With the recent ITAP Job Fair, I have been asked a few times what it takes to start a career in web design. There are many routes one can take to become a successful designer, however, the path you decide is ultimately the key factor in whether or not you are successful. Is there just one path? Not really, as with most things in life, there are many paths you can take. The more creative approach will end up increasing your chances of gaining a career.
ie. Google Adwords campaigns targeting companies/individual you're interested in working seem to be working really well now.
First off, you need a history or background in web design. You need to understand why a logo should be in a certain location and how viewers look at web sites. This will help you understand ease of use. You can gain this knowledge by going to school, reading books or reading online.
Is school required? No, but you will obviously learn a lot on the subject. School will help one understand the basic principles of building a website and what firms are looking for in a designer. Schooling will also give you a bit more of a competitive advantage when it comes to competing for jobs. However, it won't be the only thing firms look at.
Most importantly is your history or previous work. Firms will want to see your work experience, i.e. your portfolio. If you have a great looking portfolio than firms will be interested in that. If you have a ton of schooling and your portfolio doesn't look so great, then for the more reputable firms, your portfolio will be trashed.
After you have your portfolio down to a science, you will then be faced with the question of self-employment or employment.
For those looking for self-employment, congratulations. It's challenging, but a rewarding experience. I highly suggest it for everyone, competitors included.
For those looking for employment, you will then need to start approaching firms with your portfolio. Companies are less so interested in your education and more so interested in what you can do in something like Photoshop. Can you design a killer looking website that addresses a users wants and needs? After this step, the next question is, what's your attitude like? Are you punctual, good at working in a team environment?
There are many approaches you can take in the web design field, there isn't just one way. But think of the creative way, it's the most important in this very creative field.
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