Do you feel that your web design skill are not that good as they could be? Do you feel that you are missing something? You may review the code of the project you are working on, but finding no errors. However, it just doesn’t feel good or enough. What’s more, there is still some little silent voice inside your head leaving you in doubt. No matter how hard you try, you are still not satisfied with the result you get. It’s time to ask yourself if the problem actually is in your design skills instead of coding abilities.
For every web designer, or front-end developer if you want, there are two side of the craft you have to master. The first one is programming and the second is design. Developers working solely with code are safe from this reality. The rest, however, have to break through and master both of those skills. It is not sufficient to relay only on one. You have to think holistically … Or change job. As opposed to design, programming is much easier to learn. You have to learn the syntax and semantics and practice them enough so you understand and remember how things work. Design, on the other hand, can be much harder to get good in.
If you want to see some proof, just think about the process of learning to code and learning about design. As said above, coding require you to understand the syntax and semantics of the language you are learning and, of course, understanding the overall programming principles. In design, the whole process covers various topics including psychology (hierarchy, colors, patterns), typography, layout, process of going from concept to creation and UX. Below are these parts explained more-in-detail to make them easier to understanding.
Psychology is one of the most important parts of design, if not the most. As it is important, it is also very broad to grasp. Psychology covers everything from how do we perceive objects around us to how do we react to certain colors and patterns. Psychology is so powerful that just by changing a color palette of the website you can change the overall experience user will have. By using a one color instead of another, you can even target particular audience. Restaurants can also use colors to raise their profits. And, it is not just about colors. Brands can increase or decrease the engagement of their customers by using different kind of music. Another example of role psychology plays … Just by changing the amount of elements inside some group you can influence the possibility that the user will spot them and use them. Or if they will be seen in negative or positive sense.
Another concepts in psychology related to colors are visual hierarchy and contrast. By experimenting with colors used on website you can influence how the elements are viewed and in which order the user will probably perceive them. Under the hierarchy also fall alignment, size and character of those elements or objects. If you add all these things together, what you get is layout of the website. When you are struggling with the overall impression of the website, the problem might be buried somewhere here in one of the aspects covered by psychology.
Sometimes you create first wireframes and mockups and the design looks just amazing. However, when you move to creation phase, everything falls apart and what you felt before is gone. In situations such as this, again, the problem might not be in design of layout or code itself. No, that small issue can be hidden in the content, or in the typography you have used to display that content. Many ways exist that can ruin the design of website and typography is, I guess, after psychology often the culprit. Another thing typography shares with psychology is its depth and difficulty to master. Many web designer got in trouble just by trying to select that one perfect font family and appropriate typography setting and what about the case when you have to mix two or even more typefaces together. That can turn to nightmare in no time.
What I mean by process is something I already mentioned in lines above. It is the whole sequence of individual steps you have to make in order to get from the basic concept to final stage that is creation. Everything falling under process is in huge covered by theory of UX. There were already many things said about UX and even I wrote a post about this whole thing long time ago. The main idea of that post is that there is no need to separate UX from web design field and to create new category for it. Why? Every web designer should have at least some knowledge related to UX no matter how does one call himself.
The title is not important, your skills and knowledge stored in your brain are. If you have gaps in this sector of your “portfolio” of of web design skills or you miss it completely, your overall abilities to produce good work every time will suffer. What’s more, it will also require much much more effort and time from your side to put into every work than you would have to otherwise.
So, why do you suck as a web designer? The reason can be simply in one of the topics we discussed above. It can range from gaps in psychology and typography – which are both pretty wide subjects to learn and understand – to the process you have to go through in order to get from simple sketch on paper to finished product hosted online. Anywhere in these fields can be hidden some small glitch or issue that holds you back from producing high quality results every time you work on something.
Now, what to do to fix that? In design, the answer is always the same. Practice and only practice. Sure, you need to know the theory, but without hundreds of hours put into practice every single day, all the theory you learn is useless. You have to literally train your eye and your “feel” for design to become exceptional designer. So, the homework for you is following. Take a look at some examples of great designs and examine them in-detpth. Be like a neurosurgeon during the surgery. No detail should be left unexplored. Question and understand every element of the website. Ask yourself on what impression do you get and then find the reason why you feel it that way. If you are confident enough (as you should be), try to make that design better. Try to find some flaws and correct them. Think about it as a game, game that will help you progress as a web designer. AD
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