As the old joke goes… a web designer is like a… never mind. That joke isn’t very funny anyway. It’s also not very funny if you have a talent as a web designer and you are trying to get started but you see the hundreds of other designers out there trying to get the same work you are shooting for. Not only are there hundreds of web designers competing for the same work but each came to the field along a different route. Some began as programmers, some as graphic artists. Still others came up through administrative ranks while others began as hobbyists. So how can you set yourself apart in the sea of other web designers?
A good first step in establishing yourself as a web designer is to design some sites. That may sound like a no-brainer but you really do need something to show people. Of course, you’ll want to have your own personal site but if you are just getting started you can also build a portfolio by creating and maintaining sites for groups you are affiliated with such as church or volunteer organizations. Perhaps you have a few friends that are in business that can use a site. Jump in.
While you are building a portfolio you should try to determine what your strengths are. Are you a top notch web designer that can also write solid content or are your design skills more graphically oriented? This is important when you are bidding or interviewing for jobs because nothing is worse than getting in over your head. Every single web designer out there has different strengths and weaknesses. You want satisfied customers and bosses! That means knowing your strengths and your limitations. What are yours? Target your sales pitch or your interviews toward your strengths. In the meantime, try to work on your weaknesses by taking courses, reading books, and learning new techniques. The web world is constantly growing and evolving. You will need to keep pace with the changes and you should try to stay on the leading edge.
There are many web design educational programs out there. You can try courses at a technical school or community college or you can find many self paced tutorials on the web. The tools and techniques available in the website design field are constantly changing. There are many web designer niches out there for the taking. Perhaps you should become a specialist in Web 2.0 or Joomla. How about CSS? Do you prefer more graphically oriented sites? If so, are you expert at using tools such as Flash and Photoshop?
The point is, there is always room out there for a talented web designer who know how to read his or her customer’s needs and set about the task of interpreting them on the web. If you know yourself and what you can do, are willing to continue learning, and have the ability to work with people, you can make a go of it. Create your own special style and you will be able to differentiate yourself from the many other web designers out there.