How to Be a Web Designer Without Coding ExperienceBlog
Posted on: June 30, 2020
Many people are very into the idea of building websites, but not so keen on learning all the ins and outs of how to actually develop a website. Learning how to program can take a long time. The difference between design and programming can also take two totally different mindsets, and a lot of people don't have both.
One question I get asked all the time is "If I want to build a website, do I have to be able to code?" Ten years ago I would have said yes. But today? I think now more than ever you can build and design a website without ever touching a line of code.
To better understand the debate we're having here, let's take a look at the difference between a Web Designer and a Web Developer:
What is a Web Designer? Web Design is where the work on a website starts. The exact workflow can vary from agency to agency, but in general you can expect to work on the very beginning stages of building a website wireframe, laying out all the different elements on a page, and then creating a static mockup of the design of each page.
What is a Web Developer: A web developer will be the one taking the static mockup and making it come to life with HTML/CSS/JS and any database/back-end code setup needed to make the functionality come alive. They deal with the intense coding, while the web designer gets to decide on the look and feel. This position is where the bulk of the programming works.
If you want to do both jobs without coding, you can do it. But you wont be able to get a job at an agency, and you will likely need to go the freelance route. You can work on smaller scale websites without intense customizations. But if you want to be a web designer, I would assume as long as you can design, you'll feel right at home.
If you want to have hands on with the website from start to finish, but without touching a line of code, here's how:
Responsive Design: Even though you're not touching the code, you're still going to have to understand how a website can be responsive, what it should look like on mobile and desktop, and how most websites achieve this today.
Visual hierarchy: If you're already in the design world, you're probably already familiar with how this works. If not, this is the time to learn. Websites will especially be in need of organizing the content in a way that puts the most important info first for the user.
CMS: A content management system is going to be your primary weapon in this battle for becoming a web designer. This will be your main tool in building a website, so it's important to choose wisely. Start researching tools such as WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal. You don't need to know them all, but be an expert in one.
There's a lot of differing opinions out there as to what a Web Designer actually needs to be skilled at, and most of this is due to the term "Web Designer" being used pretty loosely. But in our case of learning to become one without knowing how to code, here's what you'll need to be good at:
Asset creation and photo editing: You can't make a website design if you don't know the basics of how to put some proper graphics together. If you're already skilled at social media graphic design, you should be pretty good here. Get used to Photoshop, Illustrator, and some basic graphic design skills to bring your ideas for photos and assets to life.
Concept of responsiveness: Mobile makes up the majority of traffic, so being able to make sure a website works on both desktop and mobile is incredibly important. Make sure you understand how responsive design is implemented in the CMS you choose to work with. Most page builders will have you create one design for desktop, and one for mobile.
Digital marketing: You likely wont be responsible for coming up with an entire marketing plan for a client, but you might need to set up a few integrations with their website. Setting up Mailchimp sign up forms, integrating ConvertKit, and general setup for email campaigns and social media will be important in setting up a clients website.
As you can probably tell from this post by now, web design could mean a lot of things. But if you want to title yourself as a "Web Designer" who can put together a basic brochure website, you can totally do it. Is it hard? If you can put in the time to learn the terminology and skills we talked about above, you can do it!
The design industry is constantly evolving. Technology is always changing with us. We are never going to be able to sit back and have one skill for the rest of our careers. Always be willing to learn, and be open to new ideas, and your career will go places you never imagined!
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