There is a lot to be said about professions that require one set of skills that need to be honed for the most efficient operation of that job. A web design career, however, is in a different category. If you want to branch out, design better websites, impress your developers, attract more clients, and make more money, you’ll want to consider becoming a more well-rounded designer. The question is: what new skills should you take on to expand your repertoire and make yourself much more valuable?
Do web designers need to learn how to code?
The first thing to do is to distinguish a web designer from a web developer. Recently these two terms have been used interchangeably, but it was not always so. A web designer has traditionally been associated with the creative side of website development. They are responsible for web page optimization through the arrangement of colors, fonts, buttons, images, and logos per the request of the client. Web developers would then focus on the technicalities of making that website come to life through coding.
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Recently, however, since coding can often be the most difficult part of web development, there has been an increasing demand for designers to tackle some of the coding aspects so that the entire development process can become more streamlined. So while it isn’t mandatory for a designer to learn to code, lacking those skills may result in some closed doors for your career.
Which languages should a traditional designer learn?
When you’re discussing coding for web development, you will end up with a list of programming or markup languages that may or may not be relevant to the projects that either you or your firm take on.
HTML– It may go without saying that HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language, is the bread and butter of the web development industry. It is used for everything from web pages to mobile apps and forms the one of the cornerstones of web-based technology. However, there’s a good chance that you have already encountered HTML as a designer given its ease of use and pervasiveness.
PHP– Used by several popular websites such as Facebook and WordPress, PHP is an open-source script language that works alongside HTML. Used mainly for start-up businesses, it works as a server-side language and is a widely-used, general-purpose platform that can make you much more valuable as a designer.
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LESS– This platform is a style sheet language that works within CSS to create color and font variable translations, embed mixins, and use logical nesting more efficiently than you could with CSS alone. If you want to enhance your use of HTML and CSS, LESS is the way to go.
SCSS/SASS– While these two languages are not exactly the same, they both serve as similar CSS extension languages. SASS, or Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets, is concise and easier to write and read. SCSS, on the other hand, allows for more control and freedom with expression and uses block formatting similar to CSS.
While you may not need to learn each of the above languages, many go hand in hand and drastically enhance your ability to use more fundamental coding languages like HTML and CSS. The important thing is to identify what you or your firm needs to complete the projects on hand as well as the operating system that each program supports. Know your developer colleagues’ needs, target them, and take your web design career to new heights.
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