More often than not, innovative and attractive design is present in the most popular of websites. With so many sources for both information and entertainment littering the internet, users will quickly hit the back button on any site which is difficult to use and/or is a complete eyesore. This is why web designers are imperative to digital marketing agencies, which are looking to deliver content in the clearest possible way, to ensure a positive user experience and the highest number of conversions for clients.
Whenever designers are asked to produce on or offsite visual content, they must also make sure the imagery adheres to a client's current branding standards (for example, comprising the same colours and font types) to ensure consistency and clarity regards brand identity.
If you are wondering how you could secure yourself a job in this imaginative and technical industry, read my interview with Fresh Egg’s very own creative designer, Nathan Kingstone, below for inspiration. If you'd like to find out more about careers in online marketing, check out the other posts in our digital marketing careers advice series.
Describe the industry of web design in as few words as possible
In a nutshell, the industry encompasses the design, production and implementation of an almost endless list of visual items online, which adhere to the tastes, branding and/or campaign aims of clients. Crucially, all this needs to be produced with user experience at the forefront.
The industry is an exciting one to work in as it’s constantly evolving thanks to the introduction of new formats and coding languages. The popularisation of the mobile platform and responsive designs, in addition to the arrival of HTML5 and CSS3 coding has really broadened what designers can – and are asked – to do.
What path did you follow to become a web designer?
I have always had a keen interest in design and so I chose to study a two year National Diploma in graphic design and illustration at Northbrook College in 1994. This course was very introductory and not much of our work was completed on computers – we used lime boards and technical pens to hand-draw designs!
In 1996 I followed this with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in pure graphic design, once again, at Northbrook College. During this course I completed two work experience placements at print-based design companies where I got to practise producing designs for advertisements, leaflets and packaging. After graduating, I worked at a design company called Clear Vision Marketing for around five years, followed by a stint at Aspin Interactive Limited before joining Fresh Egg’s web design team.
What does a typical day in your role as creative designer at Fresh Egg involve?
My job at Fresh Egg is really quite varied! As a creative designer, my role is slightly different to that of a typical web designer, since I am in charge of conceptualising and directing designs to other team members who will then actually build them on mine and the customers’ behalf.
My role often sees me addressing design briefs received from clients. These requests can be for anything from entire ecommerce website designs, to branding elements such as logos and banners, to Facebook apps and Timeline designs.
My other responsibilities include attending client meetings and explaining the rationale for each of my designs, working with the front-end developers in my team to ensure they have understood my vision, and making any amendments to designs which may be required by clients. Oh and drinking many cups of tea too of course!
Are there any recognised courses a wannabe or practising designer should complete?
Obviously, completing any higher education courses related to design will work in your favour and there are many out there that are digital specific – this was not the case during my own school days. The industry is highly competitive though, and although qualifications do look good on a CV, I would argue your portfolio is far more important.
If your college or university holds end of year shows, you should showcase your work at these since prospective employers often attend these events. In fact, this is how I secured my first job.
Could you share three top tips for anyone wanting to enter the industry of online design?
- Learn as many coding languages as possible. Creative designers need to understand how coding works, even if they do not implement it first-hand. This allows them to work closely with front-end developers, to ensure their creative vision is realised
- Acquire and learn Photoshop and Dreamweaver inside-out. There are many programs out there for designers, but knowing everything there is to know about these two key ones will serve you well
- Soak up as much design knowledge and news as possible. I highly recommend subscribing to monthly periodicals Creative Review (which discusses design as a whole) and Net Magazine (web-specific). Doing this will ensure you are up to date with the latest tools and design trends, which can be a source of influence for your own work.
The following is a list of fantastic online resources for wannabe designers seeking information and inspiration:
Do you have any other advice to give?
I recommend designers take advantage of every work experience opportunity available to them, even those which happen to be unpaid. The more in-studio practise a person has, the more attractive that candidate will be to employers, and working for free shows you have a genuine passion for the industry.
I would also say it’s important to be thick-skinned and to take criticism positively, since it is not uncommon for clients to request tweaks or changes to work you produce. Remember, design is often a matter of individual taste.
This is the last post in this series. If you'd like to find out more about careers in online marketing, check out the other posts in our digital marketing careers advice series.