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Top 10 Web Designer Job Skills

A List of Must-Have Skills for Web Designers and Web Developers

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Whether you are just starting out as a Web designer or Web developer or are looking to become one, there are skills you need to know to be successful. The following list of technical skills is a list of the skills you need to be a good Web designer. They are listed in importance to getting a job as a Web designer, although some may be in higher demand than others.

The list includes information about the skill, where to learn more about it, training resources, and whether it's more useful to a Web designer or a Web developer.

1. HTML

HTML is the most important thing a Web designer or Web developer can learn. Even if you plan on using WYSIWYG editors for most of your career, knowing HTML will give you an understanding of how the Web works so that your designs will be more effective.

HTML is imperative to both Web designers and Web developers. Even Web designers who don't plan to do much work outside of a WYSIWYG editor should learn HTML so that they know the basis of their Web pages.

2. CSS

After HTML, CSS is the most important language Web designers can learn. It is what powers the designs and determines how a page will look.

CSS is imperative to Web designers. If you don't know CSS you won't be able to design cutting edge websites. CSS is useful to Web developers, but not as important. Web developers who know CSS will be able to make their applications interact more effectively with the design.

3. Design Sense

Having a good sense of design is important for Web designers. There is a lot more to it than simply knowing which colors you like. You should be aware of the elements of design as well as the basic design principles. My Weekly Web Design Class teaches design principles as they relate to Web design.

Web designers must know design. Web developers do not need this skill, unless they are working as a freelancer.

4. JavaScript and Ajax

JavaScript is the first interactive element of a website and Web developers should be comfortable in JavaScript before they learn any other languages. Once you understand how JavaScript connects with your website, then you can use it to extend applications and create Ajax websites.

Web designers don't need to learn JavaScript. Web developers should learn JavaScript.

5. PHP, ASP, Java, Perl, or C++

Programming Web pages starts with the language you use. There are many more options than the ones I list above, but these are some of the most popular and sought after. PHP is easily the leader, and if you choose only one language to learn, it should be PHP.

Web designers don't need to learn a programming language. Web developers must learn at least one and the more you know well, the more employable you will be.

6. MySQL Database

Learning how to build and maintain a database is essential to most Web applications. MySQL is the most popular database on the Web, but learning Access or SQL or another database will be helpful.

Web designers don't need to learn databases. Web developers would find knowing some database administration helpful.

7. Flash

Flash brings animation and vector graphics to Web pages. It can be used by both Web designers and Web developers to create interesting sites.

Web designers can learn Flash to round out their design and graphics knowledge. Web developers can learn Flash (and ActionScript) to round out their programming knowledge.

8. SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is useful for anyone building websites. SEO is affected by the way the HTML is written, the image quality and content as well as many other things.

Both Web designers and Web developers will have a more desirable resume if they know SEO.

9. Web Server Administration

Knowing at least a little about the Web server your website is running on can help you solve problems and make your sites run better. Most Web designers feel they can ignore the server, but if you know how the server responds to things then you can build a better site.

Web designers don't need to know how to administer a server, but could benefit from knowing simple things like shell access. Web developers should learn more about the server so that they can troubleshoot their scripts and programs.

10. Project Management

Project management is a critical job skill for nearly anyone. By knowing how to manage a project, you can help keep it on track and that will endear you to every manager you work with.

Both Web designers and Web developers will benefit from knowing project management.

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