Top 10 Web Designer Job Skills

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

Whether you are just starting out as a Web designer or Web developer or are looking change careers and become a Web professional, there are key skills that you need if you hope to be successful in this profession. The following list of skills, both technical and otherwise, represent some of these key areas of knowledge that you should work to add to your repertoire as you start to work on the Web.

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En clases HTML y CSS
Huasonic/Flikr/CC BY 2.0

HTML (hypertext markup language) is the very foundation of how websites are built. To this end, is one of the most important things a Web designer or Web developer can learn (and likely one of the first things they will learn). Even if you plan on using WYSIWYG editors or a CMS for most of your career, knowing HTML will give you an understanding of how the Web works and give you so much more control on your work and ensure that if you do need to work outside of those editors, you have the ability to do so.

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While HTML dictates the structure of sites, CSS handles the visual appearance. As such, CSS is another incredibly most important language that Web designers can learn. 

CSS is an imperative skill for Web designers and front-end developers. While CSS may be useful to back-end Web developers, it is not as important as it is for designers and front-end devs. That beings aid, Web developers who know CSS will be able to make their applications interact more effectively with the design.

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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 as well as typography best practices, how to use images, layout principals and more.

While design skills are never a bad thing to have, Web developers do not need this skill as much unless they are working as a freelancer and are responsible for all aspects of a site's creation (meaning they are not working with a separate designer).

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JavaScript is the first interactive element of a website and Web developers should be comfortable in JavaScript before they learn any other languages, especially how it interacts with HTML and CSS to create the 3 layers of web design.

Web designers don't need to learn JavaScript unless they are doing front-end development as well. Web developers should learn JavaScript as it plays a critical role in many website and web applications today.

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

Web designers don't need to learn a programming language (other than HTML, which is a markup language, not a pure programming language). Web developers must learn at least one and the more you know the more employable and flexible you will be.

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Mobile Support

On today's Web, there are a staggering variety of devices and screen sizes being used. To this end, websites must support this wide range of user devices with responsive websites that are built for this multi-device world.

Being able to design sites that look great are various sizes, and also being able to write media queries to build responsive websites is critical for Web professionals today.

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While not a technical skill, having great custom service skills is a key ingredient in a successful web design career.

Whether you work for an agency, as a freelancer, or as an in-house resource for an organization, you will need to communicate with people, present design ideas, and manage relationships. Great customer service skills help you with all of these.

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Search engine optimization, or SEO, is useful for anyone building websites. There are a number of factors that affect a site's ranking in search engines, from that site's content, to its inbound links, to it's download speed and performance, and also it's mobile-friendliness. All of these factors are ones that a web designer should be mindful of.

Both Web designers and Web developers will have a more desirable resume if they know at least the basics of SEO.

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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, as well as one that performs better from a performance perspective.

Web designers don't need to know how to administer a server, but could benefit from knowing simple things to at least be able to communicate with server admins more effectively. Web developers should learn more about the server so that they can troubleshoot their scripts and programs.

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Project Management

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

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