This article is extracted from the interview with Katie Rogers, the managing director and web designer at Kreativity Marketing Ltd. The interview was conducted as part of our series “Career Path with Yekola Academy”. Katie is providing tips and insights on how to become a web designer and she is also discussing the different skills required to become a web designer.
The Role and Responsibilities of a Web Designer
I’ve tailored my career as a website designer to my own speciality, so I’ll talk a bit about what I do and talk a bit about what you could do. So for me, it’s very multifaceted, I love to do everything myself, from all of the technical stuff to creative design, the build and the content. So for me, website design always starts with client discussions, having a meeting, talking about what they’re looking for, what they need the site to do, and this should be the same regardless of how you’re going to work.
So, once you’ve had all that interaction with the client and really got an idea of what they’re looking for, it’s time to get into the meat of it. From a technical perspective, it’s everything from working with domains, setting up hosting on WordPress environment and Shopify accounts, optimising the page structure of SEO, redirecting links, making the website responsive and speedy and making sure the website security is really watertight. So, if you’re not technical, don’t panic, I’ll come back to that. The creativity and the design aspect of it obviously are the main bits. So, I start off with the client industry and competitive research, it always starts in my head when I speak to them. I imagine the website in my head, even before I designed it, and that will come to you. So, I then put pen to paper, make notes, and it ends up just kind of appearing on the website, I guess. So, I spend ages usually on the first page, getting the design really kind of locked in. I use WordPress mainly with Elementor, which is a website builder. The creative bit, there’s no structure to it for me. It’s just a big whirlwind until I feel like I’ve really hit the nail on the head. And then, you kind of touch base with the client all times, to make sure that they’re over the moon with the looks and the functionality. And then lastly, as I’m also a copywriter, I usually write all the content for the website. So, in summary, I like to do everything, but you don’t need to, if you’re only a creative person and you find the technical side of things a bit scary, or maybe you just want to focus on design, it’s a career where you can really specialise.
You can work with a technical person or a technical team to do all the backend. You can even work with a developer to actually bring your designs to life. So you could work in something like Illustrator or Photoshop to design the websites and they can make it happen. The more websites you do, the more websites you look at online, when you hear a brief from a client, you don’t have to have really formal structures and processes and red tape. You can just have a really informal chat with them and then just bring it to life in your head. So, it does come with time. I would say to people, don’t worry if you have a creative mind but you’re not skilled in actually building it yet, because it will definitely come if you’ve got the passion.
How to Become a Web Designer
So, I’ve always had a love of design, it kind of started off with photography, oddly. Between the ages of 14 and 16, I was running my little photography business and I needed a website for it. And obviously, because I love design, I thought I’d just do it myself. So, I started off on the Wix website platform, which I think a lot of people might have seen even on the TV. I started making my own, and I ended up working with small businesses or family and friends. And as a digital native, I mean, my age is an advantage because we’ve grown up with it. I’ve always found technology fairly easy, but using Wix is really easy in terms of, you just need to know design, you don’t really need too much of a technical background.
So, I kind of did that for a good few years. And then around three years ago, I decided to move very impulsively from being a part-time freelancer alongside my full-time job to quitting my day job, and starting my agency and it ended up to be the best thing I’ve ever done. I moved fairly speedily maybe after a year or so, to working nearly solely in WordPress. I did use it a lot before, but I wanted to specialise in something and then Shopify just came along as I started to do more e-commerce websites. Those are the two main parts, and it’s been a massive whirlwind, but I’m here today.
I started off having a side hustle, so if you have a full-time job and you’re thinking I don’t have time, or maybe I don’t have the financial situation to quit my job and to go and study at university or college, then do it as a side hustle, do your job, come home and maybe spend a few hours in the evening having a go at it. Because you can build it up as a side hustle without impacting your existing setup and find your passion and build your skills. That’s how I did it without being full-time in it.
Do You Need A Degree To Become A Web Designer?
So, in terms of my background, I did my GCSEs and A levels. I did an IT A level and I enjoyed it, loved it, got a good grade, but I feel like all of my website knowledge is not coming from education. I went to university and did business management, which obviously helps with that side of things. But again, I’ve never studied it. I learnt from online courses, like Yekola Academy, YouTube videos and looking online.
If you prefer video content, you can watch this interview below.
The Creative Side Of Web Designer
So I think a lot of it starts with just kind of building up our creativity in general. So, I spend a lot of my time looking at upcoming website trends. I spent a lot of time on things like making mood boards and looking at what other people are doing. Because a lot of it is being inspired and obviously you can have unique thoughts in your own head, but most of the time they do work out better when you’re having a look at all the amazing stuff out there already. Obviously you’re not going to copy it, but it just, sometimes you see it and it really just gives you that light bulb moment. Oh, I know exactly what I’m going to do for that client. So, it all starts off not as structured, just kind of all over the place, from looking online, getting inspired. I’m even sad enough that when I’m in a shop, if I see a brand or a design on a product, I just take a photo of it. So I have loads of photos on my phone of designs I’ve liked that I feel like I could bring into a website. So, even the colours of the sunset in the evening, or anything can be an inspiration.
It all starts off with inspiration and you obviously need to do the technical side of things in terms of learning how to use the platform you want to, whether that’s Wix Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify, there’s a big span on how much technical stuff you need to know. So, if you are so creative, you can just have a go at it. Most of these are kind of drag and drop builders so if anyone can’t code don’t panic, because I can only use small bits of code. So it’s just learning how to bring that creativity and vision in your head with the technical abilities to actually use the platforms and then kind of learning about best practice, functionality and layout. It does take a bit of time, but you’ll get that. And I think once you start to feel more comfortable with being creative, and making it comfortable when you do the first page for a client. So, I mean, I’ll do one page, fully designed, show it to them and they’ll get an idea for the rest of the website. They’ll sign that off. When you really hit the nail on the head and you’ve got that home page design and it’s looking spot on, and you want to show it off to everyone. I think that you’ve got it.
Would You Suggest Beginning To Design With WordPress?
I think WordPress might get a bit scary, and the reason why is because of the backend of it. You have the front end, which is all the pretty stuff you see when you visit any website, and the backend, what you see as a designer. The backend of WordPress, is maybe not as intuitive as it could be. So, it’s all about not being scared and just getting stuck in. But if you start off with WordPress, which is by far the biggest, most popular and you build up your skills, personally, I think that is the most profitable and rewarding platform to use.
But if you’re completely scared with the technical side of things, maybe that’s just not your thing at all, then there’s a huge amount of demand still for Wix, Squarespace and a few other of the less technical platforms. So, it’s very much dependent on the person, but if I could recommend one, it would be WordPress because the flexibility you have designing is unlimited, you can do anything.
Advice For People Who’d Like To Get started
There is no harm in just trying it as I would say with anything, for instance start with the courses from Yekola academy. If you have any interest in maybe learning how to do it, just give it a go. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, especially if you do it. Even if you’re looking after the kids during the day, if you get an hour of peace and quiet in the evening, why not try to give it a go. So that’s, my first bit of advice, it’s just have a go because you never know if it’s going to be the right thing for you, and if it is right, it’s very, very rewarding.