost any client … sit down, absorb their brand … and understand the needs and wants of the customer and design according to that.”
15. View your site through the lens of multiple dynamic contexts. – Robert Smith
“That one line of text looks great, but what happens when our client adds more text, or when the window is made smaller, designs have to be built with these things in mind so they can scale. Things like having an article with an image to the left that is the same height of the text just wont work unless it’s a static site and non-responsive.”
16. Master the art of responsive design. – Brian Krall
“Responsive design, otherwise known as fluid grids, flexible images and media queries, is an intricate dance between design and execution. Know the ins-and-outs.”
17. Design for emotion by doing your homework. – Penina Finger
“Have you identified your target customer? (Yes, you even need to do this for your freelance portfolio site.) Not only do your customers and potential customers have feelings, but they have feelings which can’t be captured in a single word.”
18. Have great presentation skills. – Devin Thompson
“Although presentation skills are important for designers to succeed in selling their ideas, they are among the most underrated and seldom-discussed skills. Of course, tools and software help them design a website, but to communicate their ideas to clients, it’s up to their presentation skills.”
19. Be creative. – Ramon Ray
“A good web designer will the creative ability to provide a variety of designs. You do NOT want a website that looks like everyone else. Some web designers get stuck in a rut and they can only design one type of visual.”
20. Pay attention to the little things. – Isaac Campbell
“Incredibly observant people make the best graphic designers. Their ability to see the small details of a larger picture is indispensable when it comes to professional design work.”
Are there any other traits great web designers should have in their toolbox? Let us know in the comments section!