What Does a Web Designer Do?

website layout mockup

While some people may not believe the fees that web designers charge are worth it, perhaps believing that they can create a comparable website for cheaper or even free, those prices exist for a good reason. They represent the knowledge and experience that graphic designers have worked hard to gain. And while design is a creative endeavor, more goes into even a simple layout than you might realize.

Website Design From Start to Finish

So what exactly is it that a web designer does? In short, they are responsible for the look and feel of a website. They work closely with the client to create a concept and bring that concept to fruition. Designers may present their clients with mockups or samples to explain their vision to the customer. Everything the web designer represents the client’s brand while serving their visitors.

The website elements that web designers choose are fonts, colors, and graphics, which usually require them to know how to use image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes, a web designer does work with a graphic designer or photographer to generate graphics for use on a site.

Designers choose the site’s layout, including specific elements, including menus, galleries, sidebars, headers, and footers, to name just a few aspects. The elements of a website that the user interacts with, including the navigation, buttons, and gestures or other controls, fall under the category of user interface (UI) and are an essential element of web design.

Website design varies based on the purpose, company type, and industry. For example, a lifestyle blog, an artist’s portfolio, and an online retailer require different website designs. Often, websites include multiple functions or sections, and designers create other pages that mesh with the uniform design of the website.

Some designers may also know languages like HTML, CSS, and PHP or how to utilize content management scripts like WordPress, which allows them to design and build a website. However, web designers often work closely with web developers, especially front-end developers who create the code that makes the website look and function as desired.

Web Designers Combine Form With Function

Of course, a website cannot just look good. Web designers work with developers to ensure that their design sites are also functional. If a website is too difficult to use, which may stem from something the web designer does, the visitor can become frustrated and potentially leave to find a competitor’s website that works better.

A usable website means that:

  • No pages or features are obscured.
  • It works well on both mobile and desktop devices.
  • Pages and elements load quickly.
  • The website is accessible to people with different abilities.
  • Users do not have to click unnecessarily.

Designers will test their designs for functionality and change aspects of the design that don’t work well. Keeping usability in mind may mean that website designers have to steer clients away from ideas that may be flashy but not practical or adjust the design to be compatible with the scripts that power website functions.

While the client pays for the website, other people typically visit and use it, so designers must think of how those visitors will experience the site without the background that the design and client have. User experience (UX) is just one of the concepts that web designers learn about when studying for their careers.

Additional Responsibilities of Web Designers

While sometimes website designers are building a site from scratch, at other times, they may be updating an existing website. Working with an existing site may mean an entire design overhaul or adding or changing features to the site. If the client prefers to keep any functions, the designer must keep this in mind when working on the site. For example, web designers must integrate WordPress into their designs if the clients already use the CMS.

Once the website is complete, the client or site manager can add content to flesh out the site. The design process may have included choosing user-friendly software or creating a behind-the-scenes section of the site (often called a dashboard) that the client can use directly to update their site. If so, the designer may teach their client how to use this software, perhaps creating an offline version that the client can use before the website goes live.

For a new site, sometimes the web designer does domain registration and hosting setup for their client. In some cases, designers might control different services or aspects of a website, especially if the client is not tech-savvy. At other times, website designers often hand over the reins to the site, including account access and all the files necessary for the design they created. Designers may retain rights to their designs, so their clients should pay careful attention to contracts and fulfill their terms to ensure they always have a functioning site.

Web Designers Work Hard for You

As you can see, the many tasks a web designer does require time and knowledge that the average person lacks, and web designers can wear multiple hats at times. Designers also work closely with clients, developers, and sometimes professionals who specialize in UX or UI, so responsiveness and friendliness are highly prized skills in a website designer. A person who can professionally manage all of this is certainly an asset.

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