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The Web Designer in 2007

By: Regnard Kreisler Raquedan at Regnard Kreisler C. Raquedan

Submitted on Mon, Mar 12th, 2007 12:00 am

The Web Designer has probably been around for over ten years now. But with all the developments this year alone, what does the Web Designer have to be and do in the coming year to able to stay relevant in the I.T. industry?

Probably a decade before, it was sufficient to have a background in graphic design, working knowledge of a graphics program (such as Photoshop or Paintshop Pro), and sufficient understanding of HTML for someone to deserve the title “Web Designer.” In 2007, the Web Designer has evolve into a more well rounded professional, skill-wise:

Markup - XHTML must already be the fundamental knowledge. Web designers don’t need to be walking tag dictionaries, but an appreciation for markup semantics is now becoming more relevant.

Layout - CSS should be by now a web design staple. Knowing when to use liquid and fixed layouts is important as well. Frames should no longer be in any web designer’s vocabulary.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Yes, as far-flung as it may sound, web designers should know SEO from the markup and design level. One scenario is when to use text headings vs. graphic headings (or both).

JavaScript - AJAX’s emergence has put JavaScript knowledge into the forefront like it was a few years back when DHTML tricks were cool. At least web designers should know when it is appropriate to consider AJAX effects into the design. Thus, the design mindset should breakaway from a static approach.

Frameworks - Whether its PHP, ASP.NET, Java, or Ruby on Rails, I think every web designer should know a scripting language and a framework. Why? It gives them a view other than the design. Right now, PHP and Ruby on Rails seem good candidates to learn. Take note that knowing is different from becoming good at.

Browsers - It was a big issue before, but it’s becoming less of an issue as the browsers’ functionality converge. In a few years, this may become a non-factor.

Design Trends - I know, I know. Following trends is generally not recommended, but most clients want sites that follow trends, so knowing what’s out there doesn’t really hurt. A good example is the whole Web 2.0 look and feel (reflections, curved corners, big typography). More clients and corporate sites would want this look next year.

Design Fundamentals - Novice web designers should have this covered before engaging in any work. Period.

Soft Skills - While web design is primarily a
creative task, what makes your co-workers delighted when you work with them is your soft skills. Basic collaboration skills, good communication and even basic project management will help anyone become successful even outside the IT industry.

So there you have it, what web designers should be looking to add in their skillsets for next year. This list is really a nice guideline to adhere to, but hey, if you’re using tables for layout and your’re earning a million dollars a year, you’re more than welcome to scrap this list.

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About the Author

Regnard Kreisler Raquedan
Regnard Kreisler C. Raquedan
Regnard Kreisler C. Raquedan is an advocate of web standards and usability. He is the User Group Manager of the Adobe User Group - Philippines and Local Ambassador for the UXNet in Manila. He has co-authored a book about Adobe Flash and is a graduate student researching on software and web usability.

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