Join James Williamson for an in-depth discussion in this video Different areas of web design, part of Introduction to Web Design and Development.
- Web design has become an incredibly blended field. When I was first starting out in the mid 90s, all you really needed to know was a little HTML, how to create links, and how to place images on the page. You go out and find a tool like Dreamweaver or GoLive and you're were set. Well, we face a much different landscape now. One in which there are so many technologies and processes used that it's quite common to find web designers that specialize in a specific area of web design or a specific technology. I wanna share a few of those specializations with you so you can have a better idea as to specific areas that you might wanna focus on and have a clearer picture of the amount of diversity involved in the field of web design.
First, I wanna talk about a Generalist. A Generalist is a designer that is strong in the core skills of web design and is relatively well practiced in the entire process of creating sites, from planning and prototyping all the way through building and testing. This is the individual that can build an entire site from scratch usually without the help of others. If specific challenges arise outside their area of expertise, they usually bring in another specialist or challenge themselves to add another skill to their already well rounded skill set.
Next, we have visual designers. These are designers that are primarily concerned with the visual design of sites and interfaces. Color, layout, typography, and graphics are their typical area of focus. These tend to be individuals with strong design skills and are often graphic designers who transition towards web design. Another specialty that's been discussed a lot recently is UX Design. UX stands for User Experience and in my opinion the label UX designer has been overused a bit in terms of web design.
UX signifies the focus on the user experience meaning the designer attempts to create sites and applications that through their design fostered the desired experience for the user. If you use that broad of a definition, however, almost every designer is a UX Designer. I mean, aren't we all concerned with the experience of our users? So, I'd like to clarify that a UX Designer isn't a visual designer that's decided to use the term. A true UX Designer is someone who has studied human behavior and tendencies and then designs in accordance with them.
Some specialize in building Wordpress themes or extensions, while others might specialize in the development of Drupal or Joomla sites. While this tends to tie the designer to a specific platform, the ecosystems of these platforms are big enough to support a robust community of designers and developers. While these are just the few of the areas of web design you can specialize in, I wanna point that in reality, very few web designers specialize in just one area. Most web designers start out with a specific skill set or focus and then over the course of their careers pick up new skills or blend in new specializations as they arise.
It's natural to start out with the area that most interests you or that your tasked with learning. Regardless of how you decide to approach learning web design, don't get so focused on any one specialty or technology that you lose track of what's happening elsewhere. The web evolves quickly and one of the responsibilities of web professionals is to evolve right along with it.
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- What is web design?
- What is a web designer?
- Learning to code
- Choosing a web host
- Working with a CMS
- Exploring how websites are structured
- Choosing your framework or software
- Designing with standards and accessibility in mind