The terms “web design” and “web development” are often thought to be equal. However, they are distinctly different types of work. Therefore, if you wish to work as a remote web designer, you must make sure your potential clients are actually seeking design assistance. As a web designer, you will be responsible for helping your clients create visually pleasing websites.
However, you will not be obligated to perform the behind the scenes functions that will make your designs operational. That responsibility will fall on the shoulders of the web developer. He or she will use knowledge of coding languages like CSS and HTML to make the page you designed function properly. Alternatively, you can choose to learn web development skills in addition to web design skills and offer both services to your potential clients.
As a remote web designer, you can choose to specialize in one area of web design. For example, you may focus on creating eye-catching graphics. However, developing a well-rounded set of web design skills will give you the ability to apply for a more diverse range of web design jobs. Below are descriptions of web design skills that are in high demand.
Graphic design is the art of using images, often in conjunction with words, to attract attention. It is a field used often in online marketing circles. However, graphic design is also a field that is quite broad. As a graphic designer, you can potentially specialize in any type of work that uses text and graphics to convey messages. Examples of such types of work include:
- Interactive advertisement development
- Online game development
- Email marketing
- Visual presentation creation
The most obvious use for graphic design skills as they relate to web design is to develop visually appealing websites. Websites that are visually appealing will potentially attract more visitors. Therefore, graphic design skills are always in high demand. As a graphic designer for websites, you must understand concepts like:
- Graphic placement
- Graphic size
You must use your understanding of those concepts to develop a website layout that will draw visitors in. When you are called upon to perform remote graphic design work, you may be asked to assist with one particular aspect of the visual layout of a website, such as logo design, or with the layout for the entire website.
Information Architecture (IA)
Another aspect of website design is information architecture (IA). Information architecture refers to the process of making a website easy for users to navigate. As an IA specialist, you will be responsible for helping your clients streamline each of the navigation components of their websites. Such components may include:
- Clickable buttons.
- Drop down menus.
- Side, bottom or top navigation bars.
You must have a working knowledge of standard industry IA procedures to specialize in the field. Such procedures can change, so ongoing study will likely be required. However, specializing in IA will also require you to understand the target audience of each of your clients. There may be times when appealing to the needs of the target audience will be more important than adhering to industry standards. Weighing projected user experiences, the business goals of your clients and the types of information that must be listed on each website will help you to identify those situations.
As an IA specialist, you can also choose to specialize in a particular aspect of IA. For example, many website owners implement search functions on their websites to allow users to look for information. Therefore, you can choose to specialize in design techniques used to create effective search functions. However, diversifying your IA skills will give you access to a wider array of remote web design jobs.
Another aspect of remote web design is interaction design. Interaction design refers to creating a functional, efficient and interesting interfacing experience for a website visitor. Interfacing actions are actions visitors take on a website that cause events to occur. For example, a button a visitor can click to be taken to his or her virtual cart to buy a product is an interface element. When those elements are streamlined and functioning properly, your clients are more likely to have successful conversions on their websites.
Another common aspect of interaction design is the implementation of website design coding that will allow visitors to perform universally expected functions. As an interaction design specialist, it will be your job to make sure such common interactions are fully functional on the websites on which you work.
Interaction design may also involve creating form elements to walk website visitors through processes. For example, you may be tasked with creating a pop-up box to let a visitor know what will happen when he or she clicks through to the next page of a website. Creating forms to allow user feedback and error reporting are also essential aspects of interactive design.
In the early days of the internet, web design was a comparatively simple process. However, as a web design specialist today, you will not be dealing solely with computer users. Many website visitors are now accessing websites on mobile devices, such as cellular phones. However, websites often do not display the same on such devices as they do on computers. Therefore, a website that looks perfectly functional and visually pleasing on a computer may be completely inoperable on a mobile device. As a result, your skills are likely to be in high demand, if you choose to specialize in mobile compatibility.
One aspect of mobile compatibility is ensuring each page of the website will fit any device screen, regardless of the screen size. Certain programs exist to help you achieve that goal. Also, many mobile devices are limited in terms of how much data they can access and how quickly they can do so. Therefore, it may be necessary for you to streamline such procedures as checkout processes to minimize the number of pages that must be navigated for compatibility purposes. By honing those and other skills relating to mobile optimization, you will be prepared when clients require your assistance to ensure website compatibility between platforms.