The job of the web designer is, to put it in a Ronseal fashion, exactly what it says on the tin. They design web pages, using code and HTML to meet the requirements of whoever they are working for.
They are also heavily involved in the planning and design stages, helping to plan bespoke sites that work efficiently and look attractive. Some web designers go further than this and offer a maintenance service for their websites, keeping them running smoothly over the course of the contract and making sure that the sites are fixed whenever a problem arises.
Of course, in today’s world, websites are not just viewed on computer screens, and with the rise of smart phones and tablets, there are now multiple ways to surf the internet and the web designer must ensure that the site looks as good as possible on all devices it could be viewed on.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries for a web designer can be between £18,000 and £24,000, although over time, with experience and for larger companies with more complex websites, this can increase to as much as £40,000. Senior Web Design roles do exist and can pull in more than £40,000 a year, but these are likely to take on a more managerial perspective.
Benefits ultimately hinge on the size of the company and what they are willing to offer – pensions and life assurance are common in larger companies, but do not be surprised if smaller companies simply offer you a wage.
There is also the option to work freelance, for various different customers, and this has the potential to earn considerably more money, but is far less stable and you need to make a name for yourself in the industry before people will start paying the big sums!
When you work for a company as a web designer, the hours are likely to be quite stable, a nine-to-five on a five-day-working-week, but websites are liable to crash at any part of the day and if it goes down in the middle of the night, you may well be expected to get it sorted as soon as possible.
Freelancers have, as you’d expect, much more freedom to work the hours they wish, but deadlines will be made and you’ll have to work hard during those periods to deliver the goods in the period the customer wants you to!
Although a degree is not strictly necessary, it would do you the world of good to have appropriate qualifications because this industry is extremely competitive and qualifications back up your talent with measurable results. Computer science, software engineering, or even maths or physics (with demonstrated coding modules) can all help you secure a job.
Equally important is work experience and relevant background – the more grounding you have in the industry the better, and t=you’ll gain a host of relevant contacts, which can never be a bad thing.
Training & progression
Whilst your training will take place over the course of your degree, the IT profession is one of the fastest moving industries there is and you’ll need to keep on top of industry developments and the skills that are changing in order to be successful.
There are organisations out there, such as Pearson VUE, to help develop your coding and offer booster courses to keep your skills as honed as possible. Employers often see their certificates as accreditations of excellence.
There’s always progression in the bigger companies to work your way through, but many of the best designers go solo once they have reached a certain level, because it allows you to fix your own prices for your work and to take the monetary rewards it brings, even if it is less stable.
Alternatively, it might be more rewarding to move out of designing and into something like back-end development, or a different sector in the IT business, like web project management or app development.
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