What visual designers need to know about web design

Visual designer thinking about web design

Do you design webpages and hand your designs over to a web developer? Wondering why web design is apparently so complex? Do you feel sometimes that web people speak a language you don’t understand? Do you wonder why that button you asked for isn’t quite in the right place, or isn’t using the font/colour/font size you specified?

First of all, you are not alone – most designers at some point will have experienced a level of disconnect when trying to communicate ideas to a web developer.

Perhaps the problem really lies with a total lack of common ground. Designers design, and developers develop, right? Actually that’s not really true – web developers often have good design skills, and many visual designers can build websites!

We are going to encourage you to take on some of the skills of a web developer, so you can not only speak the language, but actually take your projects through to a more advanced stage, even creating prototypes for your clients to look at and interact with.

How much do you actually need to know?

The Web Design process

Firstly, it’s really important to understand how the process of building websites works. There are several stages to this process, and you might already be involved in some of them – scoping a project, user experience design, and of course visual design. All of that and potentially more may happen before the developer even gets involved.

How webpages work

This is a big topic, discussed in more detail in this post. Briefly, the nuts and bolts of web development are based on coding languages: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Each language has a role to play:

HTML provides the structure of the page – building a framework for the content to sit inside.

CSS provides the presentation – everything from fonts and colours through to page layouts.

Javascript adds behaviour – sophisticated interactivity, animation and beyond.

You don’t need to be an expert coder!

Professional web developers have to be able to code using all three languages to a production level. This means they need to be expert coders. But you don’t need to be an expert to build a working website – you need to understand HTML & CSS to a good level. Javascript can wait! If you’re chiefly concerned with design, you don’t really need it, and in any case, there are many simple plugins you can use if you want to add a specific scripted element to your page.

So, how do you proceed?

We recommend attending a training course which will give you the basic skills you need. You’ll gain confidence with writing code, learn about web graphics, look at the different ways you can create test pages and prototypes, all from an insider’s perspective. You’ll gain an understanding of the web design process, and what is possible using modern development techniques.

At The Web School, we have many years of helping graphic designers to learn about web design, and even make the transition from visual designer to web developer!

If you’re ready to take the plunge and upgrade your knowledge and skills, check out our Web Development level one course – ‘Building Websites with HTML & CSS’.

We hope to see you there!